I may be a little biased, but hiking is one of the best ways to spend a Saturday. It gets you outside, gets you exercising, and lets you see sights that you would otherwise miss out on entirely. However, getting into hiking can be a little intimidating, especially if you are just starting out or have taken a break for while. Here are the best ways to get into hiking.
START SMALL AND WORK YOUR WAY UP
You don’t need to jump right into full day, 15 mile hikes. Instead, you can began on easier trails and advance to more difficult trails as you build your muscles up. Luckily, trails are all rated (easy, moderate, strenuous) so you can quickly find the trails that are right for you. Start with low mileage and low elevation gains, and progress as you feel fit. Remember that it is always an option to just do part of a trail as well, and there is no shame in turning back whenever you want, especially when you are just starting.
DON’T GET TOO CAUGHT UP IN GEAR
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of gear to get into hiking. You do not need boots or trekking poles or a North Face jacket. All you need to begin is some tennis shoes, whatever clothes you are comfortable moving around in, and a water bottle. You can upgrade your gear if you really want to later.
LEAVE YOUR CRAP IN THE CAR
Every time I’m out I always see day hikers carrying huge heavy backpacks, and I can never understand why. What do they even have in there? Don’t they realize how much more that wears them out? Pack light my friends. Plan for how long you will be out on the trail, and only bring what you need. Your body will thank you.
Keep in mind when you are hiking that you are out in nature, and nature isn’t always the safest place. Check the weather before you go out and stay home if it looks questionable. Know your route by looking at maps before you leave and possibly carrying one with you (Smartphones double as map, Hey-yo! Just make sure it works offline). Tell someone where you are going and when you should be back. Stay away from wild animals, even the ones that look nice. And always always always listen to your body and don’t do anything you are not capable of. Pushing yourself is good, pushing yourself too hard is bad. Watch out for that fine line between the two.
Water is your new best friend, keep it close. Make sure you bring enough with you for the hike you are planning to do, and when in doubt, too much is better than too little. Remember that you are outside in the sun exercising, so you will need to drink more than usual. For longer hikes, check where water sources are before you go out and plan accordingly.
LEAVE NO TRACE
Familiarize yourself with leave no trace. Pack out whatever you pack in. Be kind to mother nature and all that crap. If you love it enough to be out there, you should love it enough to take care of it.