Happiness is a Hike in the Woods
John Muir said it best with the quote “In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
Hiking is more than just a stroll down a trail to get a little outside time after a day—or week—in the office. Hiking is an excellent way to get a workout, clear your mind and find peace and quiet. Luckily, hiking is an activity that you can usually participate in regardless of age, skill level or fitness level.
WHERE TO HIKE
Whether you live in the city or country, east coast or west, there are plenty of places to hike. City and local parks are an excellent place to start.
- Research the area where you live to identify nearby state parks and nature preserves that have hiking or walking trails
- National parks typically have well-maintained trail systems and have a wide range of options for all skill levels
- Google it! Websites such as www.mapmyhike.com (also an app), www.americanhiking.org, www.trails.com and www.GORP.com offer state-by-state information on trails, including information on length, rating and difficulty level
- For those with physically disabilities, many parks offer accessible trails and boardwalks; visit www.traillink.com for a state-by-state list of wheelchair accessible trails
WHAT YOU NEED
Fortunately, hiking doesn’t require a lengthy list of expensive equipment to get started. Of course, you can spend as much as you want to buy every gadget and piece equipment, but it’s not a requirement.
The basic equipment:
- Proper clothing – Moisture-wicking fabric, including merino wool, is optimal for hiking. Basically, anything that isn’t cotton is best for dealing with sweat and keeping your body temperature regulated. Be sure to prepare for the weather conditions—shorts vs. pants, rain/snow gear, etc.
- Comfortable footwear – Finding a comfortable pair of hiking shoes may take time. Although everyone’s feet are different, ask friends for references and look at product reviews to help make a decision. There are a lot of options, so do some research before making the investment. Your hiking plans should also influence they type of shoes you wear.
- Water/hydration system – Plan for 1 liter for every 2 hours of hiking, depending on your individual needs, time of year, weather conditions, weight and difficulty of hike. Hydration packs are a great option, and earth friendly because they help eliminate plastic bottles.
- Map – Even in our technology-focused world, the GPS and Google Maps may not always work. Having a map and the ability to read it is important for any hiker. Most city and state parks regularly maintain trails so they are clearly marked and leave little room for error, but signs and markings can still get damaged. And having a map is especially important if you venture out to wilderness or backcountry areas, where trails may not be marked as well and nature can take its toll on signage and your tracks.
- High-energy snacks – You’ll burn a lot of calories while hiking—upwards of 250 per hour—so having snacks to keep your energy level up is a good idea. Trail mix, nuts, seeds and nut-based bars, dried fruits and veggies, granola or granola bars, ready-made tuna pouches and meat jerky are good options.
- Sun protection – Hat, sunglasses with UV protection such as Skeleton Optics, sunscreen and clothes that offer UV protection are a good idea. Long exposure to the sun is not only dangerous for the skin, but it can cause dehydration and lead to disorientation.
There are a lot of other tools and equipment that can be used for hiking. Your specific hiking plans should dictate exactly what is needed. Below is a short list of supplies that might be a good idea:
- Duct tape
- Carabineer and rope or paracord
- Waterproof matches or lighter
- Headlamp or flashlight with new batteries
- Bug spray
- Toilet paper
- First-aid kit with bandages, antibacterial ointment, gauze pads, suture kit
- Pocket knife or multi-tool
- Bear spray, if you’re hiking in an area where bears may be present
- Hiking poles to help with stability
- Camera and accessories – Vanguard offers a great selection of photo/video accessories for the amateur or seasoned photographer to help capture the perfect nature shots
- Warming lotion for cold-weather hiking, such as Cammi and Company Thermal Relief Lotion
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HIKING:
While the hike is often reward enough, there are many benefits beyond beautiful views and scenery. Hiking just once a week can have numerous health benefits.
- Improves cardiorespiratory fitness (heart, lungs and blood vessels)—Hiking regularly can help to lower the risk of heart disease and improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Helps build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
- Hiking helps maintain joint flexibility and decreases joint stiffness, helping to increase bone density
- On average, hiking burns up to 250 calories per hour depending on terrain, speed and complexity of the hike helping to control weight
- Moving around difficult terrains forces your abs, obliques and lower back to work hard to keep your body stabilized which strengthens the core, in turn, helping to decrease back pain and improve balance and stability
- Studies have shown that even a few minutes of outdoor time can brighten your day; plus, exercise produces endorphins which help take away stress
- Although vitamin D is available in some foods, the best source comes from the sun and hiking can expose you to much-needed rays, especially in the winter months when outside time is limited (but be sure to protect yourself from the harmful rays)
Remember, hiking is an activity that everyone can participate in. Find a friend, or take your dog, and get outside! The main objectives—have fun and be safe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sarah Honadel is an avid outdoorswoman from Kentucky, living in Idaho, who enjoys hunting turkey, deer and elk. She is a Team Member at Huntress View and Brand Champion for ReelCamo Girl, two organizations that work to support, encourage and empower women in the outdoors. Follow her on Instagram @waddysarah and @arrowridgecreations.
Skeleton Optics - https://skeletonoptics.com/
Cammi and Company Thermal Relief Lotion - https://www.cammiandcompany.com/products/thermal-relief-lotion-for-x-tremities
ReelCamo Girl is a lifestyle brand focused on ladies who love the outdoors.There is a growing need for a place for women to share their outdoor experiences, as well as an interest in clean eating and self-sufficiency. Through our website and social media networks, we offer a safe place where the ladies can share their pictures, stories, wild game and fish recipes, and news articles about conservation and hunting perspectives.
ReelCamo girls are strong, capable, kind, compassionate, nature & country-loving individuals. We encourage responsible and ethical hunting. We care about the land and wildlife management and about long term sustainability. We hunt, fish, dive, shoot and hike…for peace of mind, happiness, pure clean protein & connection to the outdoors. ReelCamoGirls can shoot a gun, draw a bow, track an animal, get CAMOed up, bait a hook, clean a fish and still be feminine.