So, you’re a hiking newbie! Here are five things you should do before you go hiking:
Have a plan
You might need to do some research. Google the place you are hiking to or visit travel blogs that have written about that place and read the comments section. Comments sections and reviews are from actual people who have been there and can be very useful for getting balanced information about a place. You can also join online hiking groups or visit online forums where hikers gather to talk about their experiences.
Make a checklist. You can have one for your food and another for equipment. It will make sure you are on track with packing bare necessities. If the hike still worries you, arrange to go with a group of people by signing up with a tour agency like Naija Nomads. The good thing with such agencies is that they have a wealth of experience and can provide resources and encouragement that will soothe your fears.
Settle issues of Health and security
To be on the safe side, make sure you have an experienced and knowledgeable hiker accompanying you. Get a first aid kit and learn how to use it or ow to carry out basic first aid procedures. If you can get a map of the area before the trip, study it, it will give you a good idea of the route you will be taking. Look for possible emergency exit points/places where you can get clean water to stock up on. Just in case you feel maps are outdated, carry a compass or get a good hiking GPS with extra batteries. If you will be out in the open on a hot sunny day, plan for sun protection like sunshades, hats, etc.
As for health-related matters, make sure you have plenty of water with you and drink it as often as possible. Dehydration on a hike is the enemy, it can leave you feeling faint or trigger hypothermia. To reduce the stress on your body, take occasional 10-minute break. If you are wearing socks and they get wet, take them off immediately so you don’t get blisters. Also, make sure you have an emergency stash of food in case you stay out longer than expected.
Know what to pack in your backpack
The list of things to pack vary. The basics, however, include packing a first aid kit, map, flashlights, snacks, water purifying tablets or pump purifiers. Make sure the bag you are using is lightweight so it’s easy to carry around. Keep your backpack waterproof by using a pack cover for the exterior or a pack liner for the interior of the bag. Keep your stove fuel outside the backpack if you are carrying food. Take a tent – which you must have practiced setting up with; along with dry, warm comfortable extra clothing. Always carry a raincoat jacket regardless of the weather forecast for that day. One that is waterproof but still breathable.
Practice Hiking Etiquette
Yes, hiking etiquette exists. It involves giving uphill hikers right of way, not being a nuisance by talking or blasting music, not giving human food to wild animals, etc. This walking tour through nature is to be enjoyed, so make sure you leave it as you met it. Leave no trace of your presence; do not litter. Don’t harm nature by taking anything from the trail/nature you did not bring with you. Do not stray from the trail. If you do, you might disrupt the natural flow of things in that habitat. This is why park rangers follow specific routes in nature parks like Okomu National Park.
Know a few ‘tricks of the trade’
Start your hiking experience by going on short hikes, it enables you to come to terms with your physical limitations. Walk at a pace that allows you to walk and talk without huffing and puffing. If you can walk and talk without much difficulty, it means your brain and legs are getting enough oxygen. In hot weather, put your water bottle in a wet sock and hang it outside your backpack. It will prevent the water inside from getting too hot. And if it is a raining day, fold a small towel into a thin strip and wrap it around your neck. It will prevent water from dripping into your clothes from your head or neck region. Last but not least, repackage food to conserve space. An example would be, using a zip-lock bag to pack powdered milk rather than carrying a tin of powdered milk.
There you have it; everything you need to know before going on a hike. Now go out there and take awesome pictures while hiking like a pro!