Hiking for Beginners 101

In the month of May, my sister came to visit us and I decided to supplement my workouts with hikes around the island so she could have some free and cheap sight-seeing as well as some good exercise. I highly recommended doing this it is a fun way to explore the area where you live. It is a great form of exercise and keeps you active on your rest days and gives you some variety in your workouts as well. While I again highly recommend this as an excellent pastime, I also have some tips on what NOT to do on hikes. We may or may not have learned these tips from experience. I can not confirm or deny………lol

We learned some very valuable lessons on our hikes that I thought I’d share with you. First off and mot importantly, Do not leave home without Water! We did not ever leave home without water, but we did discover that not all water is equal when hiking either. lol A water bottle while a great form of carrying your water does not stay cold no matter how much ice you put into it. A water bottle is also a pain in the neck to carry around on an all uphill hike. We have Camelbaks (also highly recommended), however that does us no good if we forget that and bring water bottles instead. We did learn our lesson though, after that first hike we made sure our Camelbaks, packed with ice and a tiny bit of water, were our first priority.

Another good lesson is that Being prepared requires research. Our first hike, again with that one being the most interesting of lessons, began with us thinking it was one thing (an easy 1.5 mile hike) and finding out it was a completely different story (a 3 mile hike completely uphill the whole way). If we had bothered to read the reviews, we could have been more prepared and ready for the amount of time it would take and NOT brought the stroller but the baby carrier instead. However, we weren’t and let me tell you a stroller packed with baby, water bottles and picnic lunch weighing about 50 pounds going uphill feels about like 75 pounds after a while. I recommend an app called All Trails. It is available for free for the android and IPhone. It is not always accurate for the lengths of the trails, but they try to keep it updated with the trail specifics and what I like to use the most is the reviews of people who have been on the trail. Those I have found to be invaluable. I also like the filters you can apply to see the trails closest to you or the difficulty levels you think you can handle (ie. Easy, Moderate, Hard….etc) There is a fee based version as well that gives you more features, but I just use the free one.

Sunscreen does not guarantee that you will not get a sunburn, but I am sure I am not the only one who has forgotten the sunscreen or to reapply at times. Please, please, please anyone who is reading this, please remember the sunscreen. Most sunscreen brands tell you to reapply sunscreen after an hour and a half or so. It is important to remember to do that or it will not work and protect your skin. The sunburn you can get on a hike can be some of the most painful ones too. Just thinking about it makes me hurt.

Another item I like to have with me on my hikes is a fitness watch. I have a Samsung Gear Fit. I have a lot of friends who use the FitBit. I don’t have any preferences towards any particular brand, but I do recommend getting one for hiking. It has been very helpful to me to track my miles, calories burned and activity level during the hike. I really like it.

Another lesson we learned the hard way was to allow for plenty of time for the hike. We only have one car and someone needed it to go to work, but we found ourselves on a hike that lasted twice the amount of time it was “supposed” to take. Needless to say, that person was late to work. Uh-oh as my baby niece would say. Was it worth it? Oh yeah! Gorgeous hike and challenging, but we should have allowed more time for it or turned around and cut it short. Hind sight is 20/20.

Some Items we have found very useful on our hikes:

  • First Aid Kit (Walmart sells travel size ones that fit in my Camelbak pocket)
  • Towels in the car for after the hike cleanup
  • Umbrella (mostly for over the baby carrier)
  • Napkins or Toilet Paper for emergencies
  • A Pen (for those random Geocaches you have to get)
  • Camelbaks filled with Ice (The ice will melt and give you water, while helping to keep you cool.)
  • Tennis Shoes you don’t mind getting muddy
  • A Camera Phone for those gorgeous views and before & after hiking shots
  • Baby Carrier or Stroller depending on the trail
  • Change of clothes in the car, if you have children who may need a clean up afterwards.
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
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