Hiking can be a wonderful pastime and it has become such a popular hobby for millions across the world. It isn’t difficult to see why hiking has become popular though; hikers get a sense of adventure and it can be so rewarding to hike to the top of the world’s highest summits. Some of the sights along the way can be magical and new bonds will surely be made too.
However, hiking isn’t without its dangers. Anyone who wants to reach the highest peak in the world will understand it can be a dangerous thing because you are challenging the body to do something it has never done before. Achieving your goals however, will be rewarding in every which way and the following, are just a few simple tips all first-time hikers should know.
Do Your Homework
It doesn’t matter where you choose to hike, whether it’s somewhere local or abroad, you absolutely must know what you’re getting into. Hiking is tiresome and extremely tough on the body because it goes through a lot and thousands of new hikers are unfortunately unprepared for this. There are new skills to learn and different climates to acclimatize too, not to mention the risks associated with hiking in general. If you want to become a seasoned hiker, you must get to know what is involved from start to finish.
You also need to research the areas in which you are interested hiking in. Now, as most will know, some hiking trails are much harder than others and sometimes, even the easier trails are made difficult due to changing weather conditions. Before you decide to get into hiking or choose a hiking trail, you need to research the area fully and get to know the area very well.
Understanding the Risks
While millions of people each year hike, only a very small number of them accomplish their hiking ambitions. For example, hundreds of people each and every year attempts to reach the summit of Mount Everest but in reality, there are usually only a handful who reach the top, if that. It is very dangerous and even though it’s the most dangerous peak in the world, any hiking trails can be the same.
In most cases, hikers don’t reach their goals simply because they haven’t prepared for what lies ahead. Many hikers go on their first trail with the expectation they’re going to go all the way, however, that is a romantic idea. It would be nice to reach the summit but it doesn’t always happen and you need to be prepared because hiking isn’t always magical and isn’t always exciting either! The terrain will be tough at times and it’ll be cold, wet and miserable; it’s no walk in the park.
However, there are a host of reasons why hikers don’t succeed including fatigue – both physical and mental – and usually its mental fatigue which hits hikers hardest. There will be times when you are tired, cold, dirty from the climb and hungry and in a lot of pain; and in all honesty, mental fatigue is difficult to brush away. Hiking does put lots of stress onto the mind and the body too of course and you might end up getting hurt and if you do get hurt, you may be unable to complete the trail.
Every first-time hiker must be prepared what the hike will do to the body and the mind.
Starting Off Small
Every hiker wants to reach the biggest goal of all but there is no real rush to achieve it. You have to be more realistic and set yourself goals that are manageable and easy to reach. In all honesty, first-time hikers aren’t going to conquer Everest; seasoned hikers fail to do so and they have the experience. That is why you need to start off much smaller; set out smaller hiking goals and achieve them and then when you have a fair bit of experience behind you, work your way to the bigger trails.
You may think this isn’t advice but it is because everyone, no matter who they are, cannot reach success without taking small steps first. If you complete the smaller steps, reaching the top will be possible and more rewarding.
Too Much Gear Will Slow You Down
When it comes to serious hiking, you need a huge amount of gear to help get through the difficulties awaiting you. However, first-time hikers don’t necessarily need to pack a huge amount of gear. You are probably starting off on a smaller hiking trail and you’ve probably packed way too much stuff. Extra weight hampers your efforts for success.
Remember, you can cover a lot more miles with the essentials than you can with tones of unnecessary extra pounds. Beginners don’t always need to take so much gear, especially on the smaller hikes because it’s just not needed and usually you’ll ditch something’s along the way too which is a waste of money. You’re just starting out and you don’t want to put too much pressure on the body, you must think seriously about what gear you actually need for each hike. When you research the trails, you can have a fair idea of what the trek will be like and what you actually need.
Make Friends on Each Trail
Hiking is going to be very tough on your mind and it can get very lonely, very fast and if you do get this way, you’ll want to quit. Instead, you should try to meet new people who enjoy hiking and make new friends on every trail. Doing this will allow you to have someone to talk to and have an anchor of support; also, when you have a friend on hand for support, you can encourage one another to keep going. Too many hikers go off alone and while that can be fine, some find it very lonely.
Injuries are highly likely to occur with long-distance hiking and many new hikers experience these problems often. It will be important to stretch as often as you possibly can while hiking; stretch the legs for a few minutes in the morning, during breaks in the afternoon and in the evening too. Stretching only takes a few minutes but they will help keep you going and avoid the muscle strains and pains.
Your Body Knows Best
Your body needs time to adjust to the hiking trails as well as the different weather conditions and when you’re just starting out, you must pace yourself. You need to space out how often you go on hiking trails as well as space your daily hiking goals too; this will give your body the much needed time to sensibly adjust comfortably without overdoing it. However, it’s also important to listen to what your body is saying.
If your body is telling you to slow down, you should. Your body knows when it had enough and pushing your body until you can’t possibly move a muscle is extremely bad especially when hiking. You may be alone on a trail and if you can’t move, you have no help and you can imagine what could happen. Instead, take your time and when your body tells you to stop, stop!
Take Extreme Care Of Your Feet
Your feet are the most important items on your body because they keep you going. However, many first-time hikers don’t take proper care of their feet and it means they will not get far. You need to ensure you look after your feet; this means wearing proper socks, synthetic works best, as well as proper hiking boots. It also wouldn’t hurt to massage the feet at least once a day and rest them when possible. This may help to reduce blisters and bunions.
Hiking may be a dangerous and tiresome activity but it can also be exciting and fun and you should never forget that. You can still be cautious and enjoy the experience at the same time and just remember baby steps are much better. Yes, it might take you a lot longer to achieve your goals but it will be much better in the long run.