Written by Susan Patterson
Without proper planning, a hike can quickly turn into a nightmare. Avoiding unnecessary accidents and incidents is possible with adequate preparation. Remember, it is equally vital to prepare for a day hike, as it is to prepare for a longer journey. Know your route well and always take a friend along. Hiking alone is dangerous and should be avoided at all times.
Nature presents many challenges, many of which can surprise you during your hike. Before embarking on your adventure make sure, you are in top shape. If you have not been walking regularly, or your walk is only on straight and flat land, begin walking at least 30 minutes daily three weeks prior to your hike. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your walking until you can easily walk an hour without any discomfort. This will strengthen your leg muscles and your heart. Add a pack with some weight for extra training if your hike is long. Swimming is also an excellent overall conditioner and can be incorporated into your workouts.
Keeping your feet comfortable and well supported is essential for a happy hike. Never try out a new pair of hiking boots for the first time on a hike. Wear your boots for several weeks prior and make sure they are fitting correctly. Old and worn out boots will promote blisters and should be avoided, as well. Wear hiking socks to absorb moisture and provide additional comfort. Always pack a second pair of socks in case your feet get wet.
Packing light and smart is a golden rule for hikers. First things first be sure you have a pack that is comfortable. Even if you know the area where you are hiking well, always bring a compass, guidebook and trail map. It is easy for even the best hikers to become disoriented. Dehydration happens quickly and with little warning, be sure to bring plenty of water. High-energy snacks provide quick energy and take up little room in your pack. Trail mixes, energy bars, candy, and beef jerky are excellent choices. A first aid kit and an understanding of basic first aid procedures must be included. A Swiss army knife is an invaluable tool that should not be overlooked. Leave room in your pack for gloves, a rain suit and some form of fire starter. Avoid bulky or unnecessary supplies that will only weigh you down.