Ready, Get Set, Hike!

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Wellness in 10: Ready, Get Set, Hike!: 10 ways to get ready for a summer outing.

Posted By NWI, Sunday, June 01, 2014

Hiking has many benefits as a physical activity. Not only can hikers select a trail and distance based on their physical activity level, but often hiking trails are free to the public or require a minimal access cost. Plus, hiking is a great activity to share with friends and family! That said, below are 10 tips to follow to make sure your hike is incident-free!

1. Have a plan for the route. Before going on the hike, research trails on the Internet or through a local guide book. You might search for local, state, and national parks in your region to get an idea of where you want to go and what trails are available.

2. Have a plan for supplies. If you are going on a hiking trip for several days or just for a few hours, you will want to plan your supplies in advance. From water and snacks to sunscreen and tents, there are many possible things to pack. While water and a map should top your list, you might also use the following as a checklist for other items to bring: http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpacking-checklist.html.

3. Think about comfort. Layer clothing. Wear breathable fabrics. Break in your hiking shoes before the hike. Bring sunglasses and or a hat. Use sun protection. If you bring a bag to carry (or backpack) make sure its weight is distributed evenly so you don’t end up with aches on one side of your body.

4. Have a plan, just in case. Even if you are going with a group, it is always good if someone (not with you) knows your route and your plans. If possible, check in with the Ranger Station or Welcome Center (some parks even require you to check in.).

5. Once you arrive at the hiking spot, check in with the visitor center or Ranger Station (if available) to see if additional maps are available or if there are any additional precautions you might want to take (avoiding closed trails, bears, etc.)

6. Pay attention to what’s around you. Not only should you pay attention to important signs like, “Cliff, steep drop-off,” but also you will want to slow down and pay attention to the beautiful nature around you. Investing in a guidebook of local flora and fauna might enrich your hiking experience.

7. Stay on the trail. Remember, you are hiking to observe nature and although there may seem to be good nature off of the trail, the trails make sure the human footprint is limited.

8. Leave no trace. Not only is it important to take your trash with you, but also if you see trash (even if it isn’t yours), pick it up. Enjoying nature is about leaving the environment better than we found it. For more ideas on preserving nature visit: Leave No Trace (the organization) at https://lnt.org/

9. Go responsibly. With all of the water and trail mix you are consuming…you might have to “Go.” To poop, dig a “cathole” 6-8 inches deep, away from streams, rivers, or other water sources that could get polluted. Do your thing, and then cover it up. Take toilet paper with you as trash. Here is a site that goes into more detail: http://amountaintophigh.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-poop-in-woods.html

10. Have fun!

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