You must be in good physical condition in order to enjoy your hiking adventure. The distances are long and for part of the day you will be schlepping a knapsack holding three to four litres of water.
We recommend regular exercise during the several months leading up to the hike, including some hill climbing. In the Toronto area, Earl Bales Park or Sunnybrook offer good local hills and everyone should participate in a cardio program to keep your overall fitness level at a high peak.
To train for this very challenging hike, choose an area where you can practice walking on uneven terrain. In Southern Ontario, the Bruce Trail and hiking trails in cottage country would provide excellent terrain for practicing.
Jogging and walking on level and hilly terrain are both beneficial to improve your fitness level, and will strengthen your core and leg muscles. It is important to prepare your knees for the challenge of the hike. Treadmills set on high elevation and Stairmasters are perfect for winter training.
Start your training program at a level that is comfortable and moderately challenging, and increase both the duration and elevation week by week. As we will eventually be hiking for as much as 7 hours a day, it is a good idea to continually increase your training duration to the point where you can manage 10-15 kilometers at a quick pace on a moderate incline. It is also advised to start your training without carrying any weight, and eventually add a backpack with increased weight.
The One Family Fund Cross Israel Hike consists of four and one half consecutive days of hiking. If you can, we strongly recommend that you participate in some long distance training hikes on consecutive days, to ready your muscles for the repetitive nature of the hike. This will also give you a chance to confirm that your shoes fit properly and don’t give you blisters.
There is nothing worse than developing a blister early on in the trip, and have it get worse as the kilometers increase. Applying petroleum jelly over your entire foot will reduce friction and hopefully avoid blisters. Wear hiking socks that have been previously laundered. The moment you feel a blister developing, remove your sock and shoe and apply a protective pad or plaster to the affected area. Do not puncture the blister, but rather cut the dead skin away and keep the area clean and dry.
Before you begin your training (if you aren’t already physically active), we recommend that you consult with your family doctor, who can help you with a basic guideline for your personal training regimen. You may also want to consider working with a trainer, especially if you are starting from an inactive state. Eventually you will need a medical clearance from your Family Practioner as part of the registration process, so take the opportunity to describe the nature of the hike (as above) and ensure that he or she feels you are physically able to participate.
Finally, we can only describe the terrain in our own terms; each person’s interpretation of moderate or difficult hiking varies. Those of us who have walked the route would say that the more difficult routes are definitely challenging and not for those who have a fear of heights or precarious climbing! The intermediate route is equally beautiful with less steep terrain.
One Step. One Life. One Family.