Thursday, July 28, 2016

Happy Trails!

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you probably have noticed that we hike. A lot. Especially with my sister here this summer - she fell in love with Arkansas over the 10 weeks she lived with us. It didn't really surprise me, though. It didn't take long for it to happen with me either.
The first time she headed out on her own for a hike, she came back hungry, tired and sunburned! I realized then that while I have been hiking for years, some people haven't been doing it for very long at all. I learned along the way what I needed (and what I didn't) when heading out to the trails.
Regardless of whether I plan to be out for an hour or 4 hours, I pack basically the same essentials, which I have listed below.
On shorter hikes (an hour or less) I leave things like sunscreen and insect repellent in the car after applying. If you are going on a clearly marked trail you may not need the map, but if you are headed into a trail system or a new wooded area I suggest taking it along.
Check It Off
  • Baby wipes/sanitary wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Backpack/daypack/fanny pack
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Hat (baseball style or wide-brimmed)
  • Insect repellent (spray or lotion)
  • Map/guidebook
  • Plastic baggie (to carry out any trash)
  • Snacks/lunch (pack extra!)
  • Sunblock & lip balm with sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Whistle
  • Water bottle/canteen/Camelback
  • Bandana or multiuse head wrap
  • Binoculars
  • Camera 
  • Multipurpose knife
  • Flashlight or headlamp (with new batteries)
  • Trekking poles
Making sure you have the right gear is just one aspect of preparing for your day hike; there are  2 other important parts of preparing that you just shouldn't skip.
1. Check the weather. I don't mean look out the window and see if there are drops of water falling from the sky. Tune the radio, internet or TV into a station reporting on weather in the area you are headed to.  Even if you are only travelling 30 minutes from home there can be big swings in temperature and conditions.
Expect up to a 10 degree temperature drop if you are headed to a higher elevation. In the warm summer and fall months this might seem ideal, but in the winter 10 degrees can be the difference between needing to add an extra layer of clothing.
2. Fuel and hydrate properly before you head out. You filled your water bottle and have trail mix in your pack. But have you had breakfast and a big glass of h2o today?
Think eggs, fruit and toast or oatmeal with dried fruit and Greek yogurt. If you are planning a half-day or longer hike you should swap your water for an electrolyte drink.

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