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A Beginners Guide to Hiking

Posted On: June 20th, 2019

Hiking is one of my favorite activities. It allows you to escape from the stresses of everyday life and gets you outside. You get a unique experience when hiking. Plus the views are incredible!  Something about smelling the fresh air and hearing the animals instantly puts me in a better mood. Another added bonus is it is a great form of exercise, anyone can do it no matter your age or fitness level. My daughter has been hiking since she could walk. It is also easy to get into and can be very low cost depending on what you are doing. My husband and I are still fairly new to being serious hikers, we started getting serious about it in January 2018. Now, we plan our vacations around different areas we want to hike. We were a little lost in the beginning, so I am hoping this blog will help you get started hiking or get you interested in hiking. It really is a fun activity!Hocking Hills State Park-Hocking County Ohio

Really all you need to get started is a good pair of shoes. I don’t mean tennis shoes or sandals, you need to invest in a good pair of waterproof hiking shoes. Make sure you try them on and test them out in the store. I bought a pair of boots off Amazon to try and save some money, big mistake. Each time we went on a hike, even a small one, I ended up with blisters all over my feet. It was awful, and painful. My friend insisted on taking me to Great Miami Outfitters, a great local outdoor store, to get new shoes. They were not cheap, I ended up spending close to $200 on a pair of boots, the difference though was incredible. I went the next week to Maine and hiked 20+ miles without any issues. Make sure you get proper fitting boots! Socks are just as important, don’t wear cotton socks. Cotton won’t wick away any moisture which results in rubbing and blisters.Hiking in Grand Canyon National Park with inappropriate footwear and backpack

As you get more comfortable and start hiking longer distances you should start to invest in other items. A daypack with a water bladder is a great investment. I got mine off Amazon for around $25. It frees up your hands and allows you to carry snacks, extra layers of clothing, first aid kit, map, and safety items with you. Having enough water (and a way to purify it if you are backcountry hiking) is important to stay hydrated. You can also invest in hiking poles if you choose. They aren’t a necessity, but they can help when going uphill. Sometimes they can’t be used on trails because of the terrain. You can also get a decent pair off Amazon.Hiking in Acadia National Park- Maine with appropriate gear

 There are certain unwritten guidelines to follow when hiking. The biggest is leave no trace. That means everything you bring with you, comes back with you. Leave only footprints and take nothing but pictures. Also stay on the trail, they are there for a reason. Going off trail can result in damaging the delicate plant life and can disturbed the eco-system. Don’t feed the wildlife either. It is customary for downhill hikers to yield to uphill hikers, and If you need a break, make sure there is enough room for other groups to pass. Sierra Nevada Mountain Range-California 

If you decide you love hiking and want to take hiking vacations you should plan ahead, even when you are going to relatively familiar areas. People get lost all the time. Let people know when and where you will be hiking and when you expect to return. Take the time to map out your trails. We didn’t do this in Maine and we should have. We climbed up Champlain Mountain in Acadia National Park and ended up taking the wrong trail down. We got off trail, found our way back on trail and ended up on the wrong side of the mountain. Fortunately we were only 3 miles from the car and had enough food and water. Always map out your trails. My friend uses https://caltopo.com/m/0G2N to map hers, or the visitor center usually has maps for sale too. Tennessee Pass, snowshoeing in Leadville, Colorado 

Make sure you dress in layers for longer hikes, you never know what the weather is going to be like. In higher elevations it can change rapidly. One minute it might look bright and sunny, and the next its pouring rain.Acadia National Park - Maine

Finally, know what the trail markers look like. Each place has different markers. The Metroparks have very clear and distinct signs for their trails. Other places have blazes on the trees or rocks or they may have cairns. Cairns are man-made piles of rocks to help guide hikers to let them know they are still on the path. Please do not build additional cairns. If you find yourself off the path and don’t know where you are immediately turn around and retrace your steps until you find something you recognize.Trail maker to Auerbach Castle in Zwingenberg, Germany  Buckeye trail marker-Hocking Hills State Park

I would love to see your hiking pictures! You can send them to me at Val@rivervalleycu.org. For more fun head to my blog. If you want to see more of my hiking pictures you can find them on Instagram or Facebook under River Valley Val.Bryce Canyon National Park-Utah Zwingenberg,Germany

 

Happy Trails!