I didn't see a thread with much hiking emphasis, so I'm starting one. Surprising, given that hiking seems as though it should be a lifestyle maintainer, or fitness method for paleo or just basic fitness folks. Then again, when I asked a question on a hiking website the responses all came from vegetarians and vegans, who while not really critical of paleo diets due to the nature of the website, they did make statements like, "I'm rocking the pasta", or, "meat just isn't for me anymore". Whatever, I always find that sort of thing annoying when asking if anyone is paleo, but I digress. So, as to not to make this another diet based discussion, here we go.
I enjoy hiking, and think it's a great way to stay in shape. I got into it a lot after moving from the far eastern provinces of the country, to the nexus of enjoyment: the southwest. Partly by diet choices, and partly by hiking what in Flagstaff, Arizona is a local favorite: Mount Elden Lookout Trail #4, I dropped 15 pounds in 2 months and really got into pretty good shape. The trail is 5 miles round trip, and 2,400' up and down. Most times were in the 2:15 to 2:40 range, but I had a few that were right around 2 hours, and after an extended trip to Colorado a few years back, I made the summit in under 55 minutes without realizing I was going so fast. I did other hikes, too, but that was always a favorite.
Up, and at altitude, tends to be my preference, and when I lived in Flag I routinely did a hike that led me up a steep 30 degree slope and I found that in the mid to upper 10,000' range, I was able to get a very enjoyable, not harsh, not too easy, but enjoyable cardio workout where I would have my heart pumping away at 140 to 145 BPM and after 2 or 3 minutes, I would have to stop and rest (which was when I counted my HR). I remember looking at my abdomen and seeing my stomach pulse from the blood moving through my aorta! The sort of thing that scares some doctors as they start thinking dissecting aneurism. Most of the time, I did not do that, as lower hikes tended to not be as demanding, and above 11,000' it was too steep and the altitude prevented that level of exertion. That said, I still got to the 140s when I would make short sprints up the Elden trail.
I have not lived in Flagstaff for nearly 2 years, I still hike and have a clear preference for peaks. For example, today I am going to go out and hike Ortega Peak, a local mountain hill that will net me 3100' and almost 8 miles of hiking. I usually go out and hike about 2 times a week on average, sometimes more, and tend to take about 3 1/2 hours to hike my usual routine. I do have to stop at times to catch my breathe, but in general I do not furiously push myself. I have fooled with a heart monitor at work and like seeing my HR fall to sinus bradycardia at times while resting. My lowest was 46 BPM, and I tend to stay in the lower to middle 50s. Perhaps, my present and former fitness level put that at a cardio training level, but I never saw it as cardio training, even if it might have been, but I was and am just out for fun.
My point to this? I don't run, and except at work where I walk around at a moderate pace often, I don't move slowly all the time. Instead, about 2 or 3 times a week, I hike. I figure, combined with my 1 hour, 3 x a week weight lifting, I have a very nice paleo routine, which I enjoy. My job is stressful, almost excessively at times, but I like to take it easy the rest of the time. So, back on topic, I see hiking as a very enjoyable and perfect way to excercise, and in an old fashioned paleo kind of way. Oh yeah, my diet tends to be very paleo these days.
So, why do I not seem to see it discussed here, or why is it that most hikers I see who seem to be into fitness, seem to be on the other end of the spectrum (vegetarian and vegan)? I get that many on this board live in places with fairly miserable weather, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, Minnesota, where ever. Still, I had a winter season that might be regarded as harsh for the state and I just threw on the snowshoes and went out. It need not always be a hard long hike, or a 5 mile 2,000' + hike. Many can find almost daily enjoyment or weekend fun with something that they can get in their area. So again, why doesn't hiking seem to be discussed here at any length?
Incidentally, I used to use boots with orthotics as I have flat feet. They made things worse, and I ditched them briefly for 5 fingers, which are not good when it is cold or warm, and I never could do more than 5 miles. For a year now, I have use the merrell minimal shoes. They are OK, but I find I am limited to hiking lengths, generally under 10 miles. 10 to 15 miles is tolerable, but my feet are sore in the skin. I did a few 20 to 25 miles hikes last year, and found the pain to be nearly crippling. Not muscular or skeletal, by skin pain. Anyone have similar issues?