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9 Hiking Tips and Tricks for Beginners!
Hiking is, to some people, no different from taking a stroll through the park. But in reality, hiking is so much more than that: It is an invigorating process of seeking out a path that allows you to be engulfed by the beauty of Mother Nature. A path that YOU choose, and decide that YOU want to conquer. Beyond that, hiking also offers a myriad of health benefits including:
As you can see, hiking can be an extremely rewarding outdoor activity. But it can prove to be physically and mentally demanding for the uninitiated (and even veterans!). And while there are no ‘life-hacks’ that lets you breeze through this particular challenge, there are a few tips and tricks that can make things much easier and efficient for someone who’s just discovered the wonderful world of hiking.
#1. Don’t over-rely on your phone:
Many people would think that in this age of technology, having a smartphone is all they need to survive anywhere. After all, it’s a compass, GPS, alarmwatch and more built into one! This is actually a common misconception, however, as there will be times that you find yourself in situations where the GPS can’t get an accurate read on your location AND your phone battery is draining away at the speed of light thanks to all the applications you have open. Therefore, instead of virtual apps, it is advisable to bring along their physical counterparts such as watch alarms, torchlights and compasses to conserve your phone battery’s lifespan for emergency uses only.
#2. Learn to read a map:
This point is similar to the first but it’s important enough to warrant a separate mention: For your own sake, LEARN TO READ A MAP. Seriously, it can save your life. Like earlier-mentioned, you won’t always be getting a strong GPS signal. And even then, your trusty Google Map won’t tell you much about your immediate terrain and any obstacles that may block your way down the road such as lakes and hills - a map will. Last but definitely not least, a map is something you can rely on even when - touch wood - something happens to your phone. And when out there on the trail, anything can happen.
#3. Do some research:
Before diving headfirst into that jungle trek, read up more about it. What’s the average temperature there? Will you need sunscreen? Is it going to rain a lot? Will there be any sort of elevation on the trail? What about leeches (yes, leeches)? All these preparations may seem tedious, but they will make sure that on the actual day you are able to enjoy your hike to its fullest!
#4. Know your limits: If you have a history of asthma, or perhaps a knee condition, do yourself a favor and don’t push yourself too hard. Take regular breaks, drink lots of water, and most importantly, pay close attention to what your body is telling you. Remember, safety is always first when engaging in any outdoor activity.
#5. Hike at your own pace: Are you panting as you walk? Or if you are hiking with a group, are you able to walk and talk at the same time? If the answer is no to any of these questions, it means your body is lacking oxygen and is unable to function properly. In other words, slow down.
#6. FUEL UP:
And not just when you feel hungry or thirsty, as that means your body is already malnourished/dehydrated. When on the hike, make sure to eat and drink regularly (as often as hourly on particularly long ones) as it is THE best defence against exhaustion and sickness.
#7. Bring ziplock bags:
In fact, bring plenty of them! Nothing beats the versatility of ziplock bags on a hike - you can use them to store food to prevent mice from getting to them, or to pack your clothes into neat and compact sizes. They can also be used to separate any leaking product from the rest of your gear. Finally, you can use them as trash bags to dispose of your wastes sanitarily instead of stuffing them back into your daypack, or - God forbid - left on the trail.
#8. Watch your weight:
And no, we don’t mean the number on your weighing scale - when hiking, it is always a good idea to bring along as little weight as possible in terms of your gear and other essentials. That means sourcing for the lightest pocket torchlights, towels, hiking poles and the backpacks themselves when doing your pre-hike preparation shopping (look out for waist straps on your backpacks, as these are fantastic for taking the bulk of the pack’s load, relieving stress on your shoulders).
#9. Have FUN!:
Your attitude during the hike plays a big part in your overall enjoyment of the process, to say the least. And if you’re hiking with others, staying positive goes a long way in keeping the atmosphere light and friendly. So just banish any gripes and negative thoughts, and just enjoy the hike for what it is: A healthy challenge and a pleasant getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Before long, you will find yourself at the end of the trail, beaming with pride at your accomplishment (and rightfully so)!
Hiking, as a recreational activity, is really one-of-a-kind. It's a fantastic form of exercise, and provides an unparalleled, au naturel experience with Mother Nature. It may seem daunting to delve into at first, but with just a little know-how anyone will be able to enjoy this tremendously rewarding venture! And we truly say this from the bottom of our hearts!