Being One with Nature: Dos and Don’ts of Hiking
In this era of smartphone companies churning out new models by the minute and social networking sites and apps mushrooming by the second, it may be hard to imagine that there’s an activity that allows you to tune out from the modern world ( only temporarily) and be one with nature: hiking.
Outdoor enthusiasts look forward to this activity whenever they can although they may have different reasons for loving it—some long for the relaxing fresh air or the breathtaking scenery, while some long for the exercise that goes along with it. Whatever the reason is, there’s no denying its ever-growing popularity across all cultures that one Canadian retailer specializing in outdoor recreational gear and clothing found itself in hot water recently for allegedly targeting a limited audience with their advertising and marketing campaigns (the company has since apologized and vowed to make changes).
Hiking is an activity that is open to anyone who enjoys partaking in nature sightseeing and getting much-needed physical exercise at the same time. One can be as young as a toddler or as old as 82 (like Dale Sanders who became the oldest person to hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail within a year). It’s always good to start young as long as you keep these tips handy for a safe hiking:
Do plan the hike carefully.
If you’re a beginner hiker, it’s best to work with adults who are veteran hikers. They can best choose the right trail which is ideal for young hikers. For example, the scenic West Coast Trail in Vancouver Island has a rough terrain that calls for crossing rivers and walking on slippery hills and uneven paths, so this is best left for the seasoned hikers. Meanwhile, the Pointe-Taillon National Park, Quebec Park is an ideal choice for novice hikers like you since it offers minimum elevation changes. One other very important thing to do is ALWAYS tell someone where you are going and what time. If you were ever to get lost and no one knew where you were, it could turn out very badly.
Do pack wisely.
Be smart about the provisions you bring for the day! Keep a light first aid kit handy as it’s better to be safe than sorry. As for the food, keep in mind that it must be easy to prepare or requires minimal or no preparation, must not need to be refrigerated, and must remain intact all throughout (so a slice of blueberry cheesecake is out of the question because it would not hold up during a hike). Some recommend making your very own homemade trail mix consisting of healthy chips or crackers, nourishing dried fruits, and nutritious nuts like cashews or almonds. And of course, bring enough water to avoid dehydration during the hike.
Don’t think that nature is always your friend.
Another one good reason why hiking is a great way to pass the time is the Instagram-worthy views that you’ll encounter. Who doesn’t want a selfie when you’re in magnificent spot like the BANFF? However, nature can turn into your worst enemy if you aren’t careful. Canada for one boasts of dangerous foliage and flora like the infamous Poison Ivy so be aware of what you may face during the hike. Some are even like a sheep in wolf’s clothing like the wild parsnip which has lovely yellow flowers that form a flat-topped umbrella-esque cluster—they are pretty to look at, but underneath they can turn a nice time into a nightmare, giving you itchy, red blisters upon touch.
Beginners’ hiking trails can vary in distance—some may be just under two hours, some may be more. Whatever it is, know that hiking may be a physical activity, but there’s no need to rush yourself as if you are running the marathon. Take your time in walking through the path and remember that you’re out in nature, so take in the breathtaking views for as long as you like. It’s cliché, but yes, a hike is the best time to stop and smell the roses.
So now that you know essential do’s and don’ts in hiking, are you ready for your first hike?