As a youth, I loved the outdoors. It was my escape. Whenever the stresses of life got to me, I quickly learned that going on a hike made me free. For a short while, I could head into the great outdoors, forget life, and pretend that I was a great explorer destined to accomplish some amazing feat. To this day, hiking and exploring remain a big part of my life, but over the years I’ve learned the hard way that there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
The Wrong Way
When considering an adventure it can be easy to jump right in without giving it a second thought. I remember countless times wherein I took no time to prepare and decided to just get going. One such time, my friend and I decided to climb a small mountain in Southern Utah in the middle of Summer. It wasn’t until nearly reaching the top that we realized something, we hadn’t brought any water! The temperature outside reached over 110 degrees and we hadn’t brought the one thing that most anyone would have thought to. Even a small bottle would have made a large difference in our endeavor, but we got to excited, and simply wanted to get on with it. The result of our choices was that we became very dehydrated, uncomfortable, and may have suffered heat stroke. Not an experience I’d recommend.
The Right Way
The greatest lesson I have ever learned about heading into a new adventure is this: Be prepared. As in the example above, even the smallest amount of preparation can make the difference between a good and bad experience. Every hike is different and there are many variables that should be properly thought of and planned for before beginning. That is the purpose of this blog you are reading, to help you figure out how to prepare for any hike or outing that you might wish to take on.
5 Things to Consider
Before heading out on a hike, consider the area that you’ll be. Specifically, you should look up what the weather and temperature are going to be. When trying to plan far in advance, it can be useful to look up the average weather for the time of year that you’ll be going. Simply go to google.com and type in the name of a location and the words “weather averages”. See this link for an example
Who will be coming with you? It is always wise to hike with others. Try to get a head count for your hike and plan accordingly. Do you have enough water, snacks, and possible gear? Perhaps most important is to take note of each person’s athletic ability. Bringing someone to a strenuous hike that is not prepared will not end well.
Ensure that you have all the right gear. Each group and climate will require something different. For example, if it is snowy out, it can be a good idea to either buy snow shoes or some attachable chains. Some common supplies that you might consider bringing are:
First aid kit
A bag to carry everything
A small survival kit (Like this one)
Make sure your selected hike is within your ability. Find out the distance and elevation change that will be traveled. A long hike with a lot of elevation change is a strong sign that the hike will be very difficult. It’s important to know what you’re facing in order to ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Always be sure to take note of the environment that you’ll be hiking in. Many of the items you’d use to prepare for a hike in the woods would not help you in the desert. Try doing some research about the plants and animals in your selected area. Is there anything you’ll want to try and avoid? Or even better, is there anything that you’ll want to try and find?
By making sure that you are a prepared hiker, not only will you be more safe, but you’ll likely begin to enjoy the outdoors even more. Being ready for a good hike allows you the luxury of truly being able to discover. As you get deeper into the world of hiking you start to realize how much taking a little time to prepare doesn’t hinder, but rather helps you along your explorations.