Hiking is a healthy activity for both the body and mind.
Hiking trails for all levels of expertise are found in every country. It is truly a global pastime, enjoyed by individuals, friends, hiking clubs, and families.
Some level of hiking is possible for everyone who can walk, making it the perfect hobby for every age, as well as for groups and families of mixed ages.
To experience a safe and enjoyable hiking experience, it’s important to know the basic “rules” of hiking.
Picking The Trail
There are hiking trails everywhere.
Some trails are difficult and only for experienced hikers, but many are easy hikes that don’t contain steep inclines or require climbing over rocks.
Contact your local Chamber of Commerce, in the USA or abroad, for brochures and maps of hiking trails in your area.
Many state parks have hiking trails, perfect for day trips, family hikes, or overnight camping. Some trails are designed to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers.
If you live in a state full of woods and mountains or live where you are surrounded by blacktop and high rise office buildings, there are trails nearby where you can enjoy hiking.
Whether you pick a gentle trail or a challenging trail, it’s important to learn to pace yourself.
Develop a rhythm (cadence) that is comfortable and allows you to go a considerable distance without feeling strained or needing a break. As your endurance builds, hiking will tire you less. Plan short breaks at specific intervals.
When you are a new hiker, plan a ten-minute break for every 20 minutes of hiking. As your body conditions itself, you can increase the length of time between breaks.
It’s necessary to have the proper hiking gear to avoid as many problems as possible.
Top on the list of gear is the right hiking shoe, and the right sock.
To avoid the hiker’s nemesis, the blister, wear properly fitted shoes and break them in before embarking on a hike. If you are wearing leather shoes, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, which can mean rubbing with saddle soap or mink oil, and sometimes a specific brand of boot treatment is suggested.
Regular care will keep your boots pliable, prevent them from drying out, and be kind to your feet. Cotton is not the best material for your boot sock liners.
Purchase specially designed liners made from a wicking material such as polypropylene or Thermax and wear a good wool sock. Always carry moleskin to apply in the event a blister starts to form.
Food And Water
Because food is your body’s fuel, it’s especially important to plan your food carefully for the length of your hike.
For day hikes, dried fruit and nuts, pre-packaged instant oatmeal, and instant noodle and pasta dishes can meet the need. Water is required to keep the body hydrated, but water is also heavy.
You can probably carry enough for a day hike, but if you plan to do longer hikes, purchase a water filtration system to purify water from lakes and streams and carry an insulated water bottle to keep your drinking water cool in warm weather.
Safety And First Aid
A first aid kit and manual are important for even the simplest hike.
Many outfitters have first aid kits you can purchase containing most of the supplies needed for minor injuries. You can also build your own first aid kit.
The Washington Trails Association website offers excellent instructions on building a hiker’s first aid kit in the hiking resources and hiking basics section at www.wta.org.
Hiking is a great way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, while staying healthy and fit.
Remember to plan your hike carefully and bring sufficient food and water to enjoy a fun-filled hike.
When you’re ready to got further, you may want to use hiking poles to keep your energy levels up, see reviews of walking poles for hiking here.