Basic Training For Beginning Hikers

Once you’ve achieved some basic fitness as preparations for a good hike, there are a few other things that will help you get completely ready. General fitness is great, but there are specialized activities that are appropriate to hiking, another specialized form of exercise.

Walking barefoot around the house and yard is not a bad idea. It’s not essential, but it helps toughen up the soles of your feet. Even with hiking boots and good socks it never hurts to have something a little tougher under them than baby soft skin.

There’s a special ointment, Benzoin, that some might want to look into. It’s not necessary to get started, but it’s helpful for sores and can make skin tougher over time. It also helps kill germs. Not a bad addition to the backpack.

Dealing with blisters is a topic all on its own, but if you get them you’ll want to puncture them and wait to heal before doing too much more walking. When you have the choice, that is. Cover those parts likely to develop them with moleskin or a band aid.

Make sure your toenails are well trimmed, but avoid trimming them down into the fold of the skin. They can rub or puncture you and really make walking a nightmare.

Work up to a long hike in stages. A mile or two (2-4km) is fine. Even if you’re in good shape five miles should be your limit when first starting out. Hiking usually entails walking over uneven and slanted surfaces. That’s a lot more effort than simple walking on the streets.

Once you’ve worked up beyond five miles, you’ll probably want to start carrying a backpack. Be sure to pack small water bottles at first, either pre-filled or reusable. Lots of trails have containers you can throw the empties in, but it’s bad manners to litter.

You should carry some kind of mineral replacement food, or at least a sports drink. Avoid those with lots of sugar. Sugar isn’t as bad for you as it’s often advertised. In fact, it’s essential to life. But the type that is in some sports drinks doesn’t deliver it in the form or amount you want for optimal results.

If you’re going to go onto unmarked trails or in an unfamiliar area, you should always be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. A GPS unit, one you know how to use, is helpful too. In general, you should avoid these until you’re more experienced, but sometimes the temptation is irresistible.

DON’T GET LOST. That’s the most common way that beginning hikers turn a two-hour walk in the sunshine into a two-day search and rescue effort for professionals. Some of them, understandably enough, won’t be happy when they find you. You won’t be happy out in the wilderness for two days either. Let me repeat that: DON’T GET LOST.

If you work up to longer, more difficult hikes you’ll enjoy the experience much more. People sometimes give up because they got sore, injured, sick, bug bitten, cold, hungry, or…. None of these things have to happen and they are easily avoidable. Just exercise your body, and your common sense.

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