Carrying all that you need on your person and just walking through nature is an addictive experience. No wonder so many people across the world go hiking so regularly. Though hiking conjures images of walking for miles along the trail, regular hikers know how important it is to be well-prepared before starting on a hike. There can be several problems that you could come across when on a hike. Being prepared makes sure you have a great hiking experience and maybe even a few good stories to share when you get back. Use these 10 tips on your next hiking trip so that you have the best hike ever.
1. Tell People Where You’re Going
While the notion of getting lost in the woods might sound romantic, you don’t actually want to be lost on your trail. As a safety precaution, always tell someone where you plan to go and the trail you’re going to take. Sharing a detailed itinerary of your hiking trip can help people track you down in the event you get lost or get into an accident.
2. Choose The Right Hike
This is the first rule of hiking, especially if you’re not a regular hiker. If you can’t walk for 10 miles, choosing a 10-mile hike will leave you too exhausted to enjoy the experience. Distance is one factor but also consider other factors like what time of the year it is and the altitude. If you’re going to hike in a place that’s much warmer, you’ll need some time to get used to the temperature. If you want to challenge yourself with a new or more difficult trail, go with a group that’s done the trail before. Navigating through the trail then becomes a little easier.
3. Layer Up For Protection
Walking into nature is a beautiful experience but it comes with its own set of challenges. Even if your hiking trail is shaded by a canopy of trees, you will still be exposed to sunlight, and then there are the bugs that just won’t leave you alone. Prepare yourself for both by first applying bug repellent and then sunscreen over it. That way you can always apply sunscreen again when you need it. Wear long sleeves and pants with adjustable lengths. It’s also recommended that you dress in layers and start with a short-sleeved base layer made from wicking fabric to keep you dry.
4. Wear The Right Shoes
Whether you hike just twice a year or more frequently, invest in a pair of good quality hiking shoes. These are tough shoes and will last you a long time. If you’re going on long hikes with heavy backpacks, look for shoes with good cushioning. Hiking boots also come with high-grip soles that prevent you from slipping on wet surfaces and rocks. Wearing shoes that cover your ankles can prevent your foot from twisting when you’re negotiating through rock scrambles. In other words, shoes are an important part of your hiking gear and worth investing in.
5. Pack A Snack And Enough Water
Hiking can sap your energy without you even knowing it. High-altitude hikes tend to kill your appetite but make sure you eat something to maintain your energy. Also, carry a snack like an energy bar that will give you a quick boost of energy. And always drink water in small sips throughout the trail, even when you’re not thirsty. The idea is to not allow your body to be thirsty. Carry your own water since you can’t always trust the water that you get along the trail.
6. Pace Yourself
It’s always good to know your pace. At a pace of about 1.5 miles an hour, you’ll need about 4-5 hours for a 6-mile hike. You will also have to consider the time for hiking back to your camp. That’s a total of 10 hours. If you’re a new hiker, you can ask experienced hikers how much time it would take a beginner to cover the trail. Start early in the morning so that you have enough time to get back before the sun sets. Always factor in extra time so that you can stop once in while to enjoy the view and take a few pictures. Also, keep the weather change in mind. When you start your hike at 6 a.m., it might be cool and pleasant. However, as the afternoon approaches, it could become unbearably hot. So dress accordingly.
7. Keep Those Outdoor Apps Handy
Yes, hiking is all about reconnecting with nature and yourself but also be ready to make use of technology when it’s needed. You may not be able to use your phone to make emergency calls because of bad service but you can use it to do all sorts of things like taking photos, recording bird calls, or even voice logging your experience. You can also use GPS tracking apps to track your location and give location updates to loved ones back home.
8. Learn The Rule Of Threes
The rule of three is an established code for seeking help. It could be 3 whistle blows, 3 pieces of clothing or three marks on a tree. Park rangers know to look for these signs and will know that you need help if you have put these signs out. Another handy object you can carry with you if you’re hiking above the tree line is a signal mirror. Three mirror flashes will let an overhead aircraft note your coordinates and send for help.
9. Practice Trail Etiquette
Although you might be tempted to go off the trail and explore on your own, it’s a good practice to stick to the trail. There’s a higher chance of getting ticks if you go off the trail. Always be polite to other people on the trail and if the trail is narrow, the person hiking uphill has the right of way. That’s the unsaid rule. So if the hiker going uphill approaches you head-on, stop, step to the side, and let him or her pass.
10. Use Hiking Poles
Using hiking poles has nothing to do with whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned hiker. It’s just a simple and practical piece of equipment that can make things easier for you on your hike. Poles can slow down your momentum as you go downhill and serve as a support on the way up. They also help shift some pressure off your knees allowing you to walk for longer distances. However, make sure you use two poles as using a single pole can affect your back over time.