Nothing is more exhilarating then spend a day enjoying the great outdoors. If you are new to hiking, however, you may experience some hiccups along the way that could take away from your experience. Keep reading to learn about stretching, staying hydrated, and other simple tips to ensure a safe and comfortable hike, every time.
Tip #1: Travel Light
Especially if you are new hiking, it’s best to travel as light as you possibly can – your pack is going to feel heavier as the day goes on. When packing, make sure that the heaviest items you carry are food and water. This means that you’ll shed some weight as you move along the trail. Don’t forgo essentials like sunscreen, a flashlight, and other necessities but don’t pack more than you need.
Tip #2: Stretch it Out
Before hitting the trail for the day, it’s a good idea to do some stretching. Even if you don’t feel like you’re expending a lot of extra energy or working your muscles any more than usual, the stress of an all-day hike can leave you feeling sore sooner rather than later if you don’t stretch first.
Tip #3: Find Your Speed
As you set out on your hike, you should find a speed that is comfortable and sustainable. It’s easy to get excited when you are first starting out for the day, but you’ll tire more quickly if you go too fast. Generally, if you are able to walk and talk at the same time without gasping for breath, you’re moving at a good speed. It might seem like you’re walking slow at times, but you’ll feel much better at the end of your hike if you take your time at the beginning.
Tip #4: Take a Break
Even if you don’t feel tired, it’s a good idea to take a 5- or 10-minute break at least once every hour. Make sure you sit down during each break too so the accumulated lactic acid in your legs has some time to drain. Take advantage of your breaks to enjoy the scenery and to follow the next tip.
Tip #5: Eat and Drink
During each break, you should have a small snack and drink some water, even if you aren’t feeling hungry or thirsty. Plan to eat about twice as much during your hike as you would eat on a normal day, focusing on natural foods that are rich in energy like dried fruit, nuts, and the like. You should include some salty snacks and plenty of water in your pack for the hike so you can fuel up along the way.
Tip #6: Pay Attention to Time
When you’re enjoying a hike, it can be easy to lose track of time but if you fail to plan for your trip back, you could end up hiking back in the dark. The best rule of thumb to follow is to plan to take twice as long on the trip back as you took on the trip up – that means allotting 1/3 of your time to ascending and 2/3 to descending. And bring a flashlight with you, just in case you miscalculate.
As simple as they may seem, following these tips can make the difference between a comfortable and enjoyable hike or a hike that leaves you feeling exhausted and sore, unable to enjoy the experience.