Take a Hike! Tips on Being Prepared for an Adventure

To me, there is nothing more replenishing and fulfilling than getting out in the great outdoors. I know that it’s not for everyone, but I personally feel connected to myself and to the world when I’m out in the trees, climbing rocks, or on a mountain top. We get so caught up in technology and the fast pace of day-to-day life, we forget to connect with our Earth Mother. When was the last time you really were outside and took in your surroundings? When you stop and take this beauty in, time expands itself to you.

If you are up for some traveling on foot to witness this beauty or to maybe do some quiet contemplation, (whether it’s a day hike or a camping adventure), I have some valuable advice for you, coming from years of experience.

Don’t over-pack. (says the girl who used to like to bring 2 huge suitcases for a 5 day trip) Think minimalism. Nothing worse than having to dig through a ton of stuff or being in a position where you have to carry 100 pounds of gear on your back for mile after mile. Special note: do however, pack extra socks and underwear. They don’t take up much space and you’ll never know when you need them, just trust me on this.

Invest in good hiking shoes. If you skimp on this, you’ll regret it and end up with shin splints and wicked blisters. I prefer Merrell hiking boots. Depending on the type of hiking or climbing you are doing, you may want to select different types of shoes. For hiking that involves smooth trails but where you’ll need to climb some rocks, I recommend Vibram toe shoes. It really helps to use your feet to grip on the rocks. Sometimes I’ll go barefoot, depending on the type of terrain. Also invest in closed-toed water shoes for river hikes. You never know when you might discover a place where you can dive right in. Hiking boots are definitely not ideal in water situations. You’ll need something that has grip on it but flexible enough to handle the slippery rocks & moss on the bottom.

Me being a nature nerd at the Grand Canyon

Me being a nature nerd at the Grand Canyon

Bring tons of H20, common sense. Lots of people kick the bucket from heatstroke. I wear a Camelpak, best invention ever. You can throw some ice in there too. Carry extra water in canteens in your backpack too for longer hikes.

Carry a map & compass. As a ridiculously directionally challenged person myself, I would urge you to not wing it, especially if you are not going on a defined trail. Although I’d like to believe I can find my way back by watching the sun and the stars, I’d totally be deluding myself. Most cell phones and GPS devices don’t pick up a signal in the wilderness.

Wear a pedometer. It’s fun to accurately track how many miles you’ve traversed and it can help you gauge how far you are from your destination.

My husband calls me Dora the Explorer, lol! Here I am in Sedona headed up to Cathedral Rock.

Here I am in magical Sedona headed up to Cathedral Rock.

Wear a baseball cap or hat and comfortable shades. You have to protect yourself from the sun, even on shady days. For sunglasses, I would get one of those eyeglass holder chains for around your neck. The wilderness has claimed my designer shades before.

Know how to dress. For the warmer weather, bring bandanas to wet & put on your neck, it keeps you cool. For colder weather, dress in layers. When you start racking up the mileage, you’ll get hot and you don’t want to sweat when it’s cold out. Under Armor has some really great tech shirts for either cold or hot weather to keep you dry, regardless of temperature. Keep hand-warmer packets on you, you can get them in camping or hunting supply section. My hands freeze really easily so the packets can keep you warm if they start turning blue.  Don’t forget that you can still get dehydrated in colder weather, so still drink water no matter what the temperature is.

Have a good idea of what you’re getting into. Some people bite off more than they can chew. Be honest about your physical fitness level. If you work out 5 times a week and do endless hours on the stairmaster, you’d probably be up for a long hike on an incline. Inclines are way more likely to give you trouble than actual mileage. 1 mile uphill is a lot harder sometimes than 4 miles on steady, flat ground. Bring a hiking stick, I wouldn’t rely on trying to find one once you’re already out there.

Take breaks if needed and/or take off your shoes and do yoga in random places. Why, you ask? Why not!

Other essentials: sunscreen, matches, knife, poncho, flashlight, hi-protein snacks to keep you full, some carbs for energy and electrolytes- (I like to put Emergen-C packets in my water bottles), water treatment pills if you run out of places to fill up on filtered water, band-aids/moleskin if you get blisters, and a whistle. You may want to get a snake bite kit & first aid kit too.  Bring a small plastic bag to hold your trash, as you would not want to pollute! It’s a given, but hopefully you’ll bring a camera to capture your adventure. There are digital cameras that are “rugged” models which are made to handle being dropped, dirt, rain, etc.  I’ve dropped my camera while climbing on some rocks and so you’ll need something that can handle the impact if you’re klutzy like me.

Bring bug repellant (you can make some natural bug repellant to bring) & also Arnica gel for bruises and bug bites. Arnica gel can be found at places like Whole Foods and Sprouts. It takes the swelling out of bug bites and can be used for aches & pains too.

For backcountry camping that involves carrying a lot more gear and possibly longer hikes, the same principles apply except that you’ll need more items to camp with. Before you leave for any trip, be thorough & make sure you have a checklist. Purchasing gear at the last minute can be costly. You can also rent gear from places like REI beforehand. If you have a membership with them, you get a discount.

Lastly, when you’re out in the wilderness, just stay aware of your surroundings at all times. We share the earth with some scary creatures but do not let this discourage you from having the adventure of a lifetime. Please feel free to leave questions or comments!

One Response to Take a Hike! Tips on Being Prepared for an Adventure

  1. I actually was in Sedona last year (wish I would have seen this article before I went!), great advice on being prepared for an adventure!

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