Hiking For The Pure Fun Of It
For some, it started on a family vacation to some town in the backcountry when to keep themselves occupied for the whole eight-hour drive, their parents or family members must have handed them a copy of Backpacking: One Step at a Time. Or it could be that they’ve been doing it for so long it was hard to remember a time when they haven’t been strapping on boots and walking for miles in the wild outdoors.
Whatever’s the case, one thing is certain: We go hiking for only one reason. And that reason is to enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.
You always recognize a first time hiker the minute you see him or her approach, hobbling under at least 50 pounds on the back (for a two-night trip!) comprised of a backcountry pack that is the equivalent of the Beverly Hillbillies’ flatbed, a 10-pound tent, a pair of running shoes, a dozen bagels, and lots more watchamaccallits which he insists might come in handy during the trip.
It’s an amusing picture, to be sure, but true for almost every hardened backcountry veteran out there the first time they started hiking. Not to worry though. If you’re one of the newbies to hiking, it won’t take long for you to put enough miles on the boots. As time goes, you’ll find yourself picking up some decent sense of fine-tuning your art along the way, until your pack finally no longer resembles a truck and you no longer carry nearly as many bagels.
In the meantime, here are some hiking tips and advice for you live by before you decide to learn under Experience when your degree from On-the-Trail University.
That’s what hiking is all about. Sure, there are a number of reasons why you put on those boots, but in the end, all of that boils down to one thing – fun. Without that, then it’s not worth it. Who wants to endure so much the hardships of hiking when all they get out of it are countless bug bites and maybe a few scrapes here and there? If it wasn’t fun, would anyone even bother?
So take this advice: have fun. Take your time. Watch a cloud form. Breathe the air. The number one rule in the woods is “No Stress.” Breaking that rule is not an option.
Just because hiking is fun doesn’t mean that you can forget about safety all together. Remember: this is the outdoors. Anything could happen. Ill-preparedness is the cause of too many backcountry disasters and near-misses. Inadequate clothing, lack of route-finding ability, bad judgment calls – all of these have led to life-threatening situations in hiking.
The best way to be prepared while backcountry hiking is knowing what conditions you’re going into. Once you do, figure out a way to deal with them and pack accordingly. You may also inquire at park management who could give you valuable advice on local conditions and permitting procedures.
Know Your Equipment
Being a trail dork isn’t so bad, especially if your life is on the line. And knowing which insulation your sleeping bag uses doesn’t ruin your “cool” image in anyway if it turns out a storm is brewing and the night is going to be most likely freezing cold.
Knowing your equipment is always a good idea because your gear may well be called upon to save your life one day.
Age is just a number