There is a great difference between hiking and walking. This should be clearly understood as preparation for the two take different turns. While walking is generally done within an urban area over a short or long distance, hiking involves conquering trails, mountains, and local forest parks. Hiking offers a sense of victory. It has the capacity to fill you with awe. It is good for the soul.
Hiking is a strenuous activity and it should be treated as such, as often, poor preparation and fitness levels can defeat beginners. As difficult as hiking seems to the uninitiated, it can be an epic journey, an adventure, and the driver to a healthier lifestyle.
This guide discusses the nitty-gritty of hiking for first timers. We have tried to write a piece that will inspire you; entertain you; give you the knowledge you need to make that first hike a pleasurable and successful one.
How do you want to hike?
As a beginner hiker, you don’t want to start your first challenge with Himalayan Mountain. Get familiar with your local area and enjoy it. Then, later, you can look at some challenging trails around the world.
Choosing the right hiking location is important. It is not too clever to start your first hike in an unmapped forest for a seven-hour hike; but you may consider a two-hour hike to match your fitness level, perhaps in a national park with trails. Ensure your location is safe, especially if you are hiking solo.
Although solo hiking can be a meditation time, group hiking is more social and you get to bond with friends while staying protected. If you are hiking solo, which often is a good idea, be sure to inform a friend about your hiking location and expected time of return.
What to wear?
Comfort while hiking is crucial. Get good footwear with great grip. You can choose between hiking boots or trainers designed for hiking. The keywords to consider while shopping for hiking footwear are light, grip, and protection. Whichever footwear choice you make, be sure to wear hiking socks, as they’ll prevent your feet getting sweaty and prone to blisters. Looking after your feet is an absolute must.
Choose performance-based outdoor clothing that keeps you comfortable. The location and duration of your hiking adventure should be considered in your choice of clothing for hiking. A jacket, hat, long sleeve shirt, trousers, and boots are normally good. Think layers and staying warm in cold climes, and think protection from the sun when it is warm. When hiking you are exposed to the elements for hours on end, so dress appropriately.
What to pack?
To enjoy your first adventure on the trails, you will need a small backpack to carry your stuff. Although, the size of the backpack will depend on the weather conditions, location, and duration of the hike, it must not be too heavy. Many people make the mistake of choosing to take a bag that weighs quite a bit when empty. Hiking backpacks are designed to be lightweight but strong, so it may be worth investing in a specialist bag, rather than settling for an old one you find in the garage.
If you are a beginner going on a starter hike the following may be what you need:
- A small backpack that can hold your water, extra clothes, books, food, and headphones. If you love books, you could spend a few hours reading in the woods or overlooking a beautiful mountain view; pop a great novel in.
Other important things to include in your backpack are a bug spray, first aid, pocket knife, sunglasses, and sunscreen. The more comfortable you are the longer you can spend hiking. Enough food and water should be packed to keep you hydrated and energized. Nuts, fruit, bread, almond butter, and beef are good food choice to take along, especially if you are hiking for quite a while.
- Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged. Smartphones are extremely important for their multitasking purpose including as compass, distance tracker, mapper, camera, and for music. A power bank is equally important if you are going on a hiking trip beyond the lifetime of your phone’s battery. Your phone can make the difference between being isolated and be safe; make sure you have it and have sufficient power.
Some tips to enjoy hiking
-Hike to high ground
Hike to the top of a mountain to see awesome surrounding views; the kind that give you a sense of victory and awe all at once. While hiking to the high point, make stops to eat lunch or just to have a cuppa, a break, and to breathe in the fresh air. Coming down is always easier, but care must be taken to shorten your strides when navigating steeper slopes.
-Make a hiking music list
This is especially handy if you are hiking solo. Listen to songs about nature, adventure, or simply any song that can give you extra motivation to keep going. Build an epic playlist to enjoy along the way.
Some of our Favourite Top Hiking Trips
Start from Fremantle and end in Perth while on this glorious hiking trail between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. Your trek will cut across cliff tops, pristine white sand beach and the Margaret River coastline. The clean ocean air will caress your face all through. You need a moderate level of fitness, however, to be able to enjoy this 6-8 hour trek.
This hike starts from Anaheim Lake and ends in Bella Coola and is only accessible by float plane. It is the perfect hiking escape as you can get immersed in the cosy and rustic British Columbia. Venture into the Great Bear Rainforest and you can understand why this is regarded as Canada’s best kept secret. If you ever get on the river drift tour, watch out for the feasting grizzlies as they gorge on Salmon in readiness for winter. The combination of wildlife viewing and hiking makes the British Columbia Mountain a must-go for avid hikers.
This is a classic hike in Australia’s Alice Spring that is now celebrated as one of the top 10 treks in the world. Walking along the high ridgelines across the trail ensures you can take in the sights and sounds of flood plains, rocky outcrops and the rustic ancient landscape. Get ready for six hours of trekking delight!
There is no introduction needed for this UNESCO world heritage site. On the hike trial, you can explore and photograph this magnificent island. Take in the remarkable biodiversity featuring a wide array of wildlife such as penguins, petrels, prions, sea lions, fur seals and many more. The island is also a bird sanctuary. Before proceeding on this hike, however, you need to be in tip top shape. The trails are challenging and there are numerous ascents to be navigated.
Have fun and stay safe
Hiking is so much fun and pleasure but care must be taken to avoid injuries and regrets. Whether you are hiking for some hours or for days, solo or with friends, have appropriate hiking gear and register for travel insurance from a company like State NZ, just in case anything goes wrong.
While hiking, do not pollute the environment by leaving thrash on the trail. Always respect the environment. Remember you are a visitor. Act that way and increase the enjoyment for both yourself and for others.