Healthspan Blog

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How to prepare for a day of hiking

7th July 2006

Hiking season, wahoo!  Time to strap up my hiking boots and hit the trails.  While I’m not a veteran hiker, I do like a four to eight mile trek in the mountains on a nice summer day.  Before taking up the hobby, I thought preparing for a hike meant to grab a map.  I’ve learned quite a bit along the trail, how preparation can make or break a day in the hills.  Here are some lessons I’ve learned:

Wet my Whistle – I’m a notorious water lush, can drink most people under the table if the bar is serving up sky juice.  But one of my first times out hiking I brought only a 20 ounce bottle filled with water.  While that always did fine for an hour long adventure walking in a neighborhood, I was very thirsty by the time I made it to the three mile mark of an eight mile hike.  I had to turn around before hitting the peak and was disappointed in myself.  I vowed not to let that happen again.  Since then, I figure 8 ounces of water per mile. 

Pack the Snacks – Once I started bringing enough water, carrying it up and down the hills, I found I had a very big appetite.  While a three mile journey in my town may require just a granola bar or apple, my three mile hike requires an apple, some sliced turkey and a protein shake.  I might not eat it all, but it’s easier to pack out the excess snacks than to get weak. 

Wear the Right Boots – My trails of choice aren’t paved but they aren’t Mount Everest, either.  My choice of foot covering, therefore, is a mid-weight boot.  Hiking sandals are way to flimsy, and hiking shoes don’t support my ankles.  Mountaineering boots are too pricey for my use.  I like to make sure they’re tied tightly before heading out as well. 

Bring a Friend – Last summer I took off up a trail without my usually hiking buddy, he couldn’t come with me that day.  The area was a deceiving tangle of trails and I ended up hiking three miles above my anticipated six.  In addition to being fatigued, I feared I might end up stuck there overnight.  I think if he would’ve come with me, he would have remembered the zig where I zagged.  If you don’t bring a friend, at least bring a map. 

Dog Daze – This is my newest rule of thumb.  My sister and I went for a hike last weekend with her hyper pup, Bella.  She’s a great dog, very active and if dogs can have ADD, she’s got it.  We thought she could make it without any problems.  We headed out the trail, Bella was very enthusiastic.  About three miles up the trail, she started tiring.  The eight mile round-trip hike got harder on our way down, we practically had to drag her down.  She was foaming at the mouth and, despite drinking as often as we did, she was definitely dehydrated.  Even the most active canine can fold under a hiking trip if she’s not been conditioned. 

Written by Mary Smith

2 Responses to “How to prepare for a day of hiking”

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