We have visitors come from all over the world to experience hiking in the southern Appalachia. This is to be expected since we have some of the most serene and monumental views on the entire east coast. Some travelers are experienced hikers while others have never hiked a day in their life. Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend who fell into the latter category. He was slightly afraid to try hiking for no other reason than he had not done it before and wasn’t sure what to expect.
It got me thinking about how many other people out there prevent themselves from experiencing the pure joy of hiking solely based on a fear of the unknown. Hiking is not going to be like walking into a scene from ‘Into the Wild’ nor will it take a page out of ‘The Hills Have Eyes’.
I have outlined some dos and don’ts and general guidelines to follow for our beginner hikers. These simple suggestions will make sure you get the most out of your hike and stay safe in the process.
- Choose a hike best suited to your physical ability and comfort level.
- Always check the weather in advance before you leave. This is a must! If there is any chance of thunderstorms I’d take a rain check. You never want to be caught up a mountain during a lightning storm.
- Wear proper hiking shoes and boots. Ankles can twist easily if walking on rocks or uneven landscape. Protect your feet at all times!
- Do not over pack. You would be surprised at how heavy a mere extra 5 pounds can feel.
- Taking a basic first aid with you is a good idea, just in case. When I am hiking in the summer months the one thing I always bring are tweezers just in case I get a tick on me.
- If you have any intentions of leaving a well-marked trail it is crucial that you have a map of the area just in case you get lost. GPS on your phones may not work wherever you decide to hike.
- Please remember to stay hydrated! Due to many of our hikes being in higher elevations the air is much dryer. Bring that water!
Something that most of us hikers like to practice is something dubbed “low impact hiking”. Many of our lands here are protected and we like to ensure that they are respected when we visit. These mountains, woodlands and valleys are home to so many creatures and we have no right to go into someone else’s home, uninvited, and make a mess of things. The popular saying “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” rings true here. This means no littering, messing with wildlife or disturbing the land. Please refrain from starting fires unless in a designated fire ring at a known camp ground. Also, refrain from starting a fire during a dry spell.
But most importantly…..HAVE FUN!