While I did do some hiking while pregnant, Blaz did quite some demanding trips on his own in the Dolomites. Once he came back from one, and told me that he had witnessed a couple fighting all the way to the top. “I’m so happy to find out that we are not the only ones!”, he exclaimed and we laughed. Throughout our soon eight years together, we have been on many many hikes of varying lengths, difficulties and under different circumstances. Below I will describe the lessons we learned on some of them. If you have had any fun or strange experiences with hiking as a couple, feel free to share them by commenting below – we would love to read them!
Tip #1: Going for a hike on the first date is a great idea if you know each other not to be psychos.
Blaz and I had met through a friend, got each other’s contact info, texted a bit, and then I invited him to go on a hike along a beautiful stretch of the Slovenian Mediterranean coast. While we did walk about 10 kilometers, it was by no means a technically difficult hike (we were both wearing casual sneakers) and we took our time for a swim on a wild beach. Besides swimsuits and towels, we only had water and food with us. It was a great experience and a wonderful way to get to know one another without anybody else around (hence the importance of none of us being psychos). If you go on a hike for the first date, I recommend that you focus on spending time together in the outdoors rather than reaching a certain peak, distance etc. by a certain time.
Tip #2: Stick together when the circumstances are tough and you have to rely on each other to reach the goal.
The first multi-day hike we did together was the Kjolur trail, from Hvitarnes to Hveravellir in the Icelandic highlands which are characterized by being largely unpopulated, with only a few and far between mountain huts. Once the bus dropped us at the Hvitarnes crossroads which can best be described as the middle of nowhere, we both immediately got the feeling that this was a place and a time to stick together, and not waste time on any quarrels or statements like: “I’ll just go back and leave you here, if you keep acting like this”. Not least because it would be three days before any bus going towards civilisation would come that way. So, we did – and in spite of doing many mistakes whilst preparing for the hike (like only having crappy thin sleeping bags) we only had one minor fight regarding which way we should go.
Tip #3: Split up when necessary, and arrange where to meet up.
It has happened multiple times that Blaz has pushed me (both figuratively and literally) to the top of some godforsaken mountain top, which has mostly led to a lot of weeping and frayed tempers. While the view from the top might have been (sort of) worth it once or twice, it is sometimes a better idea to simply split up and let the keen one proceed to the top, while the other one can take a rest or make his or her way down. Same goes if you underway find yourselves to have a quite different tempo of hiking from one another. People have different levels of physical preparedness, and that is certainly also the case for Blaz and I. I am simply too lazy to become as fit as he is.
Tip #4: Always make sure that you have the right sleeping gear (and breakfast!)
One should think that we had learned our lesson after committing one of our biggest mistakes on the Kjolur trail, i.e. not bringing appropriate sleeping gear. But in summer 2018 I once again found myself shivering with cold throughout the night while camping in the Dolomites, as the temperature went down below 5ºC. Next day I was utterly stiff and tired and to make things worse, there was no proper breakfast available (Blaz’s fault). Nevertheless, he insisted that we should execute a rather challenging hike up to Lagazuoi, and then take the cable car down. To this day, I can only remember the hike as a blur of anger, frustration and tears, and the view from the top did absolutely nothing for me in terms of reversing these feelings. Luckily, the camping site borrowed us some heavy wool blankets for the nights after, and I made sure that we had the basics for a decent breakfast every morning.
Tip #5: Make sure the fitter one carries a (much) heavier load – like a child, for example.
Throughout our relationship, Blaz has always carried more than me but that generally did not slow him down much nor prevented him from pushing me up a hill or up in tempo. However, after we have had a child and he has to carry her in her child carrier backpack, the playing field has been levelled. I myself am also carrying more, i.e. what he was carrying before (like food, water, equipment, extra clothes etc.), but our daughter is so well-fed that his tempo and range is not what it used to be. As we are more equal now, there is a lot less fighting, which is great – for everyone’s sake. That also means there is more energy to take care of the little one’s needs which you can read more about in the article Hiking with a baby.