Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking

essential oils for hiking

Hiking is one of those summer activities that I really love. It’s one of those go anywhere activities that is always an adventure, an exploration of the natural space around you and different every time. It’s inexpensive and is available to everyone of all ages and all levels. All you really need is a good pair of hiking boots. (Ok I know to hike safely there’s a few more things you should bring – backpack, first aid kit, water, etc. – but in essence your equipment is minimal and it can be an inexpensive but very enjoyable activity).

Hiking also provides us with many health benefits from strengthening your core, lowering blood pressure and improving your balance. Not to mention the benefits of simply being out in nature (like leaving that technology behind!) I always feel fantastic after a day of hiking, whether it’s been a 3 km loop on a flat trail or a good hike up the side of a mountain. I always feel more alive and invigorated than when I left.

What does not always feel so great though are some of the after effects of hiking. From sore achy muscles (especially if this is my first hike of the season), to possibly a few scrapes and bruises or some insect bites. Even though sometimes that nice all over achy feeling can be a good feeling, I like to avoid the “Oh my God now it hurts to move” the next day.

Last summer, quite by accident, I discovered a combination to help reduce these aches and pains and a few other hiking ‘side effects’ while using my essential oils. I had been an avid user of essential oils for the past year and was discovering more and more about their benefits and uses. I just naturally started to bring them along on trips as I usually needed an oil for something. What I hadn’t though about yet was how I could use them specifically for hiking.

essential oils for hikers

I had just done a hike with the kids around Moraine Lake, which is near Lake Louise. It was only a short hike that day, but we had done a bit of climbing and I was already starting to feel achy. Taking what I knew, I quickly decided to take a drop of Frankincense internally* and apply some Deep Blue to my muscles. (I love Deep Blue, I think it is one of the most amazing blends for aches and pains. I love how it penetrates and gives you that nice cooling feeling). Then I carried on with the evening making supper and sitting around the fire. The next day when I woke up I fully expected to be at least a little bit achy. But to my surprise I wasn’t at all! I was thrilled! and happily put my boots on again for another hike with the kids, this time a 12 km adventure.

Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking

This also made me think about what other essential oils would be beneficial for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. So I explored more and as a result give you the Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking (really must have’s don’t leave home without them list).

  1. essential oils for hikersFrankincense – supports cellular health and cellular restructure and rebuilding. Perfect for supporting healing those muscles after a hike or any workout.
  2. Deep Blue – formulated to soothe and cool, this wonderful blend does just that. It reminds me of my Grandpa’s old formula of A5-35, but nicer smelling and all natural! Apply topically where needed.
  3. Peppermint – this one does a lot for hikers. It supports opening up your airways, can soothe aches and pains as well as cools and refreshes (place a drop on the back of the neck) when your feeling hot. It is also a wonderful oil for giving you an energy boost – you know if you need it to get up that last little bit to the top.
  4. Eucalyptus – is the oil of wellness, so great all around for hiking to feel well – will also open up your airways. Apply 1-2 drops topically across the chest.
  5. essential oils for hikersWild Orange – is an uplifting and energizing oil. You probably already feel great cause your outside enjoying the outdoors, but that extra little lift wouldn’t hurt, nor that boost of energy to get to the top! Drop 1-2 drops into your hands, rub them together, cup gently over the nose and mouth and inhale deeply for 30-60 seconds.
  6. Cypress – this one is excellent when hiking at higher elevations as it provides circulatory support. Use 1 drop topically across the chest.
  7. Lavender – eases sore achy muscles, supports anti inflammatory and is great for reducing itchiness from bug bites! Apply topically where needed.
  8. Myrrh – has powerful cleansing properties and when combined with lavender (which is also anti fungal and anti bacterial) in a spray bottle makes an excellent foot spray to use in your hiking boots to prevent foot fungus.

**Essential oils can be used 3 ways, aromatically, topically and internally. Depending on the intended outcome (and kind of oil) will depend on how best to use it.

I use these in a combination of ways from preventative to after care. I usually do my frank and deep blue combination after the hike, but often use my peppermint topically across the chest before heading out and I always take a drop of Wild Orange in my hands rub them together and breathe deeply before I start any day.

Depending on what kind of hike I am doing I’ll use the cypress topically for the higher elevation hikes and I always spray my boots with the lavender myrrh combination before heading out.

Of course I bring a little ‘mini’ first aid kit of these oils (and a few others) so I have them on hand should the need arise – like lavender for bug bites and Terra Shield for bug repellant. I pack them in small dram bottles which does not take up much room in my pack and I have been very glad to have them on many occasion.

essential oils for hiking

Essential oils are such wonderful things! and can do so many things for us in supporting our health and wellness, both on a physical and emotional level. If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils or would like to give some of these a try on your next hike, contact me and I’d love to help you out.

*Note: not all essential oils are safe to ingest. Depending on what oil it is and what brand (as not all essential oils are created equally due to growing practices, extraction of the oil, etc. There are also currently no regulations or guidelines on producing essential oils in Canada) Ensure you research the brand of essential oil you are using to be sure.

Summer Tidbits

Summer is here! Hooray! It seems like we wait all year for this season and when it finally gets here there is so much to do. I always find that the summer is so short and chalk full of activities. Before summer even begins we have it fully planned out with lots of trips, adventures and explorations. I am often thinking about summer in April or May making the plans that I want to make as I know it fills up so quickly.

We do a lot of car travel in the summer, going to the mountains, camping and visiting my family in the Okanogan. It is busy but we have a great time as I like to make the most of the season and do and see as much as we can.

With these things in mind I am recapping my favorite summer posts, activities, recipes, games that help make the road trips easier, the hot summer days more enjoyable and keep everyone eating healthier. Of course I’ll add more as this summer goes on but here are some great tidbits to get you started – with my favorite Car Games for Kids! (I have to say Counting Cows is my absolute favorite and one that we play again and again)

Summer Road Trips – Car Games for Kids http://www.mommaonthemove.ca/index.php/archives/111

Grasshopper Popsicles http://www.mommaonthemove.ca/index.php/archives/44

Crunchy Broccoli Feta Salad http://www.mommaonthemove.ca/index.php/archives/1597

Hiking with Children http://www.mommaonthemove.ca/index.php/archives/295

Luke and Chloe’s First Hike

Giant Cedars Trail

One of the great things about children is that if you introduce things to them when they are little they usually just accept it. They approach everything with wonder and delight, curiousity and a willingness to try.

When you introduce it at a young age they do not have the fears or hang ups that we do as adults, the beliefs that we can’t or shouldn’t, or the stubborness to refuse what you are suggesting because they ‘don’t want to’. This is one of the beautys of being a child and spending time with a child. They remind us to try it all and to move forward fearlessly because you never know what joys you are going to experience.

We have introduced things early on with all of our children, in many things, but specifically in introducing camping and hiking to them; all at around the age of 2. Matthew’s first hike was the Fenland Trail in Banff, a 2 km loop through a lush forested area. He completed it easily and then we did another short hike after lunch that day. I think he did 5 km total that day and he was only 2 or 3.

Luke and Chloe’s first hike was a few weeks ago on our way to visit my parents in Oliver, BC. We had stopped for lunch at the Giant Cedars trail in Mt. Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia. There was a picnic area and washrooms to use and after our tummies were full, we went for a walk along the trail.

The Giant Cedars trail is an easy, self guided, 500 m loop with some of the oldest trees in the Columbia Mountains. Featuring the largest western red cedars and dark brown western hemlocks, this boardwalk trail is lush, green and alive. As soon as you enter the trail you can feel the warmth and comfort of a such an old forest.

Chloe taking the stairs at the beginning of the trail

It is a great trail for kids with lots to discover and explore. There are benches along the way so you can sit and relax, enjoying the serene atmosphere and the magic of an old growth forest. Both Chloe and Luke effortlessly went up the stairs that start the trail. Chloe was delighted by the little brook flowing by and would stop every time she saw water. She would scream in delight, “water!” and then bend over, hands on her thighs to take a closer look.

Devil's Club

We meandered along the trail checking things out, the Giant Devil’s Club, the nurse logs and fungi. We read the interpretive signs at different points along the trail describing the age of the trees (over 500 years old), the animals who live there, such as bats, bears and caribou; and how they all make up an important and healthy functioning ecosystem.

Luke was very excited about the fairies which he shared were in their houses; which he told me were the splits in the trees or under the lush underbrush. Both Luke and Chloe walked the whole way, with Chloe stopping to hug and kiss trees and Luke checking out the flowers. Matthew of course ran the trail, cause as usual he had energy to burn. It took us half an hour to do the trail, but is typically done in 15-20 minutes, depending on how fast you move along the trail and if you stop to linger.

Fairy Houses

It is a great place to relax and unplug for a while, to just sit and soak up the atmosphere. It is also a super easy hike for kids and will be a great first or early experience for them.

Hugging a tree

The key to hiking with kids to make their first experiences easy (short enough that they can walk it without feeling tired or have to be carried), achievable (something that they can do all by themselves without feeling discouraged at the end), interesting (lots of things to see, check out and explore) and in proper footwear. Now I would not run out and buy hiking boots for my 2 year old, but it is a good idea to ensure that they have sturdy, closed toed shoes, like runners. If you make their first experiences enjoyable and memorable than they will quickly and easily develop a love for hiking (and an appreciation for their natural environment) as they grow up.

Wapta Falls

Wapta Falls

On the weekend that Matthew and I did the Burgess Shale hike (read more in earlier post) we also did a few shorter hikes the following day. We did this for a few reasons, one was that Matthew was up bouncing around and had some energy to burn (yes after 22 km the previous day, he was neither tired, nor sore) and I also felt it was a good idea to move a little and do a short hike so we wouldn’t stiffen up. Not that Matthew would.

Plus I love going and exploring. We’re often driving through Yoho National Park on our way to somewhere else and don’t make any stops to check things out. So as I’m driving through I mentally make a list of places/ hikes I would like to go and see for the time that we do stop and stay awhile.

Spiderweb in a Tree

Wapta Falls is an easy 5 km return hike in Yoho National Park in British Columbia, along a treed path to a beautiful waterfall at the end. Though fairly flat, the trail ends in a slight incline to get to the falls but is a great trail for beginner hikers and for kids. There are lots of things to explore and discover along the way; we found a beautiful spider web between the branches of a tree and an interesting bump on another tree.  Of course there is the anticipation of the falls at the end, which as you are hiking along the path, can hear before you actually see it. Drawing you, beckoning you.

MEC Happy Trails Baby Carrier

Though the trail is suitable for children, it is not suitable for strollers. There are bumps and tree roots along the way that make it quite difficult to navigate a stroller on it. If the children are not walking on their own then I would recommend one of those backpack carriers for small children. There are many different styles and brands out there, we have one from Mountain Equipment Coop we really like, as well as one from Baby Trend.

Matthew practically ran down the trail and we had to ask him a few times to slow down, or pause to take a break. The rush of the waterfall was drawing him in and he was getting excited!

There are 3 spots where you can look at the falls. It is a bit deceiving when you first come to the falls as it looks like that is where the trail ends. There is a fenced area overlooking the falls with a bench to sit and relax. A lot of people assume that this is where the trail ends but if you continue down the trail, you can go off to the left for a different view or continue all the way to the bottom.

Matthew at the bottom of Wapta Falls

If you go all the way to the bottom, the trail ends by coming out onto a beach along the river at the bottom of the falls. It is a great place to sit and just be, soaking up the beauty and absorbing yourself in this calm, peaceful environment. The kids will love playing in the sand or throwing rocks into the water, or you can even move down along the shore a little ways and continue to explore. It’s a lovely spot to sit and have a snack or enjoy your lunch as you gaze at the waterfalls.

After spending some time at the falls we hiked out, Matthew again running – oh to have the energy of a child, and enjoyed some nice relaxing quiet time back at the campsite. Well I did, Matthew on the other hand was busy as usual, chopping wood.

 

The Burgess Shale – Walcott Quarry

For the past 2 summers I have taken Matthew for a mother and son camping trip. It is a great opportunity to spend some one on one time with him doing something we both love. We try and change it up each year, choosing different sites to camp at and different things to do. This past weekend, Matthew and I went to Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies. We did the Burgess Shale Hike to Walcott Quarry, a 22 km guided hike up through the mountains, to view the famous fossils.

Matthew and I at Walcott Quarry

A World Heritage Site, the Burgess Shale is considered the world’s most important fossil site that preserves one of the world’s first complex marine ecosystems. It has also been shown that 95% of the world’s species have evolved from these fossils; the origin of all life.

Discovered by Charles Walcott in 1909, this is the world’s most significant fossil discovery because of their age (500 million years old), diversity and the incredible detail of the preservation of the fossils. It is truly a wonder to be discovered and enjoyed.

This fascinating find attracts researchers from all over the world, as well as hikers. As a protected site, the only way to access the site is on one of the guided hikes provided through Yoho National Park or the Geoscience Foundation in Field, BC. This is to preserve and protect the site from misuse and vandalism and continue to utilize it for research.

A Trilobite

You can choose one of 2 hikes, the Mount Stephen Fossil Bed or Walcott Quarry. Both hikes can be challenging and it is best to go to the National Park website to determine which hike is most suitable for you. Though Mount Stephen is shorter in distance it is strenuous and steep, while Walcott Quarry is longer in distance, it is less steep.

I have wanted to go on this hike for many years, every time I drove through Field I thought maybe this year I will go. One of the reasons I had not gone yet was that I did not have anyone that was interested in going with me. And though I do many things by myself, this was something I wished to share with a friend or family member.

I was very pleased and excited when I suggested to Matthew that we go. He seemed keen and interested and though the 22 km hike was more than he had hiked before (he had done up to 14 km), he was willing to do it.

We choose the Walcott hike because it was a less strenuous and difficult hike, as well as the fact that there are a variety of fossils found at this site, such as trilobites, marrella, anomlocaris; compared to Mount Stephen, which is mainly trilobites. We felt that even though the distance was longer that this hike overall would be a more satisfying and exciting experience.

Takakkaw Falls

After waking up at 6 am and a quick breakfast, we met at the trailhead at Takakkaw Falls at 7:15 ready to start our day. It was going to be a beautiful day, the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky. We met our Parks Canada Guide Kristi and fellow hikers and after going through a few ligistics we were off!

Matthew was the youngest in the group and I could tell that some of our fellow hikers were a little shocked/ concerned that he was coming along. I admit I was a little nervous for him but I knew in my heart that he could do it. He is a strong resilient kid and we had already hiked many trails and terrains over the last year. Though he might be tired at the end of the day, I knew he would do it.

Learning about the fossils

By 1 pm we were up at the fossil site with a stunning mountain view of Mount Burgess and overlooking Emerald Lake. We got to spend a full hour here, exploring and discovering fossils. It was amazing!

Mount Burgess

We had to wear helmets to protect ourselves from possible rock fall overhead and were literally standing on the slope of a mountain. Our guide provided us with fact sheets to help us identify what we found, as well as little eye magnifying pieces to get a better, or sharpened look at the fossils. We were also able to do fossil rubbings, with good old fashioned paper and crayon. It was awesome and so fascinating!

Matthew studying a trilobite

Matthew loved it. He loves that kind of sciency stuff and gadgets to check it all out with. And he was pretty excited and proud of himself for completing the hike as well. Yes he was very tired by the time we got back to the parking lot, but he did it, and he did it without whining or complaining. He’s an amazing kid! And once we fed him dinner and got back to the campsite, he was up running around and zooming off on his bike. Where does he find the energy?

Of course the next day I was a little sore and stiff, not my 8 year old. Bouncing around ready for another day. So I took him on another hike 🙂

The Burgess Shale is a fascinating hike and once in a lifetime experience; even if you are not a science geek, the fossils are fascinating to see and the scenery alone is worth the hike. It is also very cool to see and be a part of these fossils and to understand that we evolved from these guys. To see them preserved is something I can’t really describe, it’s one of those things that you’ve got to do to understand the awe and wonder of it.

I did it! 22 km and still alive! It was awesome!

Note: This hike is not suitable for young children, even if taken in a baby carrier. 8 years old and up is what is recommended on the website and not many 8 year olds actually do it. Please ensure that your child has hiked distance before and has the stamina, determination and interest in doing it. This is not only for their safety but for the safety of everyone on the hike as well.

Fact sheets and fossils

Want to know more about the Burgess Shale? Check out these great websites for more information

www.pc.gc.ca/burgessshale

www.burgess-shale.rom.on.ca

www.tyrrellmuseum.com/exhibits/burgess_shale.htm

How to Take Time for Yourself (even with the kids at home this Summer)

Summer is a busy time with the kids at home, activities and outings, camping, hiking, vacations and road trips. You are going from one place to the next getting in as much as you can in our short season. (Well I do, I like to pack it all in in about 8 weeks as I know we only have so much time to do all the things we love. And you have to take advantage of the warm and sunny days cause you never know when the rain is going to come and sock you in for a few days and the temperature drops)

The problem is still taking time for yourself with all this increased activity and time with the kids at home. We all know how important it is for Mom (or Dad) to take time for ourselves. A happy parent equals a happy family. We are better able to manage our day, handle challenges and stress and just enjoy life more!

So here are some tips and things that I do so that I get ‘my time’ throughout the day and am still present and ready for my children.

Get up half an hour early, before the kids do and do something for yourself. You might argue that you need your sleep but trust me this is worth it. Do whatever feeds your spirit, whether it be a quiet cup of coffee or tea, meditate, yoga, stretching, something that you enjoy and puts you in a peaceful, calm and happy mind state.

Have quiet time after lunch My little ones still nap so I get a 2 hour window in the afternoon to do what I want; but with my older son home from school that changes. I know you’re saying my kids don’t nap at all! What we have done is set up quiet time after lunch for 30 minutes. All the children go to their rooms at the same time and do a quiet activity such as reading, drawing, etc. The babies still nap so they go to sleep but this works well with Matthew; and I will continue to do it once the babies no longer nap. Then you have time to yourself to do something for you, without the kids, and is a nice break for everyone during the day.

Make a cup of tea, coffee, lemonade, etc. You notice that the kids are playing nicely, take that 5 or 10 minutes and sit down and enjoy your favorite drink. I often find that having just those few minutes is a great way to recharge.

Breathe I am sure you have heard this one before, a few deep breaths can do a world of wonders and I mean in through the nose and out through the mouth, filling up and expanding the stomach. You don’t need a block of time to do this, you can do it on the spot, kids or not for just a few minutes.

Set up some scheduled breaks Whether it be a playdate or you hire a babysitter, this provides the opportunity to take a break and do what you would like for a bit. Whether it be to go for coffee with a friend or by yourself, a massage, a little shopping. You can even take advantage of registering your child(ren) in a day camp program. This will not only provide a break for you but some variety for the kids.

I have found the key is purposely scheduling some time for you, while making sure that the kids are occupied and safe. If I do not schedule time during my day I find I get to the end of the day and am just exhausted. Once you have the time it is easy to find things to do! and  even short breaks can make a world of difference.

The important thing is to do things that truly feed your spirit and rejuvenate you, don’t use that time to do housework or prepare dinner! Things like going outside, even if just in the backyard if you can’t leave the house, go for a walk, a massage, coffee, read or even an uninterrupted phone conversation with a friend! You know what feeds you best, do it and everyone will be better off for it.