ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Planning the Perfect Hike

Updated on October 23, 2007
Photo credit: Google Images
Photo credit: Google Images

"I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Henry David Thoreau

Nature's calling, are you ready to answer? If you're in the mood to get away from it all, then I suggest you follow the example of Mr. Thoreau and venture into the solitude and peace of the closest forest or national park. Who knows? When taking the road less traveled and finding your way through the woods, you may just find yourself.

"Into the woods, it's time to go..."

After making a mental commitment to go hiking, consider what type of hike you'd like best. Although there are numerous terrains and locales to explore, not all of them may be for you. For instance, are you the type of hiker that relishes a gradual ascent over rolling hills and crags until you finally reach the precipice and see the world stretched out before you? Or, would you prefer to hike through flat, grassy knolls, following a babbling brook as it dances along the shoreline and towards an elegant end in a silvery waterfall?

Alright, all poetic description aside, my point is this: you should enjoy the journey as much (if not more so) than your final destination. After all, an ideal hike is one where you have time to admire the natural wonders around you. It's a chance for you to savor those things we miss while in our neon-drenched, digitized worlds. Be sure to choose a hike which satisfies your personal needs; read whatever information you can find in guidebooks, tour brochures, and AAA pamphlets. For example, here are a few elements of a hike to take into account when planning:

Altitude

  • If you haven't been hiking in a while, hike at a lower altitude to give your body a chance to adjust.
  • Remember that if you hike during the winter months, higher altitudes will likely have snow, ice, and other forms of precipitation.

Route options

  • Trail conditions
  • Water sources
  • Length and difficulty of the hike
  • Location of established camp sites
  • Weather conditions
  • Any restrictions, rules, and/or permits needed to hike in the area
  • An estimation of how long it will take to complete the hike. Unless you're an experienced hiker or with someone who knows what they're doing, make sure you can finish before sundown.

The folks at Colorado Hiking suggest comparing the gradient of the hike to the speed of one's progress to determine which hike is best for you:

Assuming a person is in reasonably good physical condition, and carrying a five to ten pound pack, the way to calculate the gradient of a hike is to divide the total elevation gain by the associated distance covered. For example, a 5 mile hike (one way) up a mountain with 4000 feet of elevation gain has a gradient of 0.15 (4000 / (5*5280)). Usually one can hike downhill about 20 percent faster than uphill, unless you're tired on your return trip and/or unsure of your footing due to lose rocks and steepness. Whatever you do, be safe; don't push yourself too hard at any point during the hike, and take your time.

"The way is clear, the light is good; I have no fear..."

Once you've visualized your ideal setting, use any and all available resources to make your fantasy a reality. As I've said earlier, AAA brochures and other guidebooks and Websites make excellent starting points; you can often find lists of national parks and other outdoor preserves that are just a short drive away. It's best if you find some place nearby because you probably won't have a very good hike if you're upset about how much money you shoved in your gas tank.

"Into the woods without regret; the choice is made, the path is set..."

When considering what things to pack for a hike, it is important to again think about your specific needs. In general, you should have a lot of water or some other hydration available, as it will refresh and greatly help you on your journey. Snacks are also a must, especially for long hikes. Remember, just like your car needs to guzzle gas to keep running, so too do you need nutritional fuel to keep your engine in tip-top condition (make sure to keep things in Ziploc bags so they don't get wet or gooey).

Here is a list of some other basic items to help get you started:

* Backpack

* Ground cloth/ something to sit on

* Water filter

* Matches

* First Aid kit

* Chapstick (especially if it is cold, windy, and above all, really dry)

* Flashlight

* Toiletries (unless you like the idea of communing with nature via large leaves)

* Maps, Compass, or GPS: Although some form of a map is always essential, knowing how to read one, and knowing its limitations is just as important. If you get lost, it is usually suggested to stay put and let yourself be rescued, but really, it's your choice. Ask yourself the following: How lost are you? Are you alone? If you're alone, when's the last time you saw someone else? What's the terrain like? How much light do you have left in the day? What's the weather forecast? Remember, every situation is different, so go with what you think is right after evaluating all your options.

* Appropriate attire:

Hiking Boots should be waterproof or have a waterproof breathable lining to keep your feet dry and comfortable. They also need a sturdy, lugged rubber outsole, and offer you adequate, all-round protection. Keep in mind that while hiking boots are lighter than ever thanks to technological advances, they will still probably be the heaviest shoes you own.

Hiking shoes are perfect for short day hikes that don't require as much support or stability. Don't attempt to backpack in hiking shoes. Lightweight, low-profile shoes with traction outsoles give you speed on the trail without sacrificing any of your footing. Remember, these shoes are more flexible than a hiking boot, but less flexible than a running shoe.

  • It's always wise to bring a waterproof jacket with you on a hike, especially if the weather is fickle. Trust me on this one, staying dry is a big part of remaining comfortable. I once hiked in Yosemite when a sudden downpour soaked every inch of my clothing... I was not happy.
  • Layer Up! Dressing in layers is a must. Although your body warms as you hike and you'll probably shed a layer or two as you're walking, higher altitudes mean lower temperatures, so you're going to want to put that jacket back on later.
  • Wear pants; poison oak/ivy and other natural irritants are not pleasant.
  • Carrying a whistle is also good if someone in your party is injured, gets lost, or if you need to make noise to scare a wild animal.

So, into the woods without delay, but careful not to lose the way. Into the woods, who knows what may be waiting on your journey?

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Chang Merrell 

      9 years ago

      I love your post and will continue reading your site everyday. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Hiking Flashlight Enthusiast 

      10 years ago

      Thanks for the great hub! When you mention "Maps, compass, or GPS", I'd probably change that to "Maps, compass, AND GPS." Getting lost would be no fun at all. Some for of redundance it always a good safeguard (GPS could fail--compass could break or get lost).

      I'd also suggest that you take more than one high quality flashlight. Again, redundance is very important and your flashlight at night could be a matter of life or death.

      Thanks again,

      Robert

    • bluerabbit profile image

      bluerabbit 

      10 years ago

      Great article. Lots of useful tips.

    • profile image

      Richard Jeffrey 

      10 years ago

      Makes me want to put on.... mymymymymy...Boogie Shoes!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)