Introductory Guide To Hiking
Before you hit the trailhead for the first time, you want to make sure you are knowledgeable on how to prepare for a hike. Such as what to consider, the amount of water levels you should take with you, how to be prepared and responsible on the trail, and most of all some very important take a ways to remember to keep you and your trail buddies safe.
What To Consider
When planning for a hike there are many things to consider. We are currently in Arizona, and hiking in the summer months can be extremely dangerous, but it’s not something that can’t be done if you are prepared. As we plan for a hike we like to take in a number of things into consideration. One thing we try to do, is to stay closer to water like lakes and rivers, but that’s not always an option. The main thing we look at is the weather. What is the temperature going to be, how hot will it get during the 12- 3pm time frame, since that is the hottest time of the day, and check multiple areas around us during the summer months so we can try to pick a cooler area.
Now that we know what the weather will be like, we then look at the distance we are going to hike. How long will it take, are we hiking out, camping, or is it just a there and back. Make sure you always have some type of directions with you while you are on the trail. There are multiple ways to track yourself and your distance such as maps, gps, trail guide books or even cell phone apps. Current app we are using is the “REI Hiking Project” which actually works pretty good and is available on both apple and android, on and offline. Now remember, again these are just some of the questions you should know before you set off.
Now for the water, a good starting point here in Arizona, especially when it’s hot or humid out, its recommended that you drink 1(one) liter of water an hour. Now your going to have to do some math here to get a good starting point for how much water you will need, and you will need to know a little bit about your overall hiking ability. For example, like what is your walking pace per mile. Now this will vary from flat ground to uphill/ downhill. From what I have found, the average hiker’s pace seems to be right around 2-3 mph. Do keep in mind though, your pace will vary with how much weight you are carrying. Please do not try to finish trails faster because you feel you’re in good shape. You have to be honest with yourself and don’t push it. If you’re not in the best shape, give yourself more time to complete the hike.
For the example: Below I will be using a lower average hiking speed to show new hikers how this works.
If you know the length of your hike and you know your pace then you can get a rough estimate of how much water you will need.
3 mile hike at the rate of 1.5 mph
3 miles/1.5hr = 2 hours
Since we now know how long the hike should take, roughly about 2 hours and you need to drink 1 liter of water an hour, that means you will need 2 liters of water as a starting point for this trip per person. Now some people will drink more or less water, so you will have to find out what your body needs.
Now remember, this is just a starting point and you want error on the side of caution and bring more for your first hike. Make sure you do not to drink to fast, take small more frequent drinks every 10 to 15 minutes, and breaks if needed. Try to seek shade to help keep you stay cool during the hotter times. Remember water is heavy, it weighs 2.2lb per liter, so if you have a place to refill water then take that into consideration when planning your hike. Make sure the water source is reliable and you have some kind of filter. Some other things to keep in mind, is drinking when you know you have the water. On the way to the hike or to the trail head try to consume at least one liter of water, if you are by a water source make sure to drink as much as you can and refill your water supply before you leave, and after your hike or with dinner make sure you are rehydrating with plenty of water.
Be Prepared & Responsible
So then we pack our gear from cloths to food, to everything in between. We have also created a packing list or check list to follow. Now your list may need some modifications based on where you live, what time of year it is, and where you’re going to be hiking, but it’s a good starting point. That way you’re not just doing this last minute, but know that you will be prepared for what might come. Some key things to point out here, is know the area you are going to be hiking, is there going to be shade, sources of water, food, anything like that will make a difference of want you would need to bring.
One quick point to make here, is if you are hiking with someone, make sure they are aware of the plan. If this is your first time hiking with them, you might want to asses there skill level before you set off, and plan an easier hike to get started with. Make sure that you come prepared and are being the responsible hiker and helping to educate them along the way. And always make sure to keep your fellow new hikers safe. Do not set of on a hike if the other person is not prepared for the hike. Hold each other accountable and do a bag or gear check before you set off to make sure your fully prepared. You can always adjust want you have brought but you can’t add anymore to it. So take the time and make sure that proper expectations is set beforehand so everyone can enjoy being out in the sun.
When packing your gear for the hike remember to plan for things you would think of IE worst case, like getting lost, stuck, or even hurt. You always should make sure someone knows where you were planning on going, how long you are planning on being gone for, and when you are planning on returning. That way if something does go wrong you have some kind of support or help. Of course the biggest thing in that type of situation is to stay put and wait for help, don’t think you can do it, if you know help is coming then don’t move.
Last thing here is know your limits pushing yourself beyond what you are used to in a controlled environment is ok but when your hiking the control is no longer there. There is no spotter or trainer your not in a crowed gym its just you and nature. There are other things that can play into this such as extreme heat, extreme cold, dehydration and many more can make a big difference on the body. Even the extra weight that you might be carrying with you will make a change. Just think if a backpack for the day weighs in at let’s just say 15-25lb add that to your current weight plus the uneven ground, the ups and downs of the hills and mountains you will start to feel it. Don’t feel bad if you have to take breaks, just remember your safety and returning back, are the most important things. So get out and start exploring and Commit 2 your dream.