|It's green, breezy,|
sometimes tough but always amazing
- Kfar Qatra
It's been a year and two months since I started hiking. Last April 2012, I joined a group that hiked every single Sunday, all year round, in the Chouf of Lebanon (sometimes Maten), and I have been hooked since then. Many of my friends and family get frustrated given that Sundays are mine especially that I try not to skip hiking days (maybe for a marathon or if I'm getting married). Of course, I first went to increase my physical activity, but actually hiking is more than 'more exercise' to me. It's a day off, a day of fresh clean air, all nature, no stress, no computers, no phones, no etiquette, no cars, no pollution, no noise. Just stress-free people in to enjoy a free, fun day.
Why hiking outdoors is now essential in my life
- First and foremost, I detach from my everyday life. As fun as it is, being stuck in traffic for at least 2 hours a day can become a bit tiresome. Not to mention the extensive computer/phone usage and work pressure. So going outdoors, where you can actually breathe fresh air and see the sun, clouds, sky, trees and flowers - where you can actually run, jump, more like play, is very different than exercising indoors, in a gym or at home.
- I increases an automatic 4 fun hours of my physical activity, with an average burning rate of 320 calories per one hour of cross-country hiking. Of course, the trail changes every time, which makes things 'interesting'. You'll never get bored, lots of people to socialize with and lots of plants and tees to learn about (and taste) - 4 hours feel like entertainment and pass like a charmer!
- It improves my cardio-pulmonary health from my blood circulation to my breathing and sweating capacity. More oxygen and nutrients are reaching my cells and more toxins are being cleared out, one of the many perks of physical activity!
- I have lost 17 kilograms of weight (around 38 pounds) so now I'm no longer overweight, my percentage body fat is within healthy ranges and I increased my muscle mass! Of course, my diet was as important as my exercise for these 2 work hand in hand. You can't hike or exercise in general and lose weight, unless you fix the quality as well as the quantity of your food intake! Healthy habits go with a healthy overall lifestyle.
- It improved my mental health, relieves my stress and I have excellent sleep quality, like a baby! I don't make these things up, I feel them and yea of course, science has my back!
- I get lots of my vitamin D needed! However, during scortching summer days, we try to avoid the sun as much as possible, walking by rivers, in the shades of trees.
- Hiking, or exercise in general, has lots of health benefits. It decreases your risk of blood pressure and diabetes type 2. It also puts lots of [good] pressure on your bones, increasing your bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Of course, I did not measure that, but it's a well known fact for weight-bearing exercises.
- And to be honest, I became a lighter, happier and more positive person since I started hiking. Hiking gave me a chance to experience getting lost in the woods, getting my shoes jammed between rocks, having to swim through a river to get to the other side of the valley and having to trust people I meet for the first time. All which improved my well being and outlook to life! These may seem simple and easy, but they actually reflect how I now deal with obstacles in my every day life - it's all just huge hike!
It is quite important to walk, hike, jog, run, swim, bicycle, row, jump ropes [you name the cardio exercise you love, so find one] at least 3 hours per week, so I actually hike for 4 to 5 hours on Sundays, but I also go for strength exercises weekdays such as lunges, squats, sit-ups, push-ups... These help me gain control over the range of my motion as well as increase my muscle mass - all which are great to become a better hiker!
|So come on a journey with me and discover my last year of hiking - Mrusti reserve|
|How it all began. My 2nd hiking trip |
back in April 2012, Barouk el Chouf still had lots of snow
|And this is the Chouf Reserve during Spring, I'm the one in pink!|
|Batloun during May - Mona letting her heart out!|
|We are always colorful!|
After hiking, we sit, eat and talk - Deir El Qamar
|Jahliye River, one of the most amazing places I have been introduced to in Chouf!|
And it's just near my hometown, Deir Dourit, who knew!
|Freeing your mind always helps!|
Moi near Mazraat El Chouf
|Najwa crossing the river.|
She made it the whole way without giving up those flowers she picked!
|I learned to cross the river too! I gotta mention that the water is always icy, so we never cross rivers during fall/winter seasons|
|And you know, whether it's rainy or sunny, we never skip a hike!|
Chouf during fall is breath taking!
|We even start our hiking as early as 6.30 am during sunny summer days - Bmohray!|
|This way we can finish early, before the scorching summer sun,|
to chillax with Rodrigue in the greenery
|Green green (and clean) wherever we go! Omar and some Roman ruins in Marj Besri|
|So if I ever hear someone saying they don't have the money or time to exercise, or that Lebanon's nature is mediocre, you're on my hiking list!! (I'm sure you'll love it!)|
PS: I never take my camera with me, so I have Ghandi Tarabay, Carlos Bou Nafeh, Mona Merhi, Nisrine Dairy, Bassam Zeineddine, Omar Malaeb, Hani Hamdan, Fayrousa Nasr, Nidal Rachid, Iyad Zydan and Mira Breish (not sure if I missed any!) to thank for those amazing, breath-taking, heart-wrenching photos!