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Archive for the ‘Nordic Walking’ Category

A great month of April has brought spring hiking to the Cape Breton Highlands earlier than expected.  Spring hiking has its adventures – flowing streams, bridges out, windfalls, moose, wet trails and snow but  who cares when it is 15 degrees out and sunny.   

One of the most important pieces of equipment for spring hiking is trekking or nordic walking poles.  You need poles to help with your balance crossing streams & bridges, going over windfalls, navigating wet trails as well  going thru snow….There was still quite a bit of snow on Skyline – April 24 about halfway out it was clear.

Below are a few pictures of spring hiking in the highlands at Red Island, Plaster, Skyline and a few travelling to the trails & back… Enjoy the pics.

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End of West Highland Way

Recently, I had the opportunity to hike the West Highland Way in Scotland with my wife and nephew on vacation.  The West Highland Way is 95 miles (152) kms and involved eight days of hiking with an average of 10-14 miles a day. The most important piece of equipment on this hike for all three of us were the trekking poles. Next of course was the rain gear.

Trekking poles were used on the uphills, downhills, flats, crossing brooks & streams. With the amount of rain in Scotland, the poles were a godsend in helping us with our balance and crossing streams on the trail and brooks. I was amazed at my skill jumping rocks by planting my poles as I move forward. 

At this year’s Hike the Highlands Festival, Nordic Walking Instructor Linda Murray, pointed out quite early in the workshop that Nordic poles are for everyone. My 27 year old nephew used his poles everyday and thanked me for this gift. Please find below a few pics with our poles.

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Roberts Mountain, Pleasant Bay

Roberts Mountain, Pleasant Bay

Day 5 of Hike the Highlands was all about avoiding rain and we did it. All three hikes  we got in. The last hike of day – Roberts Mountain lived up to expectations & more. It provided hikers with spectacular coastal scenery. Local guide Tina Roach, Pleasant Bay, indicated the Mountain was named after Robert MacLeod, one of the three families that had came over in 1800’s from the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Hiking up Roberts Mountain was a great day for hiking with poles,  up and down a mountain. I remember the proper techniques  instructor Linda Murray had demonstrated the day before at Nordic Walking workshop.

First hike of the day was Lone Shieling, a short hike led by guide and park interpreter John Francis Lane who provided hikers with an interpretative talk on the crofter’s house, the acadien forest and some studies being done in monitoring.  The second hike of the day was MacIntosh Brook, a short hiking trail to falls and one of the five geocaching sites in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Guide Lisa Dixon took us to the geocaching site and to falls which were flowing quite good due to the rain lately. MacIntosh Brook is also a picnic site and campground and has an excellent picnic shelter and washrooms.

Day 6 hikes are Otter Brook, the first half of Pollett’s Cove and Salmon Pool. The day ends with a social evening for hikers at the main theatre at Cheticamp Visitor centre. Hosted by Les Amis du Plein, a co-operative organization that runs the Nature Bookstore and a new partner in the Hike the Highlands festival. The evening will feature Acadien and English Folklore music, refreshments and food. The Nature bookstore will be open from 7-9 pm.

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Nordic Walking Workshop - Hiking with Poles

Nordic Walking Workshop - Hiking with Poles

Day four of  Hike the Highlands Festival was an important day for hikers – it showed us the importance of hiking with poles and the proper techniques.  It also emphasize dressing in layers and use of rain gear as the day involved showers.

Our instructor, Linda Murray started off the nordic walking workshop at North Highland Nordic Ski Trails, Cape North, by saying hiking with  poles is not just for older hikers but for younger people as well. Both her 29 year old daughter and husband hikes with poles all the time.

The benefits of nordic walking are incredible for your body  –  easier on your knees and hips, better balance, increased aerobic workout (20-40% more with poles), and a full body workout.  Our instructor, Linda Murray demonstrated the proper way of going up the hills as well down and stayed with us for the next hike at Sugar Loaf Mountain – an up and down hike.   

The day ended with a great evening presentation by John Francis Lane, park interpreter on Species at Risk, Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  We were amazed at how big the female American Eel was and the silver colour.

Day 5 hikes include Lone Shieling, MacIntosh Brook and Roberts Mountain.  All three hikes today are on new trails.

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Deuter Futura 28 Backpack

Deuter Futura 28 Backpack

With just 3-4 weeks away before the 6th Annual Hike the Highlands festival – Sept. 11-20, it is time to get out the checklist and start getting ready for the hiking festival.  

1) review the hiking schedule and trail info and decide what hikes you will be going on as well workshops.
2) review the list of accommodation and book for the festival. 
3) Register for the festival – Determine which option you will be doing –
     a) register online for hikes & workshops, and then pay online,
     b) print off the registration form from digital e-brochure and mail the
      registration form and payment in. Please allow a week for mail. or
     c) register and pay in person.
4) Get your equipment ready – daypack,  sunscreen, insect repellent,  water
     bottles, hiking clothes, hiking socks, hiking boots, camera, batteries,
     battery charger, memory cards, sun glasses,  soft shell jacket, wind
     breaker/rain jacket, hiking poles or walking stick, hat, etc.  
5) You should start hiking more – a) you should be going on longer hikes now
      as it gets closer to the festival as well doing two a day. b) Then hike two
      consecutive days.
6) Tell your friends about this Hiking Festival and encourage them to attend
     as well. Help them prepare.

Hope this checklist gets you ready and is a useful resource list.

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Lady Slipper on Franey Hiking Trail, CB Highlands National Park

Lady Slipper on Franey Hiking Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

 

It has been foggy this past weekend with drizzle so I decided to do a fitness hike and get some exercise in on one of my favorite trails – Franey in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  I took out my nordic walking poles,  put my smart wool socks on – a different type this time – trekking heavy (cushion) crew socks.  It was a warm and muggy day…so I took lots of water….and off I went.

The poles were a great help going up  Franey and down and the new trekking heavy socks worked very well.. I took a few pics on the hike but what caught my eye were the Lady Slippers…however they seemed to be on their way out… I learned a valuable lesson on this hike – don’t wear cotton t-shirt on a hot and muggy day….I was soaked… a good base layer for example – merino wool, or polyster, keeps the dampness from against the skin… Not sure if it would of have kept the mosquitos away …They attacked me on the way down… but on the bright side, I did hike Franey in 2 hours….one of my best times yet and one of the benefits of a fitness hike.

Franey is one of the hikes featured in the 2009 Hike the Highlands Festival, September 11-20, 2009. It well known for its elevation  and incredible views of the Clyburn Valley, South & North Bay & Middlehead. It is a classic hike with some of the  best views of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park  at the top.

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What is the difference between nordic walking poles and trekking poles ?  I thought I would do some research and find out some answers for you. I have used both types while hiking but more with nordic walking poles as I own a pair of those – a one piece design.  However I did use the trekking poles for going up and down hills while hiking last year.  Both are good for hiking. There are a number of excellent resources out there with American Nordic Walking Association, Lexi, Exerstrider, Backpackinglight.com forum, Canadian Nordic Walking Association,  Nordic Walking UK , plus many more.

My research indicates two main differences – the pole and the stride.  The nordic walking pole is lighter especially the one piece design, grips are different on both set of poles especially nordic poles where you put thumb thru while trekking poles seem to be worn loose. The tip on Nordic Walking poles  is on a 45 degree angle while trekking poles tend to be flat. The trekking poles are  three piece, telescoping and adjustable. For the stride – Nordic walking poles- the follow through is important, the tips are meant to be engaged in the sides and behind the body while walking. Nordic walking poles meant for fitness walking whike trekking poles more for balance & stability and helping take pressure off your knees downhill. Trekking poles are planted in front while walking. My conclusion both poles will help you hiking.  Below are two videos showing you walking by trekking poles and nordic walking poles.

 Below is a video on Trekking Poles by Jayah Faye Paley

             
Below is video  of Nordic Walking by Linda Lemke

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