We’ve all heard the old adage, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” The same is true in various scenarios of life, including hiking. Finding the right pace is a key component to making a hike enjoyable for the entire party. If you’re hiking alone, consider yourself lucky. If you’re hiking with a partner or multiple partners, you should still consider yourself lucky, but be prepared to adjust your pace a bit.
Last summer, I planned a weeklong hike with a friend on the Appalachian Trail. Upon arriving at the trailhead, she informed me that she has asthma. Right there, I could have done two things. One, I could have fretted over the small, but important factor, knowing that our pace would be slow and that we probably would not make the hike I had planned: north from Sam’s Gap for 20 miles and then the 65 mile trek back south to Hot Springs, NC where we left her Jeep. Or two, I could have appreciated the fact that for the next week she and I were going to be living in the woods! Which do you think I chose?
I let her walk in front 95% of the time, giving her the freedom to walk at her own pace. We stopped often so she could catch her breath. Those frequent stops just gave me more opportunities to look at my surroundings and appreciate the whole adventure that much more. So, to make the hike enjoyable for the whole party, give a little when it comes to pace and you never know what you might receive in return.