By Ilan Stein
Hiking trails, one of man's most painstakingly underrated and overlooked innovations. Paved directly into the heart of some of the most captivating and breathtaking environments on Earth, hiking trails serve as both a physical and spiritual escape from the more problematic aspects of our often stressful lives. Whether it be a much needed getaway from school, work, or any other hassles you have to deal with, these trails will always be there for you and your enjoyment.
Now, when it comes to actually setting out on the trail it isn’t as easy as one may think. While for your easier trails you might be able to get away with simply putting on your favorite pair of sneakers and setting out to wander aimlessly, I can promise you the tougher trails will not be nearly as forgiving. So, whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman who wants to take on a challenge, or just setting out in this brand new world, here are some essential Do’s and Don’ts of Hiking.
Do: Proper Preparation. As much as a simple google search can greatly help you with your epic quest in the wilderness. Understanding the length of the trail, how long it will take you approximately, and bringing the necessary items are all musts. Bring sturdy hiking shoes as well as a backpack for a water bottle, medical supplies just in case, and some snacks for when the outdoors give you that pang of hunger. If you do these things, you’re one step closer to being a pro!
Don’t: Overestimate your Abilities. This also relates back to our last point of preparation. Understanding yourself as well as the length/difficulty of the trail is especially important while gauging if you will be able to successfully complete the challenge you put yourself up to. You know yourself and your limits better than anybody, so if you think the trail will be too arduous, difficult, or lengthy, search for other options and slowly build up the ability to complete harder and harder courses. Talking to others who have also completed said trail can be a helpful resource for understanding if it is a good choice for you as well.
Do: Go in a group! Things are always more fun when you’re with friends. Bringing other able-bodied hikers to come along with you on your more difficult hiking excursions can be not only a fun, but helpful way of accomplishing your goals as bringing experienced hikers can introduce valuable insight and experience that you may have not known that you would need. All in all, it is never a bad idea to bring along other avid hikers. As they say, the more the merrier!
Don’t: Lose Awareness of your surroundings. Especially in some of the more challenging trails, you can find the terrain to often be difficult or unfriendly when hiking. Paying attention to the intended route and never losing track of where exactly you are is an important aspect of these adventures. While some trails make it exceedingly obvious where to go and where you are, some may be confusing and require you to input just a little more effort to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. The last thing you want is to be lost in an expansive wooded forest with no sign of civilization near! Another reason to be truly aware of your surroundings is to not injure yourself in any way as well. For example, making sure to place your feet in sturdy places while scaling rocky terrain so as to not slip. Safety is a #1 priority, so make sure to take care of yourself.
So there you have it! Those are just some of the things that you can make sure to do the next time you’re taking on your next hiking challenge, whether it be with us at Natural Highways or others. Remember, hiking is for your health, your enjoyment and your happiness, so please, have fun! Much luck on your future endeavors out in the wilderness, and I hope you take some of these messages to heart. Happy Hiking!