Hiking – how hard could it be? It’s just walking . . . Famous last words. I recently got into hiking when I moved to a place where there were hills and trails and trees. If you are looking for something to do, this is a great full-body workout, and you get to be outside and enjoy the nice weather. There are several degrees of hiking, so you should start off slow with nicely paved trails and graduate to rugged uphill mountains.
But first things first – get a pair of good hiking shoes. Pictured are my Merrell hiking shoes, which I find to be super comfortable. I would suggest not getting your first pair online, but going into a sports/mountain store and trying them on. Some of the stores have a ramp where you can simulate climbing uphill. Try the shoes on with wool socks, which I was told to wear, because it keeps your feet warm and dries quickly.
Wear synthetic fibers when hiking. There’s nothing worse than being sweaty and heavy when you are already tired from climbing uphill for 10 miles. Synthetic fibers dry quicker and will end up being lighter.
Layers, Layers, Layers. If you are hiking for 2 miles in the nearby park, you will be fine in a Parka, but when you go to the mountains of Colorado or Machu Picchu in Peru, you are going to see dramatic temperatures swings depending on the time of day. The mornings will be cold, the afternoons super hot, and then warm to cold at night. For serious hikes I like to wear a workout tee (polyester), long sleeves, and then a warm vest to keep my torso warm. The thin pieces are easy to stuff into a backpack.
Drink like a fish. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. It’s very important to drink lots of water, as well as eat protein. I had never heard of altitude sickness until I was climbing a mountain, but it is real and you can get some serious headaches or start to feel faint. Carry some nuts or other type of protein in your bag and lots of water to drink.
Last tip – always have an exit strategy. Don’t start a 10 mile hike at 4pm, when sunset is at 6. Be smart. Give yourself enough time to get out of the trail and carry a map or compass in case you get lost. Know your surroundings. Some areas are known for bears, while others are known for poisonous snakes. It’s better to be over prepared than under.
Summer is not over when Labor Day hits – you still have 3 good weeks; and then fall hikes can be exceptionally pretty with the foliage. So, stop making excuses, and be one with nature!