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Top Ten Tips for Your Next Hike
Hiking is an amazing way to get away from it all and connect with the natural world around us. It can also be exciting, challenging and a little scary. The key is being prepared and having a plan. Here is a list of our top 10 tips for getting outside safely and making memories along the way.
1. Check the Weather - Sure mountain weather doesn’t always listen to what the weatherman has to say but having an idea of what the day may bring gives you a head start on what to pack and wear. Even if it says 0% chance of rainfall, bring a raincoat, we’ve learned this the hard way.
There are lots of apps and websites that give very accurate estimates of the forecast. Use the technology at your fingertips to give yourself the best idea of what you’re headed into. If it calls for thunderstorms, maybe use that day as an explore local restaurants kind of day and leave the hiking for sunnier forecasts.
2. Route Planning - What are your goals? Do you want to chase some waterfalls or tackle a summit scramble? Knowing what kind of terrain your object sits at the end of is also extremely important. The technology and ability to learn about your objective before you leave home has also improved massively over the last few years. An app like AllTrails can give you a very good idea of what you’re headed into by using reviews of other hikers who may have done the hike just the day before. Use these apps as a guideline, nature doesn’t exactly care what someone says about it on an app or in a Yelp review.
Making sure you know how long the hike could potentially take will give you the ability to bring enough food and water, so you have enough energy to complete your goal and get home for the season finale of your favorite Netflix show.
3. Share Your Plan - If you know that the hike you’re headed on may take a few hours, let a friend in town know what you’re doing. Just in case something happens, someone will know where you are and what your plan was. Leaving a note on your car dashboard outlining your adventure is another good idea before heading into the wilderness.
Accidents happen on the easiest of hikes and rarely is there reliable cellphone reception once you head into the woods. Letting someone else know your plan is really easy and is a great backup in case you are unable to call for help. We don’t want to scare anyone but these are little tips that can save lives.
4. Fitness - Hiking is a great way to build fitness. Whether strolling through trails behind your home or driving to a local trailhead before heading into nature. As your hiking goals grow and you look at bigger objectives, make sure that your fitness is up to the task. While we all love to push ourselves in the mountains, it is important to know your limits and when turning around may be necessary for your own safety.
5. Water - Bring it. Always. Whether it’s a 15min hike to a waterfall or a 10hr summit hike, always have water. It’s easy to bring either in a reservoir system, like CamelBak, or in a water bottle. Officially a litre per hour, if you are working really hard. A trick we like to do is bring an insulated thermos filled with ice and water and leave it in the car while on the hike. There is nothing better than cool water at the end of the hike while driving home and it helps you rehydrate if your water got a little low while on the hike.
6. Food - Food is a tricky one. Everyone likes different things when headed on a hike. Some people don’t eat a lot while on the trail and save it all for a massive meal back in town. Others like to nibble throughout the day and always have a snack on the go. We have seen lots of options on the trail and it comes down to how much you want to carry while moving. Glass Tupperware full of last night’s leftovers isn’t the most weight-conscious item though it would be delicious. Granola bars or energy gels/chews are high energy for little weight but may not be as filling.
7. Gear - Check out our “Packing List” article for a more in-depth look at what our guides recommend you bring on every hike. Some essentials would be a small first aid kit, a warm layer and a rain layer. As mentioned earlier weather changes quickly in the mountains especially when the sun dips below the very tall horizon.
8. Safety Equipment - There are several pieces of gear that we recommend on any hike that is going to take you into the backcountry or just very far down a marked trail.
On the Trail
9. Pace Yourself - Sure you may want to race to the top of the mountain to the views, but you always need to leave some in the tank for the hike home. Pick a pace that you can maintain all day, a nice pace where you can talk to your partner is great, that means you’re not overdoing it. If there is an uphill on the hike, remember that you’ll need to go down that section eventually and some people find the downs more tiring than the ups. You have all day! Enjoy being in nature and soak it all in, your TikTok followers will still be there when you get back to town.
10. Leave No Trace - These stunning escapes will only stay stunning if we protect them. Plan to bring out any of the wrappers or garbage that you’ll create along your journey. Food wrappers are the most common piece of litter we see on trails and it’s so easily avoided! As the National Parks say “take only pictures and leave only footprints”.
BONUS TIP: ENJOY! - Whether you’re out on the trail alone, with friends or family, use this hike or walk as a departure from the busyness of the “real world”. Take lots of deep breathes, listen to the birds, find a waterfall, jump into an alpine lake. Put the phone away except for the really good views and escape.