Prepare for the Swathes of Splendour
Put on your sweater, grab your daypack, lace up your hiking boots and take in unbridled colours with panoramic views. One thing I love about fall hikes is the inherent pleasures of spending time outdoors.
Whether it is bird watching, sitting on rocks green with moss by a waterfall, or walking under large oaks speckled with orange and red leaves it’s a great stress release and great way to reconnect with nature. Hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive recreational activities anyone can participate in. It all begins with one small step forward, to improve your fitness, reduce fatigue, and increase your energy and mental well-being.
More than Walking
Trails range in difficulty so why not explore different paths; pick a day trek on a local trail in a wooded area, head to a creek bed on a mountain range where you can climb to soaring heights or go to a provincial or state park where you can backpack for days – even weeks on end. The rewards can be physically challenging, exhausting, vigorous, exhilarating or mentally demanding, but one thing for sure, it is always an excellent structure of exercise.
Once you’re in motion, hiking can burn anywhere from 300-400 calories per hour. When you increase the number of calories you expend and balance it with healthy eating, a magical thing happens; you begin to feel good about your body. Stress and tension melt away. Increase your hike to a brisk pace or trek up a steep incline and your heart rate as well as your body’s demand for oxygen also heightens tremendously. Aerobically, this trains your heart, lungs and muscles to work more efficiently, why it even reduces elevated blood fats and blood pressure, improves digestion, and elimination. One of the best benefits hiking offers is the chance to socialize with family and friends which intensifies relationships by sharing in the beauty of nature.
These Boots Were Made for Hiking
Beginners may want to start with a flat terrain on well-maintained trails. The single most important piece of equipment you’ll need is a good pair of hiking boots. Go ahead and splurge. Look for lightweight, waterproof, comfortable to wear, and easy to break-in hiking shoes. As you increase your experience and expertise, the quintessential hiking boots are the best choice to withstand more rigorous terrains. Most stores have excellent and knowledgeable sales staff willing to help you find the right design to suit your level and needs. Day hiking, backpacking and mountaineering boots all have various features exclusively designed ideally for men, women and children. Avoiding nasty heel or toe blisters is to ensure your boots fit well. Take hold of thick hiking socks, try on your boots in the store, and walk around for at least 10 minutes.
Warm Weather Clothing
Warm sunny days are common during the fall months. Wick-a-way clothing; like, t-shirts or long sleeve shirts, underwear, pants, shorts, and a sun-shield hat are ideal for drawing moisture away from the skin to keep cool and dry while hiking. A bandana may be best for absorbing sweat while insulating fleece jacket or vest can be utilized to maintain body heat while sitting casually drinking in the magnificence of the trail.
Cool Weather Clothing
Cool evenings and nights generally let us know that fall has arrived so as the days progress toward winter’s icy spell, day hikes may be nippy and breezy. Wick-away long underwear under rain or soft shell pants, wicking long sleeve t-shirt with insulated fleece jacket complete with gloves or mitten, rain jacket, and waterproof hat is best recommended for a pleasurable hiking excursion.
Day Hiking Checklist
Warm days and cool nights are common during the fall months so consider taking a lightweight backpack that’s big enough to carry some essential items when going on intermediate or more advanced trails lasting for 4 or more hours. Navigational tools; maps, or guide books, compass or GPS apparatus, as well as sun protection items like sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses will guard against exposure. Also think about taking insulated items like a jacket, vest, extra pants, quick dry towel, gloves and hat with a brim. Fall sunlight hours are generally shorter and some hikers can sometimes get caught on a trail after the sunsets so prepare for the worst with illumination gear like a headlamp, or flashlight and extra batteries. Some times emergencies can occur so to be fully prepared bring along matches or a lighter in a waterproof container, reflective blanket, repair kits are a good investment and contain a knife or multi-tool and even duck tape strips. Nutrition and hydration are a must for any hiker. Water or energy drinks, bagged snacks, energy bars, gels or chews, and even a water filter for extra long hikes. Camera, binoculars, trekking poles, insect repellent, multifunction watch, head net, toilet paper, sanitation trowel, hand sanitizer, or a cell phone are all great items to bring along. For the hiker who wants to stay in communication with family and friends consider a two-way radio and the hiker who wants to record the beauty of their hike bring along an interpretive field guide, note pad or sketchpad with a pen or sharp pencil.
Pre and Post Trip Suggestions
Research what type of trail is best suited for your level of fitness, plan length and route for your trek based on maps and guide books so you don’t get caught short food, or develop muscle cramps or pain. It is important to leave the trail as you found it so bring a bag to collect your trash and keep it with you until you can dispose of it in the nearest garbage receptacle. Leave your trip itinerary with a friend or place it under your vehicle car seat – vital in emergencies. Post hike snacks, water, towel, and even change in clothing will make your hiking experience a pleasurable one.
Check with local hiking clubs in your area or with your local outdoors store.