How To Conquer Those Bloody Hills

As someone who is an active hiker, I’ve done my share of hills over the last few years.

Regardless of the positive approach I take to them every time, I am always slightly dreading them.

Back when I first started hiking, I always felt the need to take the hill all in one go. I likened it to pulling off a band-aid; why prolong the agony?

However, I would later learn that that agony would be the best way to approach it. Well, in some ways anyway.

I remember the turning point quite clearly.

I was hiking through a spectacular section of forest area in Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges with my nephew.

We got to the bottom of a fairly steep hill which was the last section before the finish line.

We’d already hiked 15kms for the day so we were well and truly ready to finish. Needless to say, seeing this hill made us cringe somewhat.

So, true to form, we started hiking up it with no intention of stopping until we reached the top.

We’d only been going for a few minutes when we stopped for a much-needed break.

I said to my nephew that we would stop here for a few minutes only and then go again. He wasn’t too keen on walking all the way to the top.

I just wanted to get it over and done with but made a compromise with him.

“Why don’t we go to that bendy looking tree just up ahead and have a break for another minute and then reassess?”

This seemed to make a bit of sense to him.

We got to that ‘bendy looking tree’, stopped for the minute we had agreed on and then I picked out another point to hike to and rest.

We did this a few times over and before we knew it, we were at the top of the hill and at the end of the trail.

I’m very much a believer that hiking is all a mental game. You can have the sorest legs in the world, but your mindset and willpower are what gets you through those hard times.

At this point in my hiking journey, I was still very green and still very much learning the basics.

This tactic has proved to be so useful over the years and those people I have passed it on to have all said it has helped them too.

John Feeney owns a Melbourne based outdoor blog called The Hiking Society and an outdoor clothing company called Globewalker.