I am not a hiking expert. I am training for a six-day hike in the Austrian Alps. To prepare, I have had many conversations with experienced hikers who have offered useful information for my local hikes. I hope that this information will translate to what I need to know for the Alps.
As it turns out, some of you out there are actually reading my blog and watching me on Facebook. I like this. Thank you. You are telling me that you want to hike or you want to CrossFit or you want to know more about this Paleo thing. You don't really understand everything that I am doing but you want to know more and want to know how. Again, I am not an expert. What I will offer you here is a compilation of basics that I follow for myself.
A Quick List of Hiking Basics for Dione
Don't be ignorant. Our first hike was actually the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii. We were not prepared in the least. That, my friends, will be an entirely different blog entry. Let's just say that we didn't do anything on this list. Not one thing. You are already one step ahead of us because you are here reading this. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Question asking is good.
Know your hike. Research your hike and know your trail. Know your elevation. Go to your local hiking store (like Adventure 16 or R.E.I.) and pick up a map that details the route and the elevation of your intended hike. Bring this map with you on the hike. While the map will be general, it will help you to be familiar with the layout and distance of the trail as well as how quickly the elevation changes. Sometimes the trail head will have a kiosk where you can pick-up a more detailed map for you specific hike.
Eat before you even think about stepping on the trail. You will need the energy. Then eat again while you are on the trail. Eat goods things that give you good energy like meats, veggies, fruits, hard boiled eggs, nuts. We usually eat something on the way then plan a lunch destination as part of the hike. This spot is usually the highest point on the trail.
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate! I personally bring 100 oz of water on my hike (thanks, CamelBak!) and have found that I tend to run out at about 4 1/2 hours. You will find your own personal level of hydration. But, if you wait until you are thirsty to drink your water then you are already too late. Keep drinking it down. Your hydration is key in cooling your body so that you don't overheat. It runs through you and it cleanses your pours. It also help flush out toxins that would impede your joints. Non-impeded joints are a good thing when hiking.
Stretch. Stretch your hamstrings and whatever ails you before you hit the trail. I don't do this part very well.
Be aware. Take it upon yourself to become familiar with what you should be aware of while you are hiking. These things could be rattle snakes, mountain lions, ticks and poison ivy/oak. Be able to identify these things when you see them. This is important and is your responsibility to yourself. Do not rely on others to convey this information to you.
Don't go off the trail. Since you are new to hiking, you will want to stay on the trail. Do not venture off of it. People get lost and/or hurt this way. It's real simple. Don't be that person.
Leave no trace. You come out to nature to get away from the city. If you didn't want to enjoy the beauty of it then you would hike Figueroa through downtown Los Angeles. So, please, leave no trace of yourself out here. Any litter that you create should be tucked away into your backpack to go home with you for disposal at a later time. There should not be a trace of your plastic bottles, energy bar wrappers or broken shoe laces anywhere on the trail.
Let go and Enjoy. Afford yourself the opportunity to breath deeply and enjoy your organic environment while you are out here. Fully immerse yourself in your senses. Let go of all those daily things that grind you down. Practice letting go by sucking up what nature has to offer. Love it. Respect it. And it will be there for you the next time you need it.
I average about two hikes per week. At least one of those is with my loving husband, Garrett. The others are usually with a good friend like Heather or Lizzie. Sometime soon I hope to get my beagle out there on the trails on which she would be allowed. I also look forward to including many other persons on our hikes who are open to the challenge. I have included everything that I can think of for me at this point in my training. If you think of anything else please post it here. Your comments are welcome!