10 Tips for Hiking Trips

10 Tips for Hiking Trips (most learned the hard way)

Planning some hiking as part of your summer fun?

We recently enjoyed some hiking in the Redwoods and South Lake Tahoe, CA.  So, I thought I'd share Ten Tips I use when planning hiking trips.  (Yes, we've learned these the hard way.)

  1. To keep sore muscles at bay, alternate days of long trails and short trails, with perhaps a little driving between the short trails for rest.
  2. Camelbaks.  These make drinking your water so easy.  Always have more and drink more water than you think you need.  My husband, Doug, and I have hiked "all day" with Camelbaks and without them.  They made more of a difference than I expected.  If you are hiking on two or more days of your vacation, a Camelbak is the best investment you can make.  This trip, because we only planned one "all day" hike, we only took Doug's Camelbak.  (We were trying to save room in the luggage.)  I carried bottled water in a lay-flat backpack, but we both drank from his Camelbak for convenience on the hikes.  So, at least invest in one Camelbak per couple.
  3. Food.  I'll post a whole separate blog on packing food for hikes.
  4. Stretching.  Lots of it.  And often.  The days leading up to your hiking trip, during your hikes, and at the end of each hiking day for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Have a few "extra" trails picked out on your route.  Once you get to your destination, you may find out that a trail has been closed (snow, bear-issues, landslide, whatever).  It is better to have already decided an alternate than to spend hours trying to locate another one and your day of hiking is gone.
  6. Plan on a few hours before your trip to map out the directions to trailheads.  And be patient.  Usually the directions to a trailhead are written by locals.  So it may say "the trailhead is located on Hwy 72 after the big waterfall."  Sounds simple, until you get to the area and see that there are several big waterfalls.
  7. That means an opportunity to get to know the locals.  Stop at hiking stores, gas stations, etc. and show them your directions.  Ask, "Any idea which is the big waterfall?"  If they don't know, just count it as part of your adventure.  (Admitted:  tough for me to do.  I just want to get there and hike.)
  8. First aid:  Depending on how deep into the woods you are going and how well traveled the trail, take at least basic first aid supplies (alcohol wipes, bandaids, allergy med for stings)...and whatever else you might need if you were alone a few miles into the trail.
  9. If not a very well traveled trail or the trailhead is away from the parking/ranger area, let someone know (either at the ranger station or the front desk at the hotel) what trails you plan to do and approximately when you will return.  For most trails, an average of 1.5-2 miles per hour is typical.
  10. Massage.  Schedule a massage for the latter part of your hiking trip, or at least for when you get home.  You will have earned it.  (And, if you have challenged yourself, you will need it.)

Sheri Traxler, M.Ed. sheri@thevireolife.com  www.thevireolife.com