Everyone has their own definition of hiking. Every site or book that informs you of hikes available for whatever location your researching has a difficulty level. Which is great for a reference but I have learned that for the most part, these levels of difficulty are to be taken lightly. The more you research and take note of these and then actually go out and do them, the more you’ll be able to judge and re-calculate to your idea of a hard, moderate, and easy hike listed on your searches.
It would be tough to rate something like that because it all depends on physical fitness really. Someone who is fit will be able to complete a “hard” hike much more easily than someone who is more used to a flat walk on pavement and isn’t really all that fit. That’s a no-brainer!
They probably will feel like they’re going to die. Sometimes you get one labeled with an “easy” and it ends up being more of a moderate in your book. Once in a while you get a moderate or hard that really should’ve been knocked down a level.
Regardless of difficulty, these are really just about being outdoors, in the wilderness, being one with nature and all that. I’m going to go through some tips on hiking, tips to make it easier on yourself, and some common knowledge type stuff that may need reminding of.
- Research – Like I said previously, do a little research so you know what you’re getting yourself into. It may require certain gear to complete or to make it safer. It’s another reason I like to research especially If I’m traveling a long way from home. You may read that there’s little shade. So maybe protecting yourself from the sun might need a little more, like a big floppy hat.
- Gear up! – Depending on how serious you are about hiking and the types of hiking you like to do, you’ll need the right gear. Good hiking shoes are a must no matter what. They need to be comfy, yet supportive and durable. Sometimes I wish you could take the shoes out for a hike before you buy to really be able to tell if you like them or not. A good lightweight backpack is also another item you may need depending on how long you’ll be on the hike. If you can get one with a section for cold items and water bottle pockets on the outside, I’d call it an all around good one. Some people like using hiking poles to help them up rough terrain. That’s great for when you need them, but think about what you’ll do with them when you don’t. Especially if you’re not taking a backpack. Just sayin!
- Dress appropriately – This is more of a supplement to gearing up but I feel it’s important. Of course you should dress according to the weather your hike is at but I believe you really can’t go wrong if you dress in layers. Like a tank top, light loose shirt, jacket or hoodie depending on how cold it is. As far as pants go, light breathable pants in the warmer months and maybe some thicker or possibly denim when it’s colder. Thermal underclothes are smart when it’s really cold, and underwear are a big deal too. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on a hike and my underwear were riding up in all the wrong places! Making me stop to adjust way too often. Get some good socks and good hiking shoes and a couple comfortable hats.
- What to pack or take with you – Decide how long you’ll be gone. How long you’ll be hiking and whether or not to take a meal and snacks. This is entirely up to you, but you should always take plenty of water with you and also on your hike and some to spare. Take your phone and your camera, or just your phone if that’s what you use for photos. Take a GPS device if you have one, especially if you’re planning on finding a geocache on your hike. You’ll need sunblock for re-applying and maybe some hand wipes for cleaning your hands especially if your planning on eating.
- Be aware of your surroundings – Maybe in your research before hand you find out about animals, plants and things native to the area to avoid or look out for that might be a danger to you or for you to know about so you don’t disturb the environment. Looking out for rattlesnakes, scorpions, mountain lions, bears, badgers, skunks and not stepping on cryptobiotic crusts, are some examples of things in Utah we need to usually, but not always keep in mind when hiking. Not to mention keeping yourself out of wasp nests and the like, especially if you’re allergic. There are also some plants to look out for like poison ivy and stinging nettle, but just a quick search of harmful plants in the area to be hiked should provide you with more than enough info on what to look out for. Additionally, I know you want to look around at the gorgeous nature around you, but look where you’re walking. You don’t want to put your foot into a badger or prairie dog hole and hurt yourself do you? I once peed on a ground wasp nest and luckily didn’t even realize it until I was finished!
Always remember to respect your environment and never leave anything behind.
Take all of your trash with you, don’t disturb the animals, and never vandalize anything.
These things are harmful to nature and ruin the experience for the rest of us.
Just be careful, be mindful, and remember on every hike you take, enjoy it completely!
After all, that’s what it’s really about right?