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In 2020, after the beginning of the pandemic, hiking boomed in popularity. People were no longer able to do their normal leisure activities, so they took to the outdoors to get exercise and have fun.
As COVID restrictions continue, many of these hikers are still enjoying the trails. Do you want to become one of them? We’re here to talk about a few beginner hiking mistakes so you can hike safely and have fun.
Read on to learn more.
1. “Go Big or Go Home” Mentality
When you first start hiking, you need to start small. Yes, you’re ambitious, but no one is going to be climbing Kilimanjaro after their first few hiking sessions. Don’t let your ambition be your downfall.
Choose trails that you know that you can handle. It’s good to challenge yourself, but do so slowly. Every time you want to choose a new and difficult trail, consider adding a bit of elevation or an extra half-mile instead of aiming for larger conquests.
There are plenty of types of hiking trails for all skill levels. Start with flat loops and move onto hills and mountains when you know that you’re ready. You’ll be shocked at the difference between hiking a long and flat trail and hiking a short and elevated trail.
There’s nothing worse than making it halfway through a hike and realizing that you’re exhausted. You need to make sure that you’re able to go all the way through. There’s no Uber or Lyft that can pick you up from the middle of a hike!
2. Hiking Alone
This is an important tip for beginners: don’t hike alone. When you have more experience, you can go on hikes without the help of others. At first, try hiking with friends or go on community hiking trips.
When you hike along as a beginner, you’re taking a huge risk. You could end up getting injured or lost, and with no one to help you, this can turn into a disaster.
Hiking with friends is also a lot more fun. You’ll be able to chat while you enjoy the scenery. Your friends may spot wildlife that you’d never have seen on your own.
3. Not Protecting Yourself
Speaking of avoiding injuries by bringing people with you, make sure that you’re staying safe in other ways while you’re hiking. There are plenty of dangers out in the wild, and the longer the hike, the larger the risk.
One thing that every hiker needs is sunscreen. If you don’t want to risk sunburn and skin cancer, you need to protect yourself.
Many people think that sunscreen is only important during the summer, but this isn’t true. You can get a sunburn during any month, even if you’re hiking on a snowy winter day.
It’s good to wear a hat and sunglasses as well.
If you’re hiking in an area that has a lot of insects, wear bug spray. While most insects aren’t dangerous, they can be annoying. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, so make an effort to protect yourself from them.
If you’re going on a longer hike, bring a small first-aid kit. Even having a few bandages and some antibiotic ointment will make a huge difference if you trip and fall during a hike.
4. Getting the Wrong Gear
For short hikes, you can wear almost anything you want as long as it’s weather-appropriate. Once you start going on longer hikes, however, make sure that you wear the right clothing.
Wear either sneakers or boots with good traction. It’s common for there to be more dangerous areas on a hiking trail, even if the trail is well-traveled. While good shoes won’t completely protect you, they’ll reduce your risk of slipping and falling.
High socks can protect you from ticks and poison ivy that’s close to the ground. If you’re worried about getting too warm during your hike due to your socks, pick a breathable fabric.
When it comes to gear, it’s also a good idea to consider what’s going to go in your backpack. Bring a small and light backpack (unless this is a multi-day hike) and fill it with essentials
It’s helpful to have a jacket, your safety items, food and water, and your first-aid kit. Leave a bit of extra room in case you need to remove a layer of clothing because you’re too warm or because you want to go swimming at some point during your hike.
5. Not Bringing Enough Snacks and Water
Speaking of food and water, always bring more than you think that you’ll need (even on short hikes). Good snacks for hikers don’t take up a lot of space and there are plenty of water bottles that can fit into small backpacks.
You want snacks that will give you energy. Bring things like protein bars and trail mix. It’s also a good idea to bring electrolyte tablets or powder so you can stay hydrated.
6. Not Checking the Weather Conditions
So it’s the day of your planned hike and you’re ready to get out on the trails. Sure, it’s sunny and bright now, but is it going to stay that way for the duration of your hike?
The last thing that you want is to be out on the trail when a thunderstorm starts or when the weather gets too hot for you to stay comfortable.
If you still want to hike despite shaky weather conditions, bring extra weather-appropriate clothing for hiking. A jacket with a hood will make a huge difference if you experience an unexpected downpour.
Avoid These Common Beginner Hiking Mistakes
If you want to have a successful hike and eventually work your way up to being a hiking expert, be sure to avoid these beginner hiking mistakes. You want hiking to be an enjoyable experience!
It’s time to start planning your next hike!
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