Today, I have a special guest post from my friend Katie from Katie Wanders about her hiking tips for beginner hikers! She is an avid hiker and East Coast girl, just like me. We met in Salt Lake City, but now she’s moved back to the East Coast (at least, for now :)!
Read below for her awesome tips for conquering your first hikes with confidence!
There are so many great hiking blogs. So many places to find inspiration of amazing hikes, daring peaks, and beautiful trails. But sometimes, it all gets a little overwhelming. Sure that 15 mile hike up 5,000′ looks absolutely amazing, and wow that lake is pristine and untouched… but its also not very approachable. At least not for someone new(ish) to the trails. While these spots are amazing for motivation, they are often a little intimidating. So for anyone who wants to get out on that winding dirt trail, but is intimidated by a lot of the big hikes and tales of trails, this post is for you.
When Hilary asked me to guest post on her blog, I was so excited. We both love to hike and be outdoors, and we threw around a few ideas. We are also both East Coasters, used to flat land and a hike more of like a “leisurely stroll through the flat woods on a well marked trail”. When we moved to Utah, we both learned to broaden our horizons, and adapt to the culture of hiking here. Hikes were long, peaks were tough, and the temperature changes were crazy from the city to the peak.
I know I can say for certainty that I had to learn a few hard lessons when it came to hiking. I learned that you never carry as much water as you need and the important of sunscreen and many (many) layers. And so, after joking about all of our little mistakes (like that time I left the city to hike in the Uintas only to find the temperature difference was roughly 40 degrees), the idea of a hiking post for beginners was born.
Enough of the intro, lets get into some great advice so you wont make the same mistakes I did.
1. Keep it short!
We tend to get really ambitious with our hiking plans. But sometimes the best hikes are short and sweet. A quick hike to an awesome spot for a killer sunset, or maybe just a jaunt after work with your dog. It is always a good idea to start small and work your way up. You will never regret a hike being too short but you will definitely regret a hike that was exhausting or took too long. Distance can be a state of mind, too, so sometimes that Sunday hike can feel a lot longer than it really is. Don’t judge yourself by distance – just get out there.
2. Bring a lot of water (and snacks)
Fact: You will always underestimate the amount of water you need… especially in the summer. Bring a lot more water then you think you may need. If you have too much and get sick of the weight, you can always remove some mid hike. It is so important to have enough water, especially in the summer months when I find myself going through water much faster than I imagine. It is also a good idea to bring snacks. If you are tired or your blood sugar is low, a granola bar is a great pick me up. A quick break and chance to chow on some chocolate on the trail (guilt free) is my favorite. Or lunch at the summit always makes a packed sandwich taste so much better. Last but not least, continue drinking water after the hike too. You’ll drink on the trail as you need to, but that’s more of an equalizer than a replacement – and you don’t magically stop losing water once you walk off the dirt.
3. Wear layers
Layers are so important, even for the beginner hiker. You may start off your hike chilly and in ten minutes and a little bit of cardio be warmed up enough to ditch a few layers. And then the second you stop and the wind picks up, you are instantly chilled. Or, if you are hiking to any sort of peak or higher elevation, it will get cold fast.
I always pack a long sleeve mid weight layer, and ALWAYS pack a gloves and hat for any hike to a peak. Layers are key, and usually very light, for being comfortable for any hike. REI’s clearance rack can be a great place to find these – they may not be the most attractive color, but they’ll be heavily on sale and high quality.
4. Be safe!
This may sound extreme, but I think it is important to really take safety into account on your hike. This may mean packing a first aid kit, even if its just a few bandaids and Advil, or a set of tweezer and gauze. Even on a short hike, its a great practice to always carry some kind of a first aid kid. Peace of mind is important and its always a good practice to have a few extra bandaids, a tissue or a wet nap stashed in your bag.
5. Preparation and Planning
Research, weather, seasons and maps. These are all important details to consider regardless of the intensity of the hike you are going on. To be prepared and well planned means a few important things: planning out your hike out in advance, knowing the distance and elevation you are about to cover, and being aware of any wildlife you may encounter (like how to avoid moose, if you are as terrified as me).
Knowing where to park and how to get there is important for arriving at your hike stress free, aware, and prepared. If the trail looks a little confusing, stuff a copy of a map in your sack, and make sure you pack a compass or a cell phone with a full battery. For any new hikers I really recommend being as prepared as possible. Know where you are hiking and know what you need. Less stress is best. And hiking is the ultimate way to relieve stress and enjoy some time in the beautiful outdoors.
Bonus: Have fun!
Activities only work if you have fun doing them, so know your limits and plan accordingly. Length of a hike, calories (food), sights, equipment, and climate are all critical in having a good time. Short hikes are a lot safer and easier if you are just starting out. Building confidence is key and shorter easier hikes are a great way to do it and ensure you have fun
On the day I summited Mount Timpanogos, I passed a gentleman who took 3 days (backpacking and camping overnight) for the same trip I made in a day hike (15 mile round trip hike). He was smart and awesome and I admired him because he knew what was best for him. That was his speed and that’s what he liked. He was one of the happiest, most social hikers I’ve ever met out on the trials, and a model to the point of going your own pace.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Now you have it, some important basics. Apply these tips to any hike and you are well equipped for an awesome adventure. Lots of water, layers, planning and bug spray. Sunscreen and snacks, the proper shoes and safety first.
About the Author
Katie is a 28 year old New England native in love with the water, lobsters, Billy Joel and the outdoors. She spent most of her life wandering around Connecticut, before moving West. She packed up a UHaul with her scuba tanks and saddle, and drove 2,200 miles to Salt Lake City She spent two years in beautiful Utah, working towards her Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Utah. Feeling like a fish out of water so far from the coast, her family and friends, she started hiking to meet new people and exercise with her crazy labrahound. A new passion was born as she spent most of her free time hiking around the American West. She is back on the East Coast for now, working to take her new love of the mountains to the peaks of nearby Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Follow along her blog at Katie Wanders, on Facebook, Instagra