Hiking is a great way to explore the world while getting fit. But not everyone can start off ready to hike the Appalachian Trail. Most people need a starting point that eases them into new challenges. However, each individual experience is different. Once you determine your location and find out how to prepare, you’ll be well on your way to the happy trails that surround you.
Choose a location
The level of intensity is completely up to you. Ask yourself how long you’d like to hike and whether or not you’re ready for big hills or rough terrain. Determine your level of fitness and start off slow. Use trails.com to find a trail near you. All you have to do is enter your zip code to get started.
What to wear
Chances are that you already have some of the hiking gear you need, staring right at you from your closet. Especially when you’re first getting started, you’ll want to take a short hike near home. You probably won’t need an expensive pair of hiking boots or a brand name backpack right now. The key is comfort though. Wear what you’re most comfortable in.
Wear footwear that won’t give you blisters. Personally, I like to hike with a good pair of worn in running shoes with some thick socks. If you’re planning on hiking through the woods, wear pants. Always protect yourself against poison ivy and poison oak. It’s also wise to wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Don’t let a sunburn ruin your experience.
What to pack
If you plan on being out for a while, pack a backpack with the essentials. Make sure to pack enough water and snacks to keep you hydrated and energized throughout your journey. Pack some of Second Nature’s trail mix to curb your hunger with healthy protein.
For a day hike, you should bring at least four different types of healthy snacks and at least one meal item. Try a trail mix with some sugar in it to give you an extra boost of energy. I like to pack fresh fruit, jerky, trail mix and a sandwich. Also, don’t forget the water! Be sure to pack at least 100 ounces of water. If it’s a hot day, you might want to pack even more.
Pack a book for when you break for food. You never know when you might get tired along the way. This is a great time to sit back, relax and just enjoy nature.
For safety, carry a first aid kit. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You might also want to carry a signal whistle in case you find yourself in a bad situation. It’s always best to pack in case of emergency. Pack extra sunscreen and extra clothes just in case.
Hiking solo or with a group
A lot of people enjoy hiking alone. Some people even find the experience to be meditative or therapeutic. However, if you do travel solo, make sure you let someone close know where you’re going.
Hiking in a group has its advantages as well. If you’re not exactly sure where you’re going or if you’re afraid that something bad might happen on the trail, bring some friends along for support. It may help to put your mind at ease when you’re first starting out.
No matter what trail you choose or which items you pack, make sure it fits into what’s best for you. Take your time and enjoy the outdoors. It’s not every day you decide to take up hiking. Enjoy the moment while it lasts.