Here’s a great new way to have an awesome adventure which provides great exercise as well as enjoyment and interaction with nature — hiking is one of the best activities to engage with pristine views, take a break from most technological interactions, and have an adequately beneficial workout. Be sure to be prepared though, in order to avoid having a miserable or dangerous experience. For those hitting the trails for the first time or refreshing your interaction with nature, be sure to adhere to these tips.
Know the fitness level, and don’t underestimate the elevation gain
Research your route in advance, and be honest with yourself about your fitness and skill level. Are you a beginner about to take on an intermediate-level trek? Sure, you’re an avid workout guru, but will your endurance and strength hold up when navigating tricky mountain trails? Starting out with easier trails is not just smarter safety-wise, but it will also make for a more enjoyable experience. When deciding on your upcoming adventure, note not just the distance but the elevation gain as well. A ten-mile hike may not seem so daunting, but add in 1,000 feet of steep climbing, and it’s a completely different story.
Set the alarm for an early rise
This tip is purely for the sake of practicality. Scheduling a hike for the morning ensures that the group will be able to tackle the trail at the desired pace without having to worry about sundown. On that note, always assume things will always take longer than planned. The trail conditions could be muddy or the terrain more difficult than expected. The group could get lost. Arriving at the trailhead in the morning is smart for these reasons, plus by starting before the sun is at its strongest, you’re minimizing chances of heat exhaustion.
Be sure to stay hydrated
Water bottles can be cumbersome and won’t carry enough water for a full day; consider a hydration bladder, which fits nicely into a backpack, stores enough water for your all-day hikes, and comes with a drinking tube, which eliminates the need to disengage your pack every time you need a sip. Plus, when empty, they fold up nice and compact.
Sunscreen is essential
It doesn’t matter if the temperature is cool or if the day is cloudy: slather that sunscreen on thick. Applying that SPF is a preventative measure that every hiker should take. Sunburns can be sneaky — especially when hiking high up in the mountains and closer to the sun. Establishing proper skin protection routines is one of the wisest moves a novice hiker can make. Remember to wear a hat that can help with a sweaty brow and cuts down on sunscreen running into the eyes; but also use a sunscreen stick specifically designed for the face. Depending on location, don’t forget bug repellent also.
Be sure you wear broken-in boots on the trail
Lacing up a brand new pair of boots on the morning of a planned hike is a bad idea, to say the least. You risk having your feet rubbed raw and blistered, and spending the latter half of the hike limping on sore feet is no way to enjoy your trek. You want to have put several miles on your footwear before beginning on the trail.
Accept the fate of your feet — get dirty
Often a newbie hiker wants to avoid muddy sections or carefully navigates stepping stones through a mountain stream. Go with proper footwear (and changes of shoes and socks if necessary) and get your feet dirty. When hiking — especially in sloppy conditions — messiness is a given. Trying to avoid a little mud or water is just going to make the experience tougher on yourself and other hikers in your group. Awesome tip: stash a pair of flip flops into your pack to slip into immediately after your trek.
Take photos of trail maps as you go
When you spot a map, snap a shot of it. Do this even if your group has done the hike before, and even when the path is obvious. Getting lost is a frustrating experience and can be dangerous. Navigational errors happen even to the most experienced — but especially to beginners. Snapping that quick photo takes two seconds, but it can be what saves the day later on. Also, take the photo on more than one phone, in case a battery dies (turn off phones while on the move also).
Being prepared for your commune with nature makes for an enjoyable adventure. We at Getaway Dreams Come True Travel can assist with tips for all kinds of travel experiences.
Photos by Dave Auchter
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