It’s Hiking Season
Summer is finally here! The days are long, the sun is shining, and COVID restrictions have been lifted in NJ. With seemingly everyone trying to make up for lost time due to COVID restrictions and protocols being lifted and getting out of their homes, some may be wanting to get outdoorsy. COVID-19 had a massive impact on outdoor activities, and the numbers show that hiking skyrocketed in popularity. According to AllTrails, the number of hikes logged on their app in 2020 was up 171.36% compared to 2019. That’s a massive spike in hikes compared to 2019!
Hiking is a fantastic way to be experience nature, get some fresh air, and a great way to get exercise. The beauty of hiking is that it is so versatile, and there are hikes for people of all skill levels to enjoy. So if you’re looking for a hike with a view, a hike that makes your legs feel like jello, or a relaxing hike, there’s bound to be something for you!
Whether you’ve never hiked before or if you’re an experienced hiker, these tips will have you prepared the next time you decide to go for a hike.
Keep Your Fitness Level in Mind
While it may be tempting to climb the highest mountain top or challenge yourself with a rugged trail, it’s best to start on a more accessible trail. The number one way people get injured while exercising is by doing too much too soon, too fast. So it’s best to start slow before cranking the difficulty of your hike to eleven! Using an app like AllTrails makes it easy to find an appropriate hiking trail for your skill level.
Pack the Essentials
Be prepared for anything! Not being prepared for a hike can be anything from a slight inconvenience or end in a nightmare. No one wants to have a hike ending in getting lost in the woods and having the forage for food in the dark! If you are new to hiking and haven’t had to prepare for a hike before, this list can be a lifesaver.
- First aid kit. Making sure you have a fully stocked first aid kit with you will give you peace of mind if you don’t need it and relieved if you do need it! Be sure to customize your first aid kit and include medications essential to your health, such as an EpiPen if you have allergies or insulin if you have diabetes.
- Navigation. A compass, trail map, and GPS are some things you always want to bring on a hike.
- Sun protection. Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat are great ways to protect yourself from sunburn and keep your skin looking youthful!
- Water. Staying hydrated on a hike and making sure you have enough water is essential. Ensure you bring enough water bottles or bring a CamelBak with you to make sure you have enough water. Carrying a water purification device like a Lifestraw is also a fantastic way to ensure you will have access to clean water.
- Nutrition. Be sure to bring two days’ worth of nutritious, no-cook food with you if you need to camp out overnight.
- Insulation. Pack extra layers, socks, and a waterproof jacket if the temperature gets too cold or in case it rains.
- Illumination. Be sure to bring a backup headlamp or flashlight with you instead of relying solely on your cellphone flashlight.
- A lighter, matches, or a fire starter. Make sure you pack a fire starter with you if you need to start a fire! You don’t want to follow a YouTube video on creating a fire in the woods while you are trying to make a fire in the woods. Trust us!
- Emergency shelter. A tent, space blanket, or tarp can come in handy if you need to camp out in the woods overnight.
- A portable charger for your cell phone. Making sure that you have a way to charge your cell phone while hiking is a huge stress reliever if you need to call for help or use your GPS to navigate out of the woods.
- Bug spray! Pack some bug spray to help ward off ticks and mosquitos.
Bring a Friend
Hiking is a great group activity, but if you can’t get a group together, try to bring at least one friend on the hike with you. Having at least one other person with you on the hike eliminates the risk of being stranded in the woods by yourself if something goes wrong. Also, if you do get stranded in a dire situation, this ensures that one person can always get help.
Share Your Itinerary
Have you ever seen the movie 127 Hours? An avid mountaineer goes hiking at Utah’s Canyonlands National Park; he doesn’t tell anyone where he is going. While climbing a canyon, he loses his footing, falls, and a boulder lands on his arm. He was trapped for 127 hours by himself, no one knowing where he went. While that may sound like a dramatic afterschool 80s PSA, you should always tell someone outside of your hiking party your itinerary in the event something happens.
Stay on the Trail
Staying on the trail is crucial. Veering off-trail increases your chances of getting lost, injured and would make a rescue mission riskier. Going off-trail can also trample vegetation, cause erosion, and be a risk to unsuspecting hikers. If enough hikers go off-trail, it can create what is known as a “social trail,” or unofficial trail. Unsuspecting hikers might get on a social trail and think they are following the marked path, which could cause them to get lost.
Wear Good Shoes and Socks
A good pair of hiking boots and socks can make a world of difference; a pair of water-resistant boots that support your ankles and have a good grip prevents slipping on rocky surfaces. Before going on a hike with your new boots, make sure they fit correctly and break them in by wearing them around the house. Also, be sure to go up half a shoe size when buying hiking boots because hiking can make your feet swell.
In addition to having a good pair of boots, be sure to wear hiking socks. Avoid cotton socks and instead, opt for socks that wick away sweat and keep your feet cool.
We’re Here to Help
If you want to get started hiking, come in for a complimentary physical fitness assessment. We’ll assess your fitness level and help you get started on an exercise plan that’s customized for your fitness level. If you’ve gone hiking and think you may have injured yourself, schedule your appointment by calling (973) 400-3730, so we can help you get back on that trail in no time!