How to Properly Hike

 

      March has arrived and springtime approaches.  Snow will melt and the merciless clutches of winter will loosen. Winter hiking is for the experienced hiker.  It requires more gear and precautions than hiking any other time of year. The rewards, after braving dangerous conditions and trudging through ice and snow are substantial, and hard earned.

      Many people will make a vow that this year, they will get outside more.  Few actually do, but those few will be happier, less stressed and anxious people.  The studies confirming that hiking helps anxiety and depression levels are numerous. Walking through the woods, alone with one’s thoughts, or engaged in conversation with a close friend, does wonders for the psyche.  The payoff, whether it be a summit or a mountain lake provide a tangible reward: You, your strength, and your wits, got you there. Nothing else. 

      There are some simple rules to hiking to ensure the most enjoyable, honest and safe experience possible.  Due to social media, you see a lot of people on hiking trails that don’t really belong there, or they are soiling the experience.  

A Few Simple Rules about Hiking and the Ten Essentials:

-Do not bring speakers or a boom box.  No one wants to hike to your soundtrack.  You don’t really want to wear headphones either, as it’s a safety and experience issue.
-  No flip flops. Period.  Get a decent pair of hiking boots.  You can get away with regular athletic shoes for the easier trails, but it’s not something you want to get used to.
- Bring water.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  On hot summer days, bring about twice as much as you think you need.  You do not want to be in a situation where you run out.
- Make sure somebody knows where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- Be aware of the weather conditions and plan accordingly. Weather is unpredictable, especially at higher elevations. The below picture is at over 7K feet of elevation in the middle of July.

The Ten Essentials:
   -Map
   -Compass (optionally supplemented with a GPS receiver)
   -Sunglasses and sunscreen
   -Extra clothing
   -Headlamp (or flashlight)
   -First-aid supplies
   -Firestarter
   -Matches
   -Knife