Hiking is one of those wonderful activities that you can do virtually anywhere, regardless of your fitness level. You can do it by yourself or with others, and even alongside your family members -- children included -- if you want to. There’s a ton of flexibility inherent to hiking, and I think that’s part of what makes hiking so appealing and so accessible to such a broad swath of people. Below, I’ll go into more detail to describe some tips for novice hikers, for those of us who are just getting started in this sport or for those of us who are returning to it after a lot of time away. It’s my hope that these tips will help prepare you to get out there and enjoy Mother Nature’s finest in no time!
Some tips for novice hikers include the following:
Do your research. Sure, there is definitely something to be said for just putting on your shoes and going right out there, jumping headfirst into a new adventure. That said, most of us do better with a little planning under our belts. Consider if you want to stay local and go on some type of hike near home. Conversely, perhaps you want to plan a hike farther out in the future, maybe something more challenging. Maybe you want to dream very big and do a hike that would necessitate an overnight stay, camping, and multi-stage adventuring? You have a ton of options; the world really is your oyster! That said, it can be really helpful to first know what your options are and then begin to whittle them down accordingly.
Train for it, both your body and your mind. Particularly if you are planning a multiple-day-long hike, it’ll behoove you to do a good amount of training and preparation in advance of The Big Day. You’ll want to develop some type of training plan -- or work with a hiking coach -- so you can both literally and figuratively callus your body and mind to being on your feet for several hours at a time. Training for your big hiking adventure will also give you many opportunities to try out any gear that you have that you’re planning on bringing. Doing so will allow you to know prior to your Big Day exactly which equipment works best for you and your body. Going out for long training hikes will also help you develop mental conditioning and mental strength. Solid mental conditioning and strength will be super helpful to you when you think that the going is getting too tough on your Big Day. In other words, your mental strength may very well save the day and help you persevere through the finish.
Get connected with your local hiking community. Very few of us are ever experts in something that we’ve never done before. With that in mind, it stands to reason that we benefit tremendously from learning from others’ collective experiences and knowledge. For you, as you’re beginning your hiking adventures, get connected with your local hiking community. Your local community will be able to offer you tons of support and knowledge. In addition, they may also help you make decisions about your hiking aspirations -- both in the immediate and long-term future. Don’t worry about being annoying or overbearing, either. Everyone was the new guy once and didn’t know anything. Soon, you’ll be able to pay the favor forward and will be able to help out the next new person who doesn’t know a thing. (Yes, that day will come!)
Use sunscreen! Arguably the most important thing you can do as a novice hiker is to wear sunscreen. So many of us fail to apply sunscreen, even though most of us are outside on any given day. Consequently, our risk for skin cancer and sunburns skyrockets significantly. There are seemingly hundreds of types of sunscreen options on the market, fortunately. Ultimately, it’s just a matter of finding one with UVA and UVB protection that you like. Many people will also opt to wear some type of hat and sunglasses as well, to help mitigate the burn risk. Minimally, lather up! Your skin five, ten, and forty years from now will thank you.
Once you get the basics down of hiking, it’ll be like the whole world is opening up to you. Suddenly destinations that weren’t accessible by car are now options to you since you’ll be able to traverse them on your own two feet. It’ll be as if you’re seeing the world through a different light. There is something so deeply empowering about hiking. Additionally, the sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have literally traveled the world on your own accord is unbeatable. No one can take that sense of pride and ownership away from you.
GUEST AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
A vegan and a professional triathlete. Making at the crossroads of minimalism and purpose to give life to your brand. She also writes reviews and recommendations on Runnerclick, ThatSweetGift, TheGearHunt and GearWeAre.