Do any hiking on rocky terrain? If you were to try hiking them by climbing up or over all of the rocks on the trail, you’d quickly burn out the big leg muscles in your legs and run out of gas.
However, there’s a way to preserve your energy on these long approach hikes to those steep passes. Instead of stepping on and over the big rocks, try to walk between them, taking the route with the smallest elevation gain possible. Taking small steps like this will preserve your leg muscles all day. It also makes it possible to keep a steady pace, which is physically and mentally less taxing.
Dodge the Calf-Ache
When walking uphill, try and keep your steps in your heel. Think about distributing the load in your hamstrings and glutes - bigger muscle groups can sustain a bigger workload. When going downhill, keep your weight towards the ball of your foot. This will also help with balance on steep inclines. Avoid the temptation to point your toes outward or to sidestep while going down hill. You achieve balance through maximum surface area; that's achieved by pointing your toes where you're going.
Flows like a River
When I’m hiking up a rocky trail, I try to visualize what it would look like if it a riverbed covered in water. I used to whitewater kayak quite a bit, so this is a natural thing for me to do.
If I were kayaking down such a river, I’d follow the easiest line, picking my way around the big drops created by the large rocks and following the gentlest slope downriver. That’s the line I follow (uphill in reverse) when I hike on rocky trails like this. It works great and keeps my legs fresh all day.
What kind of footwork techniques do you use to preserve your energy when hiking?