Should I Go Hiking Today?
Whether you are a backwoodsman, a couch potato, or a city slicker, sometimes we wake up in the morning with a longing to get out of the house and into the wilderness.
And why not? There is no better way to answer the call of the wild than throwing on a pair of boots and heading out for a hike. We have an article on why a hike is so relaxing here
In this article, we will suggest some questions to ask yourself before hiking today. Answering them will ensure that you get maximum enjoyment and safety from your adventure. Let’s dive in!
You may already have a hike planned and are wondering if you should go or stay in bed. This article will also be helpful for you.
Do I know Where I am Going?
Around 2000 lost Hikers have to be rescued in the USA every year and almost every single one of these cases was completely avoidable!
“Getting lost is rarely enjoyable and can be very stressful not to mention dangerous”
If you are heading out for a hike with little preparation, it´s a good idea to stick to a route that:
- You know well.
- You know to be well signposted.
- You have a trusted hiking partner or guide who knows the way.
- You have previously planned and have all the navigation equipment (map, compass, etc) on hand
Routes on unknown terrain can take several hours or even days of planning and preparation. If you have just made the call to go for a hike today then follow the K.I.S.S principle… Keep It Simple Stupid!
Do I have The Right Equipment For The Hike?
Every hike like every hiker is unique and so is the equipment that you require.
1-day hikes only require a few essential items whereas multi-day treks can require carrying a whole range of clothing, food, accommodation, and equipment.
On one of our many adventures, we bumped into an old Scottish mountain man who taught us this quote…
“It is better to be looking at it than looking for it”
Basically; Being prepared for all outcomes can be much better than wishing that you had brought something.
On even the most basic of one-day hikes, it is worth packing a backpack with some essentials.
Read on to find out what we always bring with us…
- Food – Getting “hangry” is no joke. Completely running out of energy can lead to disorientation, headaches, and in the worst-case scenarios, emergencies. Bring food, and always pack more than you think you will need.
- Water – Like food, dehydration can lead to a host of issues such as cramps. Although there may be spring water or taps on the hike these sources can be unreliable. As a rule of thumb, on mild days you should be looking to drink around 4 ounces (115ml) of water every 10-15 mins. The amount should be doubled in heat or high humidity.
- Extra Clothing – We recommend taking a variety of layers with you. One of which being waterproof unless you are positive there will be no rain. Light breathable fabric is best and a spare pair of socks is always handy just in case.
- First aid/ Skincare pack – Having a small pack with sunscreen, plasters, blister care, antiseptic, and a space blanket
- Navigation – A map, compass, GPS device, or a smartphone (network dependant) can be extremely useful.
- Headlamp or flashlight – Check the batteries before you leave and bring spares.
- Hip Flask with some good scotch – Ok ok, not an essential but always welcomed.
- Swiss army knife or similar.
TOP TIP: It can be worth investing in a backpack specifically for hiking that contains all of your minimum requirements. This can save a lot of running around the house searching for gear on the morning of a hike.
TOP TIP 2: Remember to take your half-eaten sandwich out of the said bag before leaving it in the cupboard for 6 months…..
Is The Weather Appropriate For My Hike?
The best possible weather for hiking is warm (70-80F) and sunny. Preferably with high visibility and a gentle breeze, with no storms, rain, high winds, or snow in the forecast.
Modern weather forecasting sites such as Accuweather can be fairly precise when it comes to predicting what you will come across on your hike. These are the most accurate if you are checking the site on the day that you plan to go.
If the weather is not looking ideal, you do not have the right equipment or are unsure about the ability of members in your group it is much better to save the hike for another day or to adapt the route to suit.
Mountain weather more than anywhere else can be unpredictable! Especially as hikers travel through different altitudes, air pressures, and weather systems.
Conditions can, and often do change quickly, catching unprepared hikers out.
Bad weather can bring issues such as
- Low visibility.
- Sudden temperature rises and drops.
- Snow covering trails.
- Fallen trees.
- The rapid rise of rivers and streams.
- loss of grip on the trail.
- Lightening strikes
If you are going out hiking today, ensure that you, along with everyone else are happy with the weather and have all the appropriate clothing/ equipment.
Do Others Know That I´m Going Hiking?
Before heading out into the mountains for a hike either by yourself or with a group, it´s a great idea to let friends and family know your plans.
We always send a good friend or family member a quick message. Detailing our approximate route, leaving time, and expected time of finishing. We then update them either on the route or once we have safely finished.
This simple and efficient act can help you if you get lost or come into issues on the trail. This info can also be easily passed on to emergency services and massively reduce response times.
Many people go one step further by using GPS tracking on their telephone or smartwatch apps. Our favorite is Beacon by STRAVA. It provides friends or family at home with live tracking of your hike whilst also giving you some very interesting data such as distance walked and altitude climbed.
How Do I Feel About Hiking Today
There is no doubt that some light exercise such as hiking has been proven to have many benefits! It can reduce fatigue, lift your mood, and give you energy but if you have woken up feeling ill, stressed, or tired you may benefit more from a restful day.
Sometimes forcing yourself out the door is exactly what the doctor ordered. Once you are out on the trails the endorphins kick in, filling you with a sense of belonging, gratitude, and pride that you overcame the voices in your head telling you that your bed was too comfy to leave.
If you are unsure about whether to hike today we recommend that you:
- Talk to your hiking partner about how you are feeling
- Plan an alternative hike or shorter route that you can take if you still do not feel up to it once out on the trail
- Up your calories, and have a big breakfast with lots of carbohydrates and protein
- If possible delay the start time to see if the feeling passes
Am I Hiking Fit?
A relatively fit person can expect to walk at a brisk pace of around 2-3 miles an hour on fairly easy-to-cover terrain. A 5-mile hike should take around 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 hours without stops.
Hikers must extend these times when:
- The trail is mountainous with many obstacles
- The weather is extremely hot or cold
- The trail is in bad condition
- Members of the group are unfit, older, or children
If you have several hikes under your belt you probably have a good idea of your general fitness level and can pick a good route for yourself and your group. Your route should be based on distance, time, and terrain. If you are a beginner or a first timer it is important not to overstretch yourself.
Those with a generally high level of fitness such as sports people or manual workers can quickly adapt to the rigors of hiking but still may suffer from blisters or fatigue in muscles that they don’t normally use.
If it´s your first hike, we recommend that you stay under 5 miles over some fairly easy terrain. It is good practice to carry everything that you may pack for a longer hike to get used to the extra weight.
Also, remember that hiking is not a race, allow yourself time to relax and enjoy the natural beauty around you.