A Physical Therapist’s Hiking Advice

Written by Laura Beth McClendon, PT DPT

My husband and I spend an amazing weekend at Yosemite National Park in California last year. We are not avid hikers, but we could not resist going on multiple hikes when we were there. Yosemite’s main landmarks are mainly in one section of the national park,   Yosemite Valley. We decided to go on a very long hike, Upper Yosemite Falls. It is over 7-mile round trip with over 2500 elevation gain.  We did some research before the hike to see what all we need to survive that hike.

  1. Hiking boots. They need to be comfortable, supportive shoes. The outsole/ bottom of the shoes should have protruding treads to make sure that you don’t slip.
  2. Water! For a long hike, you need 2-4 L of water. We used 2 L camel bags. There was a river at the top so we also got a filter to refill the camel bags.
  3. We had Slim Jims, peanut butter, fruit snacks, pretzels, and Nature Valley bars, which are calorie dense foods.
  4. Weather appropriate attire.
  5. Trekking poles. Our friend told us that we would need them. We got some but didn’t believe him. We were wrong! They help to make sure you have another point of contact for support going up and down the mountain. Also, they can help prevent you from getting bit by a snake. The pole helps to make sounds to scary away the snakes.
  6. First aid kit. We brought some alcohol whips, band aids, Neosporin, and Benadryl.
  7. Sunscreen and Bug Spray.
  8. Other things we brought: bear bell, cameras, and cell phones.

We had a wonderful time on our hike! So for a PT’s advice before going on a long hike:

  • stretch before you start and when you are on a break
  • take plenty of breaks
  • step carefully to prevent slips
  • And use tape or braces for your ankles or knees if you have a history of pain.
  • Happy hiking!