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Tips if you’d like to get into hiking, a thread

If you’d like to get into hiking, here are a few tips if you’ve never done so that’ll help keep you comfortable and safe!

1) Always tell someone where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. Even if you’re hiking with a group this one is vital. It’s important if you get in a sticky situation for people to know that you’re missing, and they won’t know that unless they’re expecting you back.

2) Good boots. If you’re new to hiking, selecting boots can be daunting. There are two main considerations when selecting boots, lightness and durability. Every pair of boots on the market are some combination of these two factors. I highly recommend going with a more durable heavier boot to start out. Once they wear out, you can always replace them with a lighter boot, but for new hikers it’s more important to have a boot that won’t let you down than one which is ultralight. (Cont)

I hike exclusively in heavy Timberland work boots. They are unbelievably durable and I can hike in them for years before I need a new pair. I used to hike in lightweight Colombia hiking boots, but they wore out extremely quickly (I blew through one pair in 3 months once) so I’ve gone with a heavier boot ever since. Yes they don’t breath very well and they feel like lead bricks after 12 km, but they always get me home. Important tip, take the time to break in your boots before your first hike. There are a lot of fancy tips and tricks online for breaking in boots, but the best way I’ve found is to wear them all day every day for a few weeks before I take them into the back country.

3) Orienteering. I’m pretty reliant on my phone to get me around in my day-to-day life. But phones, maps, and compasses are very easy to lose or break in the forest. Learn how to move through the woods without them. Do you know which way north is right now? What linear features are around?

Where do those linear features intersect? Learn how to read a map and a compass, but don’t rely on them. Obviously, don’t launch yourself into the deep woods to try to learn how to do this. But practice being able to tell your cardinal directions and memorize the linear features (gullies, roads, trails, streams, fence lines, etc) that are in your hiking area. One of the best ways to get good at this type of navigation is to hike the same trail lots of times, when you’re starting out.

4) Water. Bring more water than you think you need. Whatever you think you’ll, need double it. Humans are pretty good at deprivation, but not when it comes to water. Bring lots and drink lots. It’s not necessary to hyper hydrate before a hike, but make sure you’re not thirsty before you start. Important tip: When your water is halfway gone, turn around, it’s time to hike back. Cont

If everything has gone wrong and you’re out of water and you’re feeling yourself get dehydrated, especially if you’re having a hard time thinking or you’ve stopped sweating, then drink whatever water you can find. I know this sounds like terrible advice, there’s lots of nasties out there in the water, but giardia and other water borne illnesses won’t kill you as fast as dehydration will. You might be sick for a few days, but you won’t be dead.

5) YOU determine how long the trail is. This one gets even experienced hikers into trouble. The trail is not 12km or 30km or 100km long. The trail is the length that you can comfortably hike. Period. If you don’t make it to the scenic overlook who cares? If you’re getting tired, turn around. Especially if you’re getting shaky, turn around. If you’re hiking with a group, make sure that everyone is comfortable turning around before you set off. Hiking groups should always be looking after each other. If anyone is done, everyone is done.

Cont

6) Clothes. Wear comfortable clothing for the weather BUT always be mindful of cold. You can get hypothermia on a beautiful 70-80F day if you’re wet and the wind is blowing. Always set off as if it’s going to rain buckets. Some folks bring rain gear and that’s great and highly effective, personally, I like to wear clothes that are comfy even when wet. I wear wool socks year round, i wear wool pants 3/4 of the year, I bring wool sweaters even in the summer. Wool and some synthetics are warm when wet. Figure out the right mix for you. Cotton is good when everything is dry, but pretty miserable when it’s wet. So find the alternatives that local hikers use and use those.

7) Mindset. Don’t hike angry. Don’t hike to impress. Don’t hike on drugs or under the influence of alcohol. You need your brain to hike, don’t cloud it. Be aware of your surroundings, 1) it’s beautiful and 2) it’s nice to remember the trail if you need to find your way back

Cont

8) Darkness. Bring a small flashlight or a headlamp, even for hiking in the day. Don’t rely on your phone for light, if you’re in an emergency situation, you’re probably going to need that phone for GPS or to call for help, so don’t waste the battery by using it as a flashlight. Darkness falls faster in the backcountry. The lack of light pollution and the presence of trees means that it gets dark much earlier in the woods and the darkness is darker. Plan your hike so that you’ve completed it with plenty of time to spare before it gets dark. If everything has gone wrong, and it’s now dark, don’t try to hike out in the darkness. Stay where you are, make yourself as comfortable as you can, spend the night and hike out in the morning. It sucks, but hiking in the dark, even with a light is extremely dangerous, injury rates go up, and the odds of getting lost skyrocket.

9) Hiking is supposed to be fun. Take your time, take breaks, eat snacks, sip water. You’re not in the Marines

Cont

10) Ease in. I know all of this sounds intimidating, but hiking is extremely enjoyable. Start with small hikes on well established easygoing trails. And build from there. The point of hiking is to enjoy your time outside, not to push yourself to the extreme. If you use a mobility aid there are often trails in your area that are specifically set up to be wheel friendly. Often they’re in unexpected places, like hunting areas, your local wildlife management office will know where they are and what the level of accessibility is. Many allow for powered vehicles as well.

-Happy hiking!-

Be safe y’all!

-Robin Hood

Addendum-

I have had formal training in wilderness survival from three separate highly experienced teachers. I worked for the NPS mapping unmapped trails. I started learning about wild plants and their uses at 9 years old. I’ve been whittling since I could hold a knife. I can start a fire using fire bow and my record is less than a minute. I’ve run trap lines, hunted, fished, and dug edible roots for longer than most of you have been alive. My current record for solo time in the woods, living off what I could find, is 5 days. I’m hoping to get that up to a week this year and two weeks next year

I STILL MAKE MISTAKES *and* get hurt out there, usually because of my ego

But messing up or getting hurt is nothing to be embarrassed about it happens to all of us. If you’re injured, call someone. If you’re lost, ask for directions. If you’re dehydrated, ask the first person you meet for some water

Most of the folks you see on the trail are lovely humans, who are more than willing to help!

@RobinHood I love this thread & I can tell you're a great person to hike with :blobcat: I hope very much that my household can get back on hiking this year

@RobinHood Huh, I was thinking about putting together a thread like this for years but never got around to it, good that somebody did it after all!

@RobinHood Thank you very much! Looking forward to applying these.

@RobinHood on multi-day hikes, the right backpack can make a big difference!

I once made the mistake of going on a four-day hike in the mountains with a city daypack. By day 2, my hamstrings and the backs of my knees were painfully sore because there was no proper hip belt to support the weight on my hips, and somehow the backs of my legs literally did all the heavy lifting.

Also, sunscreen. The stronger the better. Especially if you're in the mountains and hiking above the tree line.

^^strong co-sign on the backpack! (And all the advice in this thread is solid too). A well fitted pack with hip and chest belts makes so much difference which in turns means you can comfortably carry more to make the hike that much more enjoyable.

I’m especially grateful to the hiking partner of mine who always makes sure my pack has a snug fit and well distributed weight before we set out.

@RobinHood @draco

@RobinHood Ooh,seven would be a hard one for us, not necessarily because of our mindset but because we've had a different type of memory ever since we've become a big system and give ourselves grace to be alive, we're wondering if you or someone you've talked to maybe has advice for systems?

We don't do full blackouts per se, they'd be closer to greyouts, but that's not quite right either. We can usually gather clues and context rather quickly, but unless we've gone on a route everal times over a year ourselves we have a harder time remembering how to get back, even for mundane stuff. We keep Google Maps on in our car specifically in case someone takes front who hasn't ever fronted in our current residence/hasn't driven the body to work before. We have to teach others in the system skills by confronting and cocon. The obvious answer is "go with someone else to help just in case" even if we we're this weird, but that's not always an option.

A lot of this makes sense if we go with the premise we are people. That doesn't erase the fact we still share a bodybrain that we need to keep unharmed.

@RobinHood Hiking always seemed a little self-defeating to me, since every time you go hiking, you have to drive somewhere, to walk. I'd definitely do it more if I could drive though.

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