Corps Hiking - Culture Of Fitness and More
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kerstin Roberts
Hiking is a cornerstone of the Marine Corps. The ability to put
100 pounds in your pack and start up a hill, knowing you will not
stop for hours, is a skill that every Marine shares. When you
finally see the peak, sweat pouring down your face, you know that
you must keep pushing. Then, once you have made it to the top of the
hill, you look over the ocean and take a moment to remember why you
felt the urge to do this.
December 11, 2019 - U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Freddy Torres, the chief instructor for Corporals Course 1-20, Headquarters and Service Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, carries a water jug during a physical training session on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. The PT session was designed to illustrate different tenets from the Marine Corps’ doctrine on the nature of war, including friction, uncertainty and complexity. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez)
Climbing exercises test more than the physical limits of an
individual: they reveal a mental fortitude that is passed down
through generations of Marines.
"Mentally, you accomplished
something that you thought you couldn't, or that you haven't in a
long time,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Freddy Torres,
battalion martial arts instructor trainer with Headquarters and
Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps
Base Camp Pendleton.
For Memorial Day, Torres
conducted the Murph Challenge in honor of Medal of Honor recipient
Lt. Michael P. Murphy. Murphy received the Medal of Honor for his
actions during Operation Red Wings on June 28, 2005.
Murph Challenge consists of a one-mile run followed by 100 pullups,
200 pushups, and 300 squats, finished off with another one-mile run.
For Torres, he thought integrating this challenge with a 13-mile
hike through the vast undeveloped land of Camp Pendleton would be an
appropriately difficult way to honor veterans for the holiday.
According to Torres, it was at the point where he thought to
himself, “I don’t think I can do this anymore,” that he knew he was
accomplishing something meaningful.
Camp Pendleton is one of
the last terrains untouched by human development in the greater Los
Angeles-San Diego area. This fact, coupled with the installation’s
sea-side real estate, makes for a unique hiking experience that is
difficult to match.
"Sometimes I go out in shorts, a hat, and
sunglasses to hike the hills in Horno. You can see the entire ocean
from up there," Torres said. "On top of Master Gunnery Sgt. Pede's
hill, you can see the entire air station and past that."
Having access to hiking trails is vital for a Marine's training.
Camp Pendleton encompasses 125,000 acres of Southern California
terrain. Within the land, Camp Pendleton offers many trails for all
military and civilian personnel to hike at their leisure. Many
Marines use the trails to prepare for environments they may face
"I love hiking. I think it is a great
full-body workout. It strengthens your core and your lower body,"
said Torres. "I love going on hikes with weight and going at a fast
pace to burn calories, build my cardiovascular stamina, and improve
The physical demands of a hike on Camp
Pendleton are high. This offers incredible training opportunities
for a force that requires endurance and strength in its members. It
also provides a mental conditioning aspect that one might not
typically consider. Spiritual fitness is one of the key aspects of
overall fitness, and spending time outdoors can aid in building a
good spiritual mindset, which in turn aids in mission readiness.
"It's important for Marines to be able to hike, to move with
weight. If we do not hike, then when it comes time, we will not be
ready for the next movement," stated Torres. "Hiking makes you
Due to its essential nature in combat
operations, hiking is ingrained into every Marine as not only an
obstacle one must tackle at bootcamp, but one that links those
currently serving to those that have served in the past. Many hiking
trails across base have memorials to remember the Marines that went
above and beyond the call of duty, such as First Sergeants Hill and
To pay tribute, many senior Marines will make the
trek to summit these hilltops with their junior Marines. In
November, Torres himself held his latest promotion ceremony on top
of First Sergeants Hill after a long, rigorous hike.
Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, we call them ‘Warrior Case
Studies,’” said Torres. "When we get to the top of any hike, I'll
sit the Marines down and talk to them about a warrior in our
history. By sharing those stories in the middle of a hike, it shows
how they had to be physically fit to do what they did."
times, the Camp Pendleton community and off-base communities come
together to memorialize service members of the past through hiking.
Such events are frequent both on and off the installation. Through
shared respect of those who lost their lives fighting for our
freedom, their memories live on.
Camp Pendleton has a rich
hiking culture wrapped in remembrance, physical fitness, and
spiritual fitness. During stressful times, many consider hiking a
way to relax. Treating oneself to the physical rigors of a hike, or
to the beautiful view once they have reached the top, is a simple
and affordable way to maintain physical fitness and mental
well-being while connecting with those who have gone before them.
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