3 Things to Know for Your First Hike
Why even go for a hike? Hikes can be incredibly easy or intensely challenging, they are literally a choose your own adventure. I very much would say to start small or with what your exercise level is but also if you start and realize it’s harder than you were expecting, you get to take breaks or even stop for the day. That is completely up to you. No pressure.
Research & Preparation - Here are the things to research and do before you head out
What will the weather be like IN THE AREA you are going to for the day? Pack accordingly. Depending on when you go (morning vs mid-day) or how far from where you are, the weather can be drastically different so make sure you plan and pack for what you bring and how you will dress.
Have you read the reviews of the trail? Check here first and then All Trails for trail info, tips, and reviews.
Check to see what the wildlife in the area is. Knowing how to respond to any possible wildlife is essential. You are going in nature, wildlife is to be expected but not to be feared. The things that determine the scary wildlife are mostly seasonal like mating season or summertime once the babies are born. Keep in mind, I have been adventuring for years and have yet to run into any predatory animal. It CAN happen but death or injury can very much be avoided by knowing how to respond.
Layer up! Where you are going and when will determine how you should layer. In the desert, most people think it’s just hot all the time but outside of summertime, until the sun is all the way up, it can be chilly to downright cold. Or if you are hiking in the colder months, do you have a backpack to put your layers as you probably warm-up? Layering properly can determine your comfort and the overall fun of the hike. I would only recommend layering your top unless the weather at any point will be below 50 degrees or rain/ snow is in the forecast
The 3 basic layers: 1. The base layer - Anything that is body-hugging, think leggings and a fitted long sleeve or simple long johns. If you are just getting started and aren’t ready to invest, polyester is a great base layer. It helps wick away moisture and keep in body heat. If you have it or are ready to buy something good, merino wool is phenomenal. 2. Mid layer - Consider this as the insulation, it can be anything as simple as wool, fleece, or polyester sweats but should be thick and warm. I said thick, not bulky as bulky can get uncomfortable and once you are uncomfortable, fun is hard to find. 3. Top layer - Depending on the weather (windy/ snowing) this layer should be weatherproof (wind/ waterproof) if needed but could simply be your top warm layer to keep the elements out.
“What are THOSE?!” But really, your shoes matter because if you get a blister halfway up or keep rolling your ankle, you may never want to hike again. If you are just beginning, you don’t need to invest in hiking boots yet, however, you need to consider the terrain and weather still. I hiked in basic Nike sneakers for years before I bought my first hiking boots but I also paid attention to where I was walking. In the summertime or warm weather, you can get away with sneakers if they have some grip to them. Just be aware that hiking trail terrain can shift drastically and you want to make sure you can make it up the randomly super steep bit of trail. Where your shoes matter will be in the cold or if it expected to be wet. If the trail is wet, waterproof shoes will be necessary for comfort. In the winter/ snow, sneakers will not do. Waterproof, high top boots that cover your ankles are the most ideal for snow/ winter hiking along with crampons/ spikes which help with traction.
ALWAYS bring enough water and then some. I truly recommend bringing a bag for snacks or when you take off layers but most importantly, to carry your water.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, let someone know outside of the people you are going with where you will be, when and when you will be back. If you can, share your location with them on your phone.
Pay attention at all times. If you are deep in conversation or listening to music, you may lose track of where you are going or if there were any signs/ directions. Also, if there are animals nearby, not paying attention can get you in trouble.
I do not personally recommend bringing a gun for a hike, but a knife can possibly come in handy. I don’t know why but Black folks always think we’re gonna run into the worst-case situation like lion or bear but the likelihood is low. This is why research is important. Also, the problem with a gun is, if you end up using it on an animal, you can actually find yourself in trouble with wildlife services.
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