Hiking by yourself or with your friends and family can be one of the most fulfilling ways to explore nature. There are numerous trails to choose from scenic mountain views to forest parks. As a general rule, always contact the local government unit in the area that you plan to hike to ask which trails are available and safe for hiking.
For a beginner, hiking might seem like a daunting task, and there are many factors to consider. To figure out what you need, you must think about the hike’s distance, what weather the day will be during your walk, and how remote the hiking trail will be.
While several factors might need to think about, just remember why you’re hiking in the first place: to have fun and spend time with colleagues.
Before going on a hike, it’s great to exercise for at least three weeks to a full month to give your body time to adjust, which means that it is time to join your local gym and go for a run on dirt trails on the weekend. Conditioning your body doesn’t mean that you have to train like an Olympic gold medalist aiming for their next victory unless you’re planning hiking trails like the ones in Mt. Everest or the Inca Trail.
The best way to start your conditioning is by doing aerobic and cardiovascular activities. The best exercises to do to prepare is by cycling, running, brisk walking, or swimming. Studies show that 150 minutes of any of these activities can increase your overall health and stamina.
Practice hikes are also necessary if you want your body to acclimate to carrying a heavy pack. Start by going for a walk with half of the equipment you plan to bring and slowly add more items once you feel confident enough. You don’t want to surprise your body by suddenly carrying a full load on the trail; this can lead to a very short and very unpleasant hike.
Now that you have conditioned your body, another factor to consider is what equipment to wear and bring along the hike.
These things can vary from trail to trail, but it’s always a great idea to bring the following items below because this equipment can be used in almost any hiking situation.
- Hiking appropriate clothing
- Hiking footwear
- Navigation tools (Map and compass)
- Paracords in bulk
- Sun protection
- First aid kits
- Firestarter (Matches or lighters)
- Emergency shelter
- Knife or Multi-tool
- Gear-repair kit (Zip ties, duct tape, etc.)
- Hiking backpack
These items can significantly make your hiking adventures easier. Be sure to research how to use these items, carrying these on a long trail without learning how to use them can turn them from being useful items to dead weight.
Hike with a Friend
If you have friends who are avid fans of hiking, it’s great to ask them to take you on a trail. More often than not, that friend already has a trip in mind that might be perfect for you.
But if you do not know any friends or family who hike, it’s a good idea to look up walking clubs; these hiking clubs often plan out hikes months in advance; this is a great way to look for hiking partners or groups.
Hiking with a friend or partner comes with many advantages, the most prominent being that it’s safer together, this is especially true when going on a trek with a hiking group. There is strength in numbers, after all.
Many outing organizations recommend that hiking in groups of four people is the safest choice. In case of an injury, one of your hiking partners, one member of the group, can stay with the injured member while the other two backtracks to find help.
Clean as you go
Now that you’ve found a hiking group and are physically prepared and equipped yourself, there’s another factor to consider, probably the most important one. Never leave any trash behind. Hiking is a way for individuals to enjoy nature; the last thing you want to see on your trail is a Walmart plastic bag hanging off a branch.
Remember: a clean trail is a safe trail.
Hiking can be one of the best and memorable trips to take on your vacation. A successful hike will leave you feeling confident and renewed. Always remember to prioritize safety for you and your companions first before anything else. To quote a great hiker, “Getting to the summit is optional, but getting down is mandatory.”