The Great Outdoor Adventure Begins

Hiking. Ever tried it? Maybe you have visions of dusty trails on steep slopes. Or, possibly you think it’s an experience filled with just insect bites, blisters and sore legs. Sounds pretty unpleasant, doesn’t it?

Well, hiking can involve those things. But, with the proper techniques, equipment and guidance you can enjoy all the many positives that are inherent in hiking: fresh air, beautiful scenery, healthy exercise, soul-refreshing solitude and joyous companionship. You can also avoid those unpleasant things listed earlier.

Just to get started on the right foot, so to speak, it’s a good idea to say what hiking is not.

Hiking is not mountain climbing, even though you can hike up some mountains. Mountain climbing involves using gear or special techniques to scale steep inclines. Mountain climbing is potentially dangerous, even lethal.

About the only time hikers confront anything serious is when they get lost in wilderness areas or accidentally suffer a snake bite. Both those fates are easily avoided with a little bit of expert guidance and some common sense.

Hiking can be part of kayaking, fishing and other outdoor activities. But those, along with cave-exploring, canyoning and a dozen other exciting outdoor activities are not the same as hiking. Most of those other things are much more vigorous and require specialized guidance or training.

All you need to get started hiking is some good boots, the appropriate outdoor clothing and access to an area that allows you to enjoy the experience.

You can find good boots at hundreds of places online, and later we’ll talk about how to select the right pair. Similarly, outdoor clothing in every price range, style and purpose can be had on a hundred sites. Picking out the right socks, pants, shirt and jacket isn’t hard if you keep in mind the area and weather. A few hints in the right direction will go a long way.

Lots of other gear can help make your experience more enjoyable. Poles, GPS units and/or a compass, backpacks, containers and an array of other items like bug spray, burn cream, bandages can make life on the trail a lot more pleasant.

You’ll want to consider a few common sense safety guidelines before you go very far beyond your local trail-lined hills. It’s possible to get lost even in very small patches of forest. Snakes and other wildlife can turn a refreshing outing into an adventure you should only see on TV.

But after some modest instruction and preparation, you can quickly be ready for some stellar hikes. With a little more expert guidance and a bit of experience, you can soon branch out into overnight or longer hikes. Within a few months or less, you can tackle even the toughest trails.

Get ready for the adventure, because it’s all there waiting for you at the head of the trail. Walk on!

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