On his first hike, Ryan decided to be the cool one in sneakers, to the alarm of some of his more experienced hiking buddies. “What’s so hard about walking up an inclined path, anyway? That shouldn’t be hard for someone who grew up in the countryside – like me,” he thought. Or so he thought. He later learned the cost of his rookie blunder the hard way – aching calves and foot and an uncomfortable hiking experience.
When it comes to doing something for the first time, like going on a hike in this case, there is a tendency to believe you’ve got it all covered because you’ve done your bit of research, you’re going with someone who knows all about it, or that you’ve seen or heard it done somewhere and doesn’t seem all that complicated. Only to find out you just stumbled into Rookie Blunder Haven, like our guy Ryan.
In reality, you wouldn’t want to trial-and-error your way through a climb as this can put your health and well-being at risk. You gotta survive while out there. As such, if you avoid these hiking mistakes, you not only safeguard your safety but you also end your mountaineering experience on a fantastic note and have a great experience while hiking!
Using New or the Wrong Type of Footwear
This is quite self-explanatory, thanks to Ryan’s ordeal recounted at the beginning of this piece. However, even with the right shoes (e.g. designed to handle rough paths and the elements), you should break them in first for at least a week or more – never use new trail footwear on a hike if you want your feet to go the distance.
It’s natural so it breathes, right? Yes, but it also retains moisture – a no-no when it comes to sweat-inducing activities like trekking. When your cotton shirt is drenched in sweat, it sticks to your skin and makes you feel wet and even a bit cold for quite a while, which does not sound fun at all. Especially when your destination is rather chilly. Instead, pick clothing made of quick-dry material designed to wick moisture from your skin and thus keep you cool and dry.
Using Your Smartphone as a Crutch
It’s got a map, compass, flashlight, and GPS tracking – W.O.W. But do you have enough juice to make your gadget last the whole duration of the hike? While you can bring a battery pack, do bear in mind this one may add to your baggage weight and run the risk of overheating or getting knocked out of efficiency. Why not get those good old non-electronic versions, then?
Hiking when you are not on shape
Have a free weekend, will hike! Sounds great! But have you done anything cardio to prepare your body for the adventure? You know, like running or even just brisk walking for a couple of minutes at least 3 times a week?
If you don’t prepare your body for the hike, you will deal with sorely achey limbs and back even before the trip ends – not very good if you want to enjoy your hike or even finish it. But if you do your share of pre-hike heart-pumping preparations, the adventure will be pretty much like a walk in the park and may even get you looking forward to your next hike.
Bringing Too Much or Too Few
Either scenario isn’t good. So, how to make sure you’re bringing just enough to tide you over for the hike? Consider the duration of the trek, the weather, and the terrain you’ll be covering and you’re good to go.
Being Unmindful of the Weather
You should keep tabs on the weather of your destination even before you got there. This way, you get a good idea of what to expect on the hike and the right things to bring (or leave behind).
Not Knowing What LNT Means
“Leave No Trace” is a very important mountaineering principle that should be abided by everyone who steps on a trail. Whatever you see out there should be left as is when you leave. Bring back your trash with you and dispose it in a garbage receptacle when you return to civilization.
Getting Cheap Gear
You might slow your group down or get left behind because of a broken strap or a faulty shoe. You also may not have a good night’s sleep in a tent that easily tears or cannot keep out moisture. You may also put your own safety at risk if you get carabiners or ropes and other gear that are not heavy duty or of good quality.