Taking up hiking can be an exciting time for you and any of your hiking partners that you might want to take along for the trip. As a beginner, you will of course want to think carefully about the hike you choose, as well as the equipment you bring along and the partners you elect to go with. These decisions will be among the most essential when it comes down to your health and safety during the hike.
Hiking Alone vs. Finding a Hiking Partner
One of the first things you have to think about when starting out as a hiker is whether you want to hike alone, with a partner or in a group. In most cases, beginning hikers are better off in a group with other hikers and at least one or two experienced hikers who can advise them about how to approach the hike to avoid getting too tired or falling prey to injuries and accidents.
If you're confident in your survival skills, however, and you want a challenge, then you can also consider hiking on your own.
Still, remember that, while hiking alone can give you a strong sense of freedom and individuality, it's also difficult, and it can get pretty lonely and scary at times.
So, if you're not yet fully confident in your skills, then it's usually better to hike with a partner.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Route
Choosing the best hiking routes should include what's best for you and your hiking partner. For instance, if you want to opt for one of the best hikes in San Diego, it might be best to examine everything from how to get there from the city, to how long the route is and whether or not it might present specific challenges that might be easier or harder for you to handle, depending on your strong and weak points.
In San Diego's case, a lot of the hikes available around the city are actually quite pleasant and easy to handle even for beginning hikers. When you don't yet have much experience, it's very important to consider only shorter, less challenging hikes, rather than going straight for the biggest "prize" and choosing one of the longer ones.
Of course, you don't necessarily have to use any guesswork in choosing the right hiking route for you. It's better, instead, to know more about what you want and what you can handle. Consider how much time you have at your disposal and what your current fitness level is like.
Don't overdo it, or you might end up late for an appointment or completely exhausted by the time you return.
Also, when looking at the distance you'll have to cover, it's also an essential prerequisite to take a close look at the elevation gain. If you don't yet have the experience to know how much of an elevation gain you can handle at your current level, consider consulting an experienced hiker to learn more and find out how much of a steep climb you might be able to take.
Selecting the Right Equipment
When it comes to choosing the right hiking gear, it's important to at least have the most basic essentials. As a beginner, you should still know what these are, and you should definitely consider double-checking all the items, even after having prepared them for the trip.
The essentials we spoke of should include:
- GPS and navigation
- Sun protection, such as a sunscreen and a good pair of sunglasses
- A dependable knife
- A headlamp and flashlight, along with the necessary batteries and backups
- Matches, a lighter or a stove
- A light emergency bivy or a tent
- First aid including foot care
- Additional food, water and clothes, as per the requirements of the trip.
In most cases, the specifics of these items should be considered according to what the trip demands. For instance, if you're going to a place where the temperature is very cold, you might need more clothes and thicker, warmer shoes. Alternatively, you could consider a larger tent if you're not traveling alone, and you should add more emergency first aid supplies, in the event that you might expect specific challenges along the way.
As you gain more experience, you'll find there are many other factors involved in making your hike truly memorable. However, ultimately, even just the fresh air and the accomplishment you feel as you complete your first hikes will be extremely satisfactory to experience as a beginner.
About the author
Michelle Laverton is an avid hiker and had trekked thousands of miles around the Pacific Northwest over the last decade. When Michelle isn't out in the woods, she's probably planning her next outdoor adventure with friends.