Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities loved by kids and adults alike. It not only lets you spend time with nature and your family but also serves as a great exercise for those who need it. But there’s a common misconception about hiking that it’s only about walking outside. Like a mere walk in the park. And that is not true at all.
People can make mistakes and find themselves in a problematic situation. Sometimes hikers don’t bring enough water and emergency gear with them. They get lost and are ill-prepared for the weather. That is why it doesn’t take long for a short fun hike to take a turn for the worse.
But these common mistakes are preventable. Planning ahead and doing some research can help you better prepare yourself. Plus, knowing your stuff before you begin hiking will always ensure a successful trip.
Let’s take a look at 5 common hiking mistakes that you’re making without even realizing it.
1. Choosing a trail beyond your physical ability
Know your body and your limitation. Most of us think of hiking as a way to get our workout, which is fine for the most part. But hiking on trails that are beyond your physical ability is not something any hiker should do. You’ll only make way for a disaster to take place especially if it’s your first time hiking.
Make sure to set a time limit. Pay attention to the degree of difficulty of the trail you choose. You don’t want to put your body under too much stress by trying to cover the entire distance for a limited time. Take it slow. Increase the length of time of your hike and intensity of your chosen trail only after your body is ready. This way you won’t compromise your safety.
Do not rush into doing strenuous trails right away. If you’re not prepared to cope with the physical and mental stress, it can be disastrous. And it might even put your life in danger.
2. Forgetting the essentials
Anything can happen when you’re out hiking. The weather might change without any warning. You might encounter some wild animals or you get lost. Some if not most are beyond your control and it’s best if you come prepared for these surprises that may come your way.
Here are some must-have essentials to bring:
- Map and compass are very important for directions.
- Enough food and water plus some extras to cover the entire trail and back.
- First aid kit is a must for any untoward incident
- Flashlight with batteries
- A layer of clothes for unpredictable weather
You can read this “The Modern Hiking Essentials” article if you want to learn more about must-have hiking essentials.
3. Wearing the wrong shoes
Good quality hiking boots are an investment. What you wear on your feet can make or break a hiking trip. Your feet support your entire body so it’s crucial to have the proper footwear when you go on a hike. Hiking in flip flops, open toe shoes, high heels are a definite no-no. This type of footwear is not designed for hiking. It can cause blisters, twisted ankles, discomfort, pain, and even injury.
You should instead choose hiking boots that are sturdy and well-fitted. The right hiking footwear must also have built-in quality material that can last long. Also, don’t use a new pair for your hike the very next day after you buy them. Make sure that you break it in before you set off as it can lead to blistering and scarring.
4. Forgetting to let people know your whereabouts
Whether you’re hiking solo or not, it is very important to let someone know your hiking itinerary. Make sure your phone has its battery charged up to 100%. Don’t forget to leave a copy of the trail map in your car. And make sure to send a message once you get back from your hike to let people know that you’ve returned.
It’s always a good idea to have a hiking buddy with you for practical safety reasons. It can save you a lot of trouble especially if you’re new and inexperienced. That way, if one of you gets injured, there’s always somebody else to help.
5. Feeding wild animals
Sometimes we get carried away and feed wild animals we encounter on the trail. But this habit might be doing them more harm than good as it changes their foraging habits. They might associate people with food and cause them to be more aggressive in the long run.
Always make sure to store your food in sealed containers and avoid sharing your food. Also, don’t leave leftovers or food scraps along the trail. Make sure you take them back with you along with your trash. Leave nothing on the trail.
There are many important things to consider especially when you’re a newbie on the trail. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, there’s still always a chance you’ll make a mistake. But with time and experience, you’ll be able to discern the good from the bad. And you’ll learn that most of these mistakes are preventable and will figure out ways on how to avoid them.
Lastly, if you want to get in shape for your next hiking trip. Then don’t forget to check out our blog post about “5 Ways To Get In Shape For Hiking“. You’ll love it!