Planning a 10-mile day hike with your friends during a winter Arizona getaway? Hitting a trail while visiting Denver, Colorado, with your loved one? Make sure you’re properly prepared and you know what to expect so that you’re not the one holding up the group – because that’s no fun for anyone.
If you’re new to hiking and outside of your element, don’t underestimate dehydration and the natural need for water. You may think you brought enough water but you can never be too sure. You’re forced to ask your hiking buddies if someone wouldn’t mind sharing water with you from their Camelbak, which can generally be perceived as a sign of stupidity. Even if your hike is only a few miles, unfamiliar terrain and the sun can quickly dehydrate you.
Hiking isn’t a stroll in the park, and you should make sure to start your hike with a full stomach. (Give me yet another reason to eat breakfast, please.) Like with any activity, you’ll need food and nutrition, especially for long hikes with spikes in elevation that demand high amounts of energy.
Pack your Camelbak with edible essentials such as fruit, trail mix and energy bars, such as these fun ones:
- thinkThin high-protein bars in chunky peanut butter
- powerCrunch protein energy bar in French vanilla cream
- LARABAR, sweet and salty fruit & nut bar in banana foster
- LUNA bar in Chocolate Peppermint Stick
Hiking trails are clearly marked to prevent hikers from getting lost or falling into a dangerous situation. During preparation for your hike, you should be know the trailhead that you’ll be hiking, its route, how many miles it consists of and an estimated time for completion. If you’re hiking alone, always let someone know your whereabouts. If James Franco's real-life character Aron Ralston taught us anything in the movie “127 Hours,” it’s never immerse yourself into the wilderness alone without letting someone know where you are and when. Most of us would like to return home with all our limbs in their original conditions.
As you descend a mountain, a steep incline could entice you to pick up speed. Running may get you down the mountain faster, but it’s also a faster way to meet your face with the ground. Your muscles are tired and your focus has waned, which makes you more susceptible to losing your balance and tripping on trail debris. Takeaway? The liberation and exhilaration of fleeing down a hiking trail ends abruptly when you roll your ankle, break your leg and lose your independence (help!).
On a more strenuous and challenging hike, mental perseverance will be your friend. Reaching the summit on a mountain with high elevation and repeated switchbacks mile upon mile can take you to the point of giving up. Reaching the summit is well worth the hike, which can became a metaphorical motto for life experiences. Self-awareness, however, is just as important. Know your limits before and during your hike. We’re so much more capable than we think we are, yet listen to what your body is telling you, whether you need a short break or to turn around. Be sentitive to your ego.