We are all one-of-a-kind, and with that uniqueness we can all add something to our relationships to grow. But what if sometimes those differences in our relationships don’t work out for the better. I have had many fights when it comes to hiking at different paces. So how do you handle it when you and your partner have a different hiking pace?
I have several friends and we all hike at different paces. Sometimes, I’m the slower one. Sometimes, I’m the faster one. And sometimes, I’ve been the turtle and frustrating my hiking partner.
I dated a forester. And for those who don’t know what foresters do (I didn’t until I met him), they pretty much hike for a living. They walk around the forest and managing it. Even though my job as photojournalist keeps me on my feet often and I can put in some miles on somedays, I mostly sit around. So of course we misaligned in our hiking pace.
He got very frustrated with me. And I equally, or probably more, got frustrated with him. Let me tell you, if you are not used to hiking in the wilderness where there is not trail, it is not easy. My ankles killed me from keeping my balance on the uneven ground. The stupid briers always grabbed at my clothes, scratched my arms and face, they drove me crazy too.
There was another time when we were hiking up a big mountain and my thigh muscles began to spasm, I took a break. My ex-boyfriend was frustrated with the constant stops, and I was frustrated in his lack of compassion for my sore muscles.
Comprise and compassion are key
I believe that frustrations my ex-boyfriend gave me helped me have more understanding when hiking with someone who is much slower. I know what it feels like just wanting to sit down and take a break. We might not get there until after dark, and I understand how that can frustrate the faster-paced hiker too.
My brother, Jacob, and I went on a four-day hike once. I was in better shape then he at the time, and he was dragging behind. I knew we had an eight-hour hike and would get there after dark. But I also understand how it feels to hate hiking with your hiking partner in that moment.
Just because you are feeling great, doesn’t mean you hiking partner is. Compromise your hiking pace and have compassion for the one struggling, and you will have a much happier hike.
It is OK to hike ahead and wait
Like I said, I have been the slower hiker and the faster her hiker. If you have different hiking paces, it is OK to leave your partner behind a little ways and wait periodically.
My friend Lagena has a little bit faster hiking pace than I do. We had an epic hike in the Grand Canyon recently. We climbed 3,100 feet in only four miles to the rim. She hiked ahead of me because she had a quicker hiking pace. But we were never more than a quarter of a mile apart. Periodically she took a break and waited for me to catch up.
I have also hiked ahead of my friend, Crystal, and my brother. Also, if you are on a week-long trip, hiking ahead or being left behind can give you sometime to yourself. That can be valuable because you spend every hour of every day for a week with your friend.
Remember it’s not a race
Well sometimes you are racing the sunset, but you should plan for hiking at the slower person’s pace. If the hike will take you eight hours but your hiking partner 10 hours, you need to leave earlier and plan on a 10-hour hike.
Now, if your hiking partner is has the slower pace and is the last one ready in the morning, you have my permission to be annoyed. Well, maybe you need to practice some of that compassion and grace and remember the trip belongs to both of you.
You are out there to enjoy nature, see amazing things, and spend time with your hiking partner. So just remember that and not look at it like a race.
The slower person sets the hiking pace
As a general rule of thumb, the slower-paced hiker sets the pace. Even though you may not want to walk that slowly, it is easier for you to slow down and/or take more breaks than your hiking partner pushing herself to the point of wanting to cry.
It is also safer to go by the slower hiking pace. If you are rushing to keep up with someone, you might make a mistake and twist an ankle or something like that.
If you simply cannot hike with the slower partner, because the trail has to be hiked in a certain amount of time, you really need to consider hiking it with someone who can hike it that fast. And if you are the slower paced hiker, you should have understanding that’s it’s not personal.
Don’t push your friends to do trails that they cannot do
I tend to push all my friends to do the harder trails. Crystal, Lagena, and Jacob, have all wanted to kill me and leave my body to the vultures on the trail. But I will say in my defense at the end of the trail, they have all been glad they hiked it.
But with that being said if I did not think any of them could finish the trail, I would have not pushed them. If you really want to summit a peak and you know your friend is not physically able to accomplish it, you need to hike it with another friend.
And finally, don’t laugh when they fall
OK, maybe just laugh a little. Well you can laugh a lot as long as you make sure they are OK first.
I’m pretty clumsy and I fall … a lot. I have just come to accept it.
Everyone’s hiking is different. One of the reasons I like solo hiking is that I can set my own pace. But I also love hiking with my friends and family. I love spending time with them. As long as we make compromises and have compassion, it will be an awesome hike.