How to make the most of your mountain hiking experience

““I’m cold, I’m tired and I’m hungry!” are the most common complaints heard out on the hiking trails. It’s called whining. Many children and adults have been ruined by parents and friends who pushed them too hard on hikes. What is the hurry? The whole idea behind hiking is to get to your destination no matter how slow or fast you walk.

Of course, this can change just as fast as the unpredictable weather in the mountains, when it comes time to book it to safety. Don’t believe what they tell you about lightning, because it can strike anywhere, randomly. So, slow down and enjoy the view. Don’t get cocky out where the rubber meets the rock; rather, enjoy discovering the powerful gift of Nature that is hard for mere mortals to comprehend. Always remember that you are in a wild place where wild things can happen.

Once our eager hiker develops the right attitude for the walk, because it can be torturous, it is important to have a nice, organized day pack. Besides a ton of food, here is a list of things I always take in my pack: small compass, TP (in a zip lock bag) pen and paper, lightweight emergency rain poncho, water bottle, camera, first aid kit, lip balm, sunscreen, tweezers (in case the dog gets into a porcupine), lighter, insect repellent and a pocket knife. Never enter the woods without two essentials, a pocket knife and lighter. Make the most out of technology. A simple thing like a space blanket can save your life. It can serve as a covering for a shelter and keep condensation off a sleeping bag. A wet sleeping bag can lead to hypothermia. The space blanket can be worn as a cloak and will repel water and snow in the worst of situations. So will a large plastic trash bag with slits cut for the head and arms.

Clothing is a big deal on the trail, and hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants can afford more protection from bugs, exposure and chaparral. Only fools venture into brushy country in shorts. Shorts may be fine for high altitude and trails, but when it comes to cross country, pants can save your legs from getting thrashed. The same can be said for good hiking boots that protect the ankle. Too many people have slipped and fallen in tennis shoes, and boots can make the difference between life and death.

Blisters have really ruined many a hiking trip.  Should that happen, have some moleskin to apply over the area.  Cut a piece in a square or rectangle big enough to fit over your heel.  Then, cut a circle in the middle the same size as the blister.  Place the moleskin with the hole over the blister, and you are good to go.  You can even put a bandage over the hole for extra protection.  Some people tape their heel before going hiking to avoid blisters.

There is no doubt about it-hiking is difficult! It’s killer and never gets easier as one advances in age. The heart rate always gets up, as sweat pours down the hiker’s face. The heat draws the pesky mosquitoes, making it difficult to stop and relax. As the legs tire and you gasp for breath, it takes mental fortitude to keep plodding along. Then you stop and rest a little, get up, and do it again, over and over for thousand of steps, many miles of brutal rock, steep terrain and exposure. It’s the kind of thing that can put a goofy-looking grin on a hiker’s face.

Once the adventurer begins to get comfortable and look around, things start happening. In seconds it can go from dead quiet to the riotous presence of life. Birds, insects, deer and squirrels seem to pop up everywhere. There is no end to the righteous meadows, trees and flowers along the creeks. The geology becomes intoxicating in its variety of colors, layers, glaciation, folding and faulting. Things get real big in the mountains and one begins to feel small and insignificant beneath the mighty peaks. The more a person begins to tune into nature and examine things more closely, the more curious one becomes to learn the names of things.

Hiking never gets boring because there is always something new to see and experience. When people bond with the land, they will grow to love, respect and protect it. So enter the woods with a good head, have no fear, be prepared (know first aid), mellow out, take it easy and never take risks. Thumbs down to people who talk about taxes and business out on the trail. Leave that trash at the trailhead along with the cell phone. It probably won’t work out there anyway. If you really want to get primitive, leave your watch. Whatever you do, never forget your toothbrush on overnighters. Several days of mung-mouth could cause a divorce.

Lastly, while you are out hiking, take a moment to give thanks that you are able to enjoy nature in all its glory.

2 Responses to “How to make the most of your mountain hiking experience”

  1. john Says:

    I really enjoy your articals

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