Hiking is one of those rare activities that practically all of us can do. Provided you have a good pair of shoes, a sense of adventure, and a willingness and flexibility to roll with potentially unplanned circumstances, you’re ready to go for your first hike!
Of course, there is at least a little more to the story than that. There are tons of decisions you can make about a hike you’d like to take, and some of the decisions range from the mundane, while others are much more serious (and potentially more life-altering).
Below, I’ll describe in additional detail some hiking tips for beginners. Don’t worry if you feel inexperienced and completely novice before your first hike; that’s natural! We were all beginners at something at least once in our lives, and it’s through our experiences that we grow as individuals.
Some hiking tips for beginners include the following:
Have a conversation: with yourself. Before you step foot outside on your hike, I can’t stress it enough that you really ought to have a conversation with yourself. You’ve decided you want to go on a hike, and that’s great! Congratulations! Before you begin planning, though, have a conversation with yourself to help you figure out exactly what you want to accomplish from your hike. Do you want to be challenged, for example, or would you prefer to do something that’s more accessible and easy? Do you want to go somewhere that’s familiar to you, or would you prefer to go somewhere off the beaten path? Is this going to be a solo effort, or do you want others to come alongside you? Once you have this internal conversation -- and if it helps, definitely consider taking notes and making pros/cons charts to help you arrive at your decisions -- you’ll be able to advance in your decision-making and planning processes. It may seem odd to be spending so much time essentially in your own head, but I really do think it’s worthwhile. If nothing else, it’ll help ensure that you’re planning appropriately for your big adventure.
Start doing some research. Once you have some answers in your pocket about the type of hike you’d like to go on, hit the internet and do your research. Particularly if you’re doing a hike that’s far from home and many months away, you may find that you have to make some permit and/or lodging reservations months in advance. If you’re hiking locally, this likely won’t apply to you. It can be helpful to talk to experienced hikers, too, and glean from their wisdom and recommendations. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions here; we were all new once!
Train for it. Depending on the type of hike you’ll be doing, and how far into the future you’re going to do it, you may find that it’s important that you do some actual hiking, or hike-training, in advance of your big one. Training could include going on actual hikes with your gear -- more on that in a minute -- and it may even include some weight-training as well. Particularly if you’re training for your hike with not a very strong fitness background, it’ll behoove you to start early to ensure that you’ll be physically capable of completing your hiking adventure goal.
Talk to your physician. Related to my point above about training for your hike, it’ll also behoove you to talk to your medical provider about your plan. If you haven’t had a physical in a long time, getting one before your adventure is a good idea simply to ensure that you’re in good health (or good enough health) to complete the journey and that your physician has given you his/her blessing. It may seem like overkill, but I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Practice with your stuff. Particularly if you’re going to be doing a strenuous hike that will necessitate that you carry your stuff with you, it’ll be important for you to try it all out in advance of your big day. In doing so, you may find that your boots don’t fit as well as you’d like, or that you’re allergic to the sunscreen you were planning to use, or that your pack chafes you in a weird way. It’s much better to find that out in advance of the big day than it is to learn it for the first time when you’re by yourself in the middle of nowhere.
Be patient, and have a ton of fun! Finally, when you’re doing this for the first time, it’s important to remember that this is something that you’ve chosen to do. That said, it should be fun! Try not to stress out too much over the details and particulars, and keep your eyes on the big(ger) prize at hand: the experience of a lifetime. Things probably won’t go smoothly -- there will likely be at least something that goes awry -- but that’s ok. In fact, I’d argue that that’s part of the fun! Be patient and roll with it. It’ll just become part of your experience.
With these tips in hand, you’ll be ready to take your first hike in no time. You’ll be so glad you did, too! The world is waiting for you out there; go find it.
AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
A certified hiker and runner. Doing at the intersection of minimalism and sustainability to craft an inspiring, compelling and authentic brand narrative. Let's design a world that's thoughtful, considered and aesthetically pleasing. She also writes reviews and recommendations on Runnerclick, ThatSweetGift, NicerShoes and GearWeAre.