Hiking up a mountain can be an exciting exercise to stretch your body and release your mental stress. For people who want to challenge themselves and start having an enjoyable and safe experience, here are some tips with importance explained by personal experience:
- Avoid hiking alone. As a hiker, you will encounter a lot of emergencies, uncertainties, and accidents. For instance, getting lost when you did not bring a map and your phone has no service; bites, scratches, and toxic plants; serious injuries that make you unable to walk; a slippery trail after an unexpected rain, etc. These incidents can be hard to deal with as a beginner hiker. Therefore, grabbing a few experienced friends or joining a hiking Meetup group is a better way to start. If for some reason these options are not possible, be sure to prepare well, do some deep research about the trail, and be aware of any potential dangers when you are hiking.
- Choose a trail that isn’t going to be too difficult for you, and build on the distance as time goes on. The first trail I went on was 9 miles, which was totally out of my acceptable distance range. I suffered during the process and could not walk for three days after the hike. Remember that 5 miles uphill is not the same as 5 miles flat. Start with smaller goals, and then you will have the courage and confidence to continue your hiking career.
- Have all the proper gear that you may need and wear hiking boots, a comfortable backpack, and clothes fit for the weather. Bring plenty of food and water, a headlamp, extra clothing, navigation tools, a first-aid kit, firestarters, sun protection, rain gear, trekking poles, and toiletries. Go on the internet to find hiking checklists from experienced people, and be sure to bring the gear with you. I recommend investing in a pair of hiking boots, as they give you needed protection when you are crossing a river or slip during rain.
- Check the weather before heading out. The weather on the mountain can be drastically different from nearby places. The rain can be totally unexpected. Be sure to prepare for the weather.
- Plan your time wisely and get back before sunset. For a beginner hiker, I recommend starting with one-day hiking first. This means you do not spend extra days on the trail and go back within a single day. Therefore, you have to plan your time wisely, understand your personal pace, and start heading down early. I spent too much time on the mountain the first time and started downhill when it was already 17:00. Sunset was at 19:40, and I was unable to see the trail after 19:55 when I was still on the mountain. Even worse, it started raining, and the trail became wet and slippery. It was a tough experience, which I believe you do not want to experience. If you really did not get back before it is all dark, use your headlamp and watch your steps carefully. Stay safe and use your GPS rescue beacon or call 911 if necessary.
- Don’t panic during emergencies, and enjoy your hike! Remember that there are plenty of solutions for every problem, ask for help, and don’t panic. Enjoy the birdsong along the way and the breathtaking view from the mountaintop. I believe you will fall in love with this activity and can’t wait to unfold new adventures!