- Don't travel alone. There is truth to the old adage about safety in numbers. If you hike with a partner, there is someone to help should you become injured, ill or if you become lost. It just makes good sense to have a friend along for the hike PLUS it will make it a more fun experience.
- Know where you are going. Maps and field guides are essential when hiking in a place that you have never visited before. Most state and national parks have a headquarter office where you can pickup a map on the way into the park. Take a few minutes before you begin your hike to do some map reading to familiarize yourself with the location.
- Take basic gear. A few essential items to have in your backpack are matches (preferably waterproof) or a lighter, a knife or multipurpose tool (like a Swiss Army knife), first aid kit, flashlight, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, a hat, a rain poncho, extra clothing and an extra pair of socks. I personally take along some emergency blankets (you've seen them - they look like giant pieces of tinfoil). A cell phone or GPS is also good to take along.
- Take basic provisions. Water, water, water. In case you didn't get that, take water with you. The last thing you want is to get dehydrated while out on the trail. You will want to pack foods that won't spoil. Things like dried fruit, granola, trail mix, crackers or pretzels, peanut butter, jerky, tuna (in vacuum packed pouches, not the canned stuff), carrots, apples, bananas and cheese sticks are all good options.
- Always carry out what you carry in. Take an extra plastic bag with you so that you can put trash in your pack. The last thing you want to do is litter the beautiful trail you are on. Keep your trash with you and dispose of it properly when you return to the headquarters.
- Pace yourself especially if it's your first hike. You will be eager to take in the views along your hiking route but you should guard against using all of your energy early into your hike. It's always good to take things slow and conserve energy because you don't know what you are going to encounter along the trail (you might need to run from a ferocious squirrel!!). Let the slowest person in your group be the lead hiker and set the pace. Keeping the slower hiker in front helps in terms of keeping your hiking group safe and to ensure that no one gets left behind. Be sure to take breaks as needed.
- Exercise common sense. If you don't know what it is - don't eat it. If you don't know what kind of animal or insect it is or whether or not it's poisonous- don't touch it. If you are tired - stop and rest. If you are hungry or thirsty - eat or drink a little. Think before you act and you will be fine.
- ENJOY!!!!! There are very few things that are quite as awe-inspiring as getting back to nature and realizing what a great place we are fortunate enough to call home. Take in a deep breath of fresh air and enjoy the wide open spaces.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Take a Hike!
This is such a beautiful time of year and in most parts of the country, the weather is perfect for some outdoor fun and activities. Why not take a hike? There are lots of state and national parks that are just waiting to be explored. What? Never been hiking, you say? Well then, let me give you some basic pointers because, even though it may seem that you are simply walking outdoors on a trail, there are a few pieces of knowledge that will make the experience so much more enjoyable and safer.