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Critical Elements to Prepare for a Successful Hike

By Edited Jun 11, 2015 0 1

Hiking is an outstanding summertime activity that allows you to enjoy the outdoors and exercise.  This could be as simple as walking outside your house into a forest or as complex as hiking Mt Rainer in Washington State.  Below you will find information to help prepare you to…prepare for, your hike.  Keep reading to learn more about the critical elements to prepare for your hike.

Physical Condition

The first thing you must do is match the hike to your physical abilities.  Kind of like Little Red Riding Hood’s porridge, it can’t be too easy or too hard; otherwise you will not enjoy it.  So take a hard look at your physical abilities and match them up to the hike you want to do.  To be safe, err on the side of easy because it’s better to be bored than stuck in the woods along insects and critters!

 Shoes

Wearing the correct shoes is key to many activities in life (I am not sure talking about the world of fashion!) and this fact becomes amplified during a hike.  Make sure that your shoes fit, offer support, comfort and are conducive to the chosen hike. 

Level of Difficulty

As mentioned above, choosing the right hike is key to having a successful hike.   Most organized hikes have a level of difficulty associated to them with a guide to help you understand how you need to be to complete the hike safely.  As a general, but not standardized guide, but think of level 1 as the easiest and 5 as the hardest.  Level 1 hikes normally take around an hour to complete and level 5 hikes normally take 4-5 hours to complete and are for experienced hikers in great shape.

Maps

Your iPhone may not work in the woods!!! – bring a map and bring a back up.  Prior to departing review and analyze the terrain, know what the markings mean and mentally walk through the hike with the map.  Check the date on your map, the terrain can change drastically over time – make sure your map is up to date.  Also, pay special attention to distances because a 2D map cannot account for the varying features of a 3D world.  These distances may change from one season to the next if there is significant snow or/and rain.

Weather

Do not take a warm sunny day for granted!  Depending on where you are, the weather can change very, very quickly.  Your two-hour hike could turn into six if the weather changes for the worse.  If your hike is in a park, check with the park rangers to learn about the area and the weather to see how this will affect you hike.  Bottom line, take two minutes to check the weather forecast before hiking!

Equipment

Every pound you carry equals more energy exerted.  To hike comfortably the general rule is to carry 1/5 of your body weight, although physically fit hikers can carry 1/3 of their body weight.  Nowadays, there are some very, very ultra light backpacks and hiking gear so, do your research and find one that works for you.   What you pack depends on what you are doing; again, the level of difficulty and duration of the hike, will be two decisive factors for what you bring.

Food

High protein and dehydrated foods are excellent choices when hiking.  In addition what are some other good foods to bring?  Among the recommended types of food to take when hiking you can find crackers, cheese, energy bars, granola bars and if you are craving a sandwich, go with a peanut butter and jelly one that travels well and has a great taste.

Safety

Remember to plan for your safety while out in the woods.  Bring LOTS of sunscreen(!), especially if you are prone to burning.  Hours in the sun will cause painful and dangerous burning and blisters.  Also, bring lots of water, moleskin to prevent blisters on your feet and a good first aid kit.

Single Man Hiking in the Mountains
Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-hiking-in-cordilleras-rimagefree1529266-resi2966040
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