What if you’re not a goat?

My friend, she’s a little Welsh mountain goat – she can skip up those hills and is sure-footed on the way down.

Myself, I’m more of a donkey. When people asked why I was walking the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path with all that stuff on my back, I generally told them it was the goat who’d wanted to do it… and she’d brought me along as the donkey to carry half the tent!

So, if like me your ‘inner goat’ is hidden fairly deep, here are my top tips – L

Uphills

  • Chunk! Don’t be daunted by the prospect of that looming summit, ‘chunk it’. Find a spot part-way up, that’s challenging but achievable and set that as your goal. Promise yourself a rest when you get there. And remember to keep your promise – pause, look at the view, catch your breath, think ‘my, how high I’ve climbed already’… and then aim for the next chunk.
  • Go at your own pace. If like me you walk with a mountain-goat friend, let them go up the hill first, they need to walk at their own pace too. (Obviously give strict instructions to them to wait for you at the top, if that’s necessary!). As long as you keep moving forwards, it doesn’t matter how slow you go, you must eventually get there!!
  • Sing. You don’t want to think about how much your legs are burning and you want to try and keep a steady pace. You needn’t sing out loud, just under your breath. I made a conscious effort to learn the words of a few songs we sing at church while I did my training walks – ‘See what a morning, gloriously bright, with the dawning of hope in Jerusalem…’ was the one I hummed up most of the Pembrokeshire cliffs!!
  • Mangos! The other thing that got me up the hills was sun-dried mango. It’s the perfect uphill snack. It’s sweet and gives you a little energy boost, it’s chewy so you can slowly gnaw on a piece for quite some time to distract yourself from the walking and it’s just fruit, so I’m sure it must be good for you! You can buy it online from Traidcraft.

Downhills

Personally I find these harder than uphills. Balancing is hardwork for your legs, especially if you have a heavy pack on. :

  • Follow a goat. If you have a sure footed friend, send them down first. You can learn from them where the good footholds are. Allow them to offer you help – there’s no point in being too proud to accept, some people just weren’t born with goat-hooves!
  • Walk like a crab. On a steep incline, it’s sometimes easier to walk sideways. Either walk in big zigzags down a grassy incline, or in a narrower space just do little sideways crab steps!
  • Go at your own pace. You might keep your walking companions waiting, but it is always quicker for them to wait for you at the bottom of the hill than to take a detour via A&E because someone’s twisted their knee!

 

goat by kevin

Backpacking Goat drawn by Kevin

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