So you love the outdoors and cannot wait to climb that next mountain or tackle that next trail - but your travel partner is not wanting the same level of challenge as you?
It can be quite tricky to make the experience enjoyable for both of you, especially when going on a trip with people new to hiking or of a different fitness level.
We have put together a few suggestions
Don’t lose your patience
It is easy to get annoyed waiting for your friend (in the pouring rain) whilst all you want to do is keep going. As you dream of the hot drink in front of the fire in the hut, stop and consider that your partner is probably trying to keep up and therefore no doubt wishing they were faster too.
Your partner may be new to hiking and/or (for any number of reasons) not have the physical ability to keep up with you – heck, he/she might only be having a bad day - these can make it tough to keep up. So don’t be hard on them as the odds are that will not make any difference to the time you complete your hike and will only detract from the experience for both of you.
Try to encourage your partner and do not show them that you are bored or a bit annoyed. Feeling like a liability will only make them feel worse and might even slow them down more. Therefore, try to:
Motivate your partner
Encourage and motivate them with the picture of a hot chocolate and warm fire you have in your mind already. They might not see further than the steep hill they are looking at right now. Talking might also take the focus away from the weight of their backpack, which makes it easier to continue walking. As well as verbally cheering them on you could try to:
Take weight off them
Pack weight might be an additional factor slowing them down, so, if you feel up to the challenge, offer to take weight off them. Having to carry a few kilo’s less might just be what they need. Also chances are your sacrifice will make their backpack appear even lighter and give them that boost they need to finish the track. It will make your hike a more challenging experience too.
Let them walk at their own pace
When doing a multi-day hiking trip you might not want to walk at the pace of your partner all the time and instead would like to challenge yourself on certain parts of the hike. We strongly encourage you to do so! However, let your hiking partner know about your plans and do not simply sprint ahead.
On a nice sunny day with your partner motivated after having had a hearty breakfast, just simply let him/her know you want to challenge yourself. Stress that they do not have to feel pressured to keep up and set up meeting points at track junctions where you’ll wait for each other. This way each of you can enjoy the hike at your own pace whilst not losing contact and knowing someone is expecting you at certain points.
If you are walking through poorly marked terrain make the distance between meet-up points shorter to ensure you keep an eye on each other.
Let them have their break as well
Remember why you wanted to share this experience
When hiking at your own pace, make sure to not only let your partner catch up – but also have a short break. After waiting for your partner for a while all you want to do when they meet you might be to continue your walk. Remember that your partner just arrived though and they did not have that sip of water that you just took and eaten the few nuts that will help keep them going. Give them 5 minutes to sort themselves out and then continue your hike.
You went hiking WITH them for a reason
And last but not least – remember you went hiking together. The reasons for hiking together might vary from them simply being your friend, to someone wanting to try hiking after hearing all your awesome stories and looking at the pictures. Or perhaps they are your new - or long-term partner - and they want to understand what it is that drags you out into the wilderness. Maybe they also just want to get fit and thought hiking would be the perfect start.
Whatever the reason may be – remember you went together and hence you should try to support your buddy and not outrace them.
In case your partner is not into hiking or is not physically capable of hiking
In case your partner is not into hiking or is perhaps not physically capable of hiking, here are some trip options which let you get your quota of hiking and them their relaxation time.
Let your partner relax whilst you are out hiking
Depending on their walking ability, your partner can either hike parts of the track and catch the water taxi to/from certain locations, or they can go straight to the accommodation by water taxi and enjoy the National Park’s golden beaches whilst they wait for you.
Like the Abel Tasman Track, there are a number of options every day. You can choose to catch the water taxi from lodge to lodge or you can organise to do a shorter walk and catch the water taxi part way through the day. The Queen Charlotte Track is a 70 kilometer hiker’s paradise with ideal shorter hiking day options.
There is the option of being helicopter-lifted between huts, which is a plus for non-walking partners. This is charged on a per sector basis. This way you can enjoy your walk and still enjoy your partner's company at the end of the day.
During the day your partner can cruise around the lake with the boat Skipper, relax on a beach, or try to catch one of the lake's elusive trout. The non-walkers can cover the distance between huts by boat and meet up with you for the evenings at the huts.
We hope that these tips will make the hiking trip enjoyable for both of you.