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By Mariya Greeley | Video by Sam Crimmins
| June 18, 2018
Maria Andrews, a Quincy native with her own dog walking business, was typically hiking three or four miles each morning with her dog, Sophia, when she started the Hike 125 Challenge—a friendly competition put on each year by The Trustees of Reservations to hike at least 125 miles between April and December. Andrews not only completed the challenge, but also became the first non-staff member to visit all 116 of the Trustees properties across Massachusetts.
That experience prompted us to ask Andrews to share her tips for hikers of any experience level.
What are your favorite trails in the Boston area?
I would say Whitney and Thayer Woods and World’s End. For a shorter hike, Eleanor Bradley Cabot Estates is awesome. It’s about a two-mile loop trail, but you can make it longer by going up into the woods in the back. Also, Blue Hills Reservation—it’s probably 20 minutes from Boston and there are so many network trails. If I could pop a tent and live in there, I would.
What’s the best hike you’ve ever been on?
Tyringham Cobble in the Berkshires was one of my favorite hikes. You just smell the fresh air. It’s different from here in Quincy and even in Blue Hills. I would highly recommend it.
What should everyone be sure to pack?
On any hike I carry my first aid kit, a whole bunch of water, and snacks—I’ll bring protein bars and trail mix. If I’m going on a longer hike, I’ll make sure I pack so that I can spend a night on a mountain if I should have to. I carry freeze-dried food with my portable jet boil, just in case. And always bring a trail map, even if you’ve been there 100 times. Everything else I pack is for my dog.
Do you have any tips for hiking with pets?
Dogs will go, and go, and go until they just drop, so you have to be careful. Condition them like you would yourself: start slow, and then gradually increase mileage. I started Sophia with half a mile and she recovered from that easily. I gradually increased it by a half mile every time we did a hike. Now she’s capable of doing nine miles, and we’re averaging around four or five.
What should people keep in mind when dressing for a hike?
The clothing is really important, especially in New England. You want to dress in layers because you could be really hot at the bottom of a trail but get to the top of the mountain and be freezing, even in the summer.
What qualities make for good hiking clothes?
Any kind of wicking fabric. I’d stay away from cotton. It gets wet and doesn’t wick that away. Also, lightweight clothes because you don’t want to be bulky—it’s just easier to move in lightweight clothes. Merino wool pieces are amazing. They’re lightweight, they wick moisture, and they come in really great colors. They’re really soft and the cuts are really nice. They’re everything I actually want in hiking clothes.
What’s your favorite wool piece?
I have Smartwool socks. I love them. The ones that I use don’t make my feet sweat. Most socks are cotton, and if you wear cotton socks your feet get clammy and wet. They’re never comfortable and can cause problems with blistering. The socks that I have are very thin wool.
What misconceptions do you think people have about wool?
I, myself, originally thought that wool was just heavy winter, bulky clothing—stuff that keeps you warm, but you might be a little bit itchy in or uncomfortable in. Merino wool clothes don’t do that at all. It’s the complete opposite of what I would think would be made of wool.
What would you say to someone who thinks they’re too out of shape to hike?
Find a flat trail, something like Eleanor Cabot Estates or World’s End. Even in the Blue Hills there are trails that are very flat, like Houghton’s Pond. It’s less than a mile and it has spots that you can sit. Start slow, but just start. When you’re just taking walks in nature it’s totally different than exercising.
Any tips for hikers that we haven’t touched on yet?
Hike early, especially in the summer, to avoid the heat. Please, please, please follow the leave no trace principle: take out what you bring in, especially concerning dog waste. And just go out. There’s no other better experience, at least in my opinion.
This Q & A has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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