Meandering along a mountain trail offers you so many benefits in life. The types of benefits do vary from person to person, but heading into the park or back country for most is adventurous and exciting. Whether it’s finding that hidden waterfall you heard about, or trekking above the sub alpine to that breathtaking view, or even a couple of laps on the city park trail with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
Things you need when hiking in any situation are important. In this article I will cover some items and scenarios that some people might either forget, or don’t consider, before heading out on a hike. After all, I believe that being prepared is necessary in order to stay safe and ensure an enjoyable hike when heading out.
The need to know
First and foremost when it comes to any kind of exercise or strenuous activity, knowing your limits is key. Whether it’s how much you can lift or how long you can walk. That couldn’t be more true with hiking. Knowing your ability should always be considered when facing the known or unknown.
Which brings me to my second point. Knowing the area you’re exploring is quite important, especially if it’s your first time there. Be sure to study your map or look up info on the web for the area. Word of mouth is generally a good way to find out all you can about a trail or region.
Third, something that should never be overlooked is the weather. Obviously most people like to know what the current weather forecast is for the day. However, always be sure to check what lies ahead for the coming days and prepare accordingly. Also, you should consider what the weather has been for a few days prior. This may determine the conditions you might experience when out on the trail, such as mud, higher water levels, or extremely dry conditions.
The need to have
One of the most important things in life is getting enough rest. Being well rested is a key factor to being healthy and energized to allow you to fully enjoy the wonderful things life has to offer.
With good rest comes that happy feeling. This gives you the right attitude to face whatever challenge you set out for yourself. It also energizes you to tackle the mountain of life with purpose and excitement.
Experiencing that journey while your blazing through the forest is so much better with a friend or loved one. We all know how important it is to make connections with people. Whether it’s with one person or a group that shares the beauty of nature together. So add to the fun and bring along a friend or two.
The need to have it on you
When it comes to going on hikes, and wearing quality gear, I like to ensure that I start from the bottom and work my way up. A good pair of boots is essential to ensure you maximize comfort and stability when hiking. Be sure that with any new pair of boots they have a proper fit, which includes room for insoles if your feet require them.
An excellent strategy to break them in properly before spending all day in them is taking short walks at first and gradually increasing time spent in them. Also, during that break-in time gradually increase the terrain difficulty to ensure your feet don’t get blisters and/or fatigued on longer hikes.
Proper socks can also help maintain long-lasting comfort. I advise that when you go to purchase new boots, bring an extra pair of socks. Light wool or an old pair of sport socks as an added layer over a good pair of sport socks in my experience works best. The second set of socks reduces friction thus reducing the chance of blisters, or their severity.
The use of trekking poles or hiking sticks is optional. These devices can be quite useful for maintaining a good rhythm when walking. They also improve balance when crossing streams or over rough terrain, as well as reducing the strain on knees when traveling downhill. This is especially true when carrying a backpack.
To be sure trekking poles are the right length stand up straight with the bottom of the poles about 15 to 20 centimeters in front and to the side of your feet, while holding the poles your arms should be bent at least 90 to 95 degrees. For a hiking stick or pole you should hold it with your dominant hand. Hiking sticks or poles are generally longer giving you the ability to adjust your hand height for moving up and down difficult terrain.
When you need that backpack
Backpacks are one of those things that are so common and useful for hiking or everyday use. A good backpack should be used every chance you get. When choosing one, it should depend on where your going and what your doing. If it’s hiking it will carry all the necessities to sustain your survival. Along with food and water you should carry extra clothes and a first aid kit, even if it’s just a one or two hour hike.
Having a properly fitted backpack is also quite important. Some of the key aspects to consider are torso length. Be sure when fitting your pack that it doesn’t sit too low on your back. On your lower back on either side of your spine are two bumps that circle around to your side which is the top of your hip bones, known as the iliac crest. The majority of the weight should be sitting at the top of that area, and evenly distributed up to the top of your shoulder blades.
The straps on your waist belt should be snug, with the shoulder straps tightened so that some of the weight is lifted off your hips. The strap in the center of your chest should also be snug enough to evenly distribute pressure from the shoulders. Adjust them accordingly until you find that sweet spot.
When you need to go
All in all the need for us to go out for a hike varies greatly. Whatever reason you have to venture out it’s imperative you make a plan. Not only should you plan where you’re going, how long you plan to be, and when your getting back, but you should also consider what to do in the event of an emergency or unforeseen circumstance. One of the best ways to prepare for anything is to communicate to others what your intentions are before you head out into the wilderness.
So put your best boots on and find your path!