10 Hikes That Will Help You Get Over a Breakup
Nature is truly the best medicine. These bucket-list trails and hiking trips will pull you out of your slump and build your confidence back up.
Photo By: Julian Manrique | WhereNext
Photo By: Julian Manrique | WhereNext
Photo By: Kimberly Strom
Photo By: © ATTA / Rupert Shanks
Photo By: REI Adventures
Photo By: Destination BC | Mike Seehage
Photo By: Lukas Hodon
Why You Should Go on a Trek After a Break Up
I went through a breakup last summer sandwiched between two challenging hiking trips. The first, a series of day hikes on the Italian portion of the Tour du Mont Blanc, put some big life decisions into perspective for me. The second, post-break-up, was a five-day trek around Peru's nearly 21,000-foot Mt. Ausangate. It showed me that everything would be OK.
It's hard to say exactly what it is about trekking that's so grounding and healing. During a serious trek, any given moment might feel exhausting, impossible or overwhelming. But somehow, when you weave all those moments together, even a trek with awful weather or altitude sickness or the toughest hill you've ever climbed can become a beautiful, even life-changing, experience in retrospect. And there's no denying how hiking, which relies so much on your inner-resolve and resources, can also serve as a reset button and reminder that you can get through anything on your own. It's an especially important reminder if you've just spent months, or years or even decades seeing yourself as part of a couple.
You know the saying that time heals all things. I'm pretty sure nature helps speed it up. Whatever it is you’re going through right now, these hikes and trekking trips will help you find clarity and move forward.
Ausangate Trek, Peru
Long before my breakup, I made plans to hike the Ausangate Trek in Peru with REI Adventures. The timing ultimately turned out to be serendipitous — less than two weeks after the split. As I fought internally about whether I'd made the right choices and said the right things, I also literally fought to catch my breath on the trail. The 43-mile Ausangate Trek is no joke. To put it into perspective, Machu Picchu was our warm-up hike, a chance to get a bit more acclimated to the high elevation of the Andes. After marveling at Incan ruins, we drove higher into the mountains for five days and four nights of hiking and sleeping above 14,000 feet of elevation. It was an extremely challenging adventure, which was exactly what I needed. Each step was both harder and easier than the last, rewarded with stunning glacial views, mountains in deeply saturated hues of red, green and yellow and camaraderie with my hiking partners. The lodges where we stayed were totally off-the-grid and far beyond the reaches of cell service, and I realized I was long overdue for a total digital detox.
Hiking in a group like this can fast-track new friendships, which might be exactly what you need if you're feeling disconnected. In a matter of days, I felt like I'd known everyone in our group for a decade. I've never felt more physically exhausted or mentally restored, which I'd say is the mark of a good trip.
Tour du Mont Blanc, Italy, France and Switzerland
The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the world's most famous hikes. The 110-mile trail circles Mont Blanc through Italy, France and Switzerland, offering views of snow-capped peaks so stunning they defy belief. I hiked a few short sections of the trail over the summer with a handful of other women, most of whom were strangers when we started. I'm lucky to now count several of them among my closest friends. The TMB, as it's often called, is the kind of trail that challenges your spirit and handsomely rewards perseverance. There are many huts and lodges along the trail where you can sleep in a comfortable bed and eat a hot, fresh-cooked meal — not exactly roughing it. You don't need a guide to hike this trek but operators like Exodus Travels can handle the logistics for you, including porting your luggage so you only have to carry the essentials during the day. Salomon's expandable Out Night pack for women is compact enough to be a day pack and roomy enough to suffice for short overnight trips if you're an ultra-light packer. The strap and suspension system, specifically designed to hug your curves, fit more like a comfortable vest than a backpack.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is one of nature's greatest masterpieces. It's the kind of view you can't fully appreciate unless you're standing right on the edge of the canyon, so its beauty hits you all at once when you peer over the rim. Its scale is so incomprehensibly big it's nearly impossible to think of yourself as anything but miniscule in comparison. If you're looking for a place to reconnect with yourself and get completely off the grid, take a backpacking trip down to the canyon floor. Permits for overnight routes from the South Rim can be tricky to obtain because so many people want to hike the canyon, but you can get around that by going with a guide. This four-day REI Adventures trip on the Hermit Rapids Loop includes two nights spent hiking and sleeping on the canyon floor.
Jordan Trail, Jordan
The 400-mile Jordan Trail spans the length of the country, passing through much more diverse terrain than you might expect to find. Yes, there are deserts, but there are also hot springs and the Red Sea, which is full of diving and snorkeling opportunities. If you only do one section of the trail, make it the 52-mile stretch from Dana to Petra. There, you can rest your tired feet as you stare awestruck at the ruins of the famed ancient city. Petra is one tourist attraction that does not disappoint — it's even more confounding when you see it in person. The Jordan Trail Association offers substantial information about each segment of the hike on its website, but going with a local guide allows you ample opportunities to ask questions about the history of the Nabateans, the ancient people who built the city. The Jordan Trail Association runs a supported thru-hike every year.
Huemul Loop, Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina
Patagonia holds some of the world's most incredible and challenging terrain. Earn stunning views of calving glaciers, icebergs and dramatic peaks and valleys on the 40-mile Huemul Loop in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. This trek is not for the newbie backpacker: It involves ziplining over a river and elevation gains and/or losses of up to 3,500 feet each day.
Buy It: REI Adventures, Price TBD
Monkman Lake Trail, British Columbia
The 31-mile Monkman Lake Trail showcases the best of nature's power and serenity. Along the trail, you'll find the Monkman Cascades, eight magnificent waterfalls separated by calm, quiet pools. There are ample campsites along the trail, which is best done in three to four days. Monkman Provincial Park is in northern British Columbia, which receives relatively few visitors compared with tourist hot spots like Whistler, Vancouver and Alberta's Banff National Park, so you're likely to find peace and quiet on this trail. Be sure to visit the Tumbler Ridge Museum before or after your hike to learn more about the area's natural history — dinosaur footprints have been found in the area.
Annapurna Homestay Trek, Nepal
You can see some of the world's most incredible mountains on this challenging trek in the Annapurna section of the Himalayas in Nepal. Over five days, you'll hike from tea house to tea house and score views of peaks like the 26,000-foot Annapurna. The trek passes through many villages along the way, so can experience local culture while you rest your tired body. Intrepid Travel operates this trip and requires only a $1 deposit between now and Feb. 13.
Knuckles Mountain Range, Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka's Knuckles Mountain Range, you can trek past waterfalls, rice paddies and small mountainside villages. On this trekking-focused trip with Intrepid Travel, you'll hike over 60 miles in the span of two weeks, including three nights of challenging backpacking. The highlight? A sunrise summit of Adam's Peak, a 7,359-foot conical peak in central Sri Lanka. The summit push starts at midnight so you can watch the sun rise over the landscape from the top.
Mount Toubkal, Morocco
Scaling Morocco's Mount Toubkal will thoroughly challenge your body and mind: The summit push for this 13,671-foot mountain typically starts well before dawn so you can watch sunrise from the top. Toubkal is the tallest mountain in all of North Africa, offering panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains. This five-day trip with Exodus Travels includes luggage portage to make the trek easier, plus a traditional hammam experience to steam, soak and scrub your achy muscles post-trek.
Terceira Island, Azores
Take guided hikes on the impossibly green island of Terceira on this trip from Azores Getaways. The Azores, a set of volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic, are known for their dramatic peaks and picturesque villages. This trip is ideal if you're looking for an inexpensive and relatively quick way to feel worlds away from home: Azores Getaways trips include round-trip direct flights from Boston, which are just four hours each way.