By Guest Blogger Scott M.
Hiking Tips for Beginners
The fresh air, the cool breeze during a hot summer day, and a shady spot to watch the sun´s shadows dance in the valley below you: this is what most of us dream about when we imagine a day of hiking through Nature. However, without the right preparation, your hiking trip might be better defined by swollen knees, clouds of mosquitoes, and soggy hiking boots.
For those people who are new to the world of hiking, it is important to understand that enjoying a quality hike takes much more preparation than simply lacing up the old hiking boots and driving to the nearest trailhead. Below you´ll find four simple tips to help you find ways to motivate yourself to get into the wilderness and enjoy a perfect hike.
Why Should You Hike?
Everyone knows that our bodies need exercise. The sedentary lives that we live have led to several dangerous health conditions ranging from obesity to diabetes. Hiking offers an opportunity not only to exercise, but also to enjoy moments of physical exertion. Recent evidence has shown that people find exercise while being in Nature as more enjoyable and less physically draining.
In addition, taking regular hikes offers an opportunity to reduce your stress levels and improve your overall mental health. When you go to the gym for a quick workout, chances are that you´re carrying a load of problems with you as you simply try to make it to your goal on the treadmill. When you´re hiking through the woods, however, it´s much easier to allow your problems to temporarily disappear as you regain perspective of the most important things of life.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, hiking allows us to regain contact with the natural world of which we are a part. In our industrial and consumer culture, meaningful contact with Nature has become a rarity at best. Our lives are lived within the confines of manufactured housing, cement streets, and air conditioned offices. Escaping from these man-made environments for a short hike into the wilderness allows us to rediscover our ultimate belonging to the natural world which holds us.
Four Tips to Motivate You to Get Off the Couch and Into the Wild
If you are ready to start enjoying the benefits of hiking, it is important to plan ahead. One disastrous hiking trip can turn you off to hiking for years to come. Just as you wouldn’t try to scale Everest on your first outdoors trip, so should you also take the necessary time to ease yourself into the world of hiking so that it becomes an enjoyable, lifelong pursuit.
This first bit of advice, should be common sense. If you aren´t a proficient hiker, don’t try to complete a 20 mile day hike on your first go. Even for people who are in fairly decent shape, a 3 to 4 mile round trip hike will make you feel the physical exertion. Also, be sure to trust the trail ratings that describe a particular hike. If the hike is listed as strenuous, you might want to opt for a shorter “moderate” hike or a slightly longer hike that has been rated as “easy.”
Find a Place that You´ll Love
If you hate the heat and the burning sun, your first hike probably shouldn’t be in Death Valley National Park. Similarly, if you dislike the wind and cold, you should probably avoid trying to hike to some bald knob or mountain top. Think about what type of natural environment you most enjoy, and search for a hike that will take you through that natural setting. This will make your initial experience with hiking enjoyable and gratifying.
Couple Hiking with Some Other Activity You Love
One of the best parts of hiking is that you can combine a hike with some other activity that you enjoy. If, for example, you enjoy photography, there is no better place to practice your photography skills than while hiking through some beautiful, natural area. If you enjoy writing poetry, take a pen and paper along with you in your backpack and hike until you find the perfect spot to give you the inspiration you need.
Don´t Go Alone
While the ability to find deep peace and solace while hiking alone through the woods is definitely one of the privileges of hiking, you should probably invite other people along during your first couple of hikes. Having other people near you can help to alleviate some of the potential drawbacks and difficulties that a hiking trip might unexpectedly bring. Save the solo trips for when you feel more comfortable and proficient with hiking.
The Transformation that Hiking Will Bring into Your Life
After a couple positive hiking trips, you most likely will begin to feel healthier, more relaxed, and more centered on the important things in life. You will also find that every weekend you´ll be searching for new places to explore and discover. To help plan another great hiking trip, check out LiveOnceLiveWild.com, which has quality complete guides to some of the best national parks our country has to offer.
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