In today’s busy world, it’s difficult for many of us to clear our minds and enjoy some peace and quiet with Mother Nature. Hiking can be one of the most rewarding outdoor experiences, but it’s important to plan properly, get yourself in the right mindset, and allow yourself to relax.
Here are seven tips for making the most of the experience.
1. It’s Not All About the Likes. This is key number one. Social media rules much of our life so that we are not focused and present in many experiences. Many are obsessed with getting the most likes for a post and constantly updating our friends with every second of our lives. It’s a desire to prove that we are interesting and worth someone else’s time. That quintessential desire to feel needed is something that can still be accomplished without the need for the best picture to post on Instagram. The internal desire to prove something to yourself (like conquering your first hike) can be just as much of a motivator. Use your cell phone for GPS purposes (if service is available) but don’t constantly update Facebook. Instead, be present in the moment and appreciate Mother Nature’s beauty.
2. Plan, Plan, Plan. One of the best ways to enjoy an experience is to plan, and triple check the plan. Hiking involves looking at weather patterns, terrain differences, clothing options, food, and lodging. Make your next hike so much easier by planning out as much as you can. Consult local travel guides on the internet, or head to your local REI to get physical maps and chat with employees to get tips.
3. Bring A Friend or Two. Never hike alone. It’s dangerous. Exploring with friends is so much fun and can elevate your friendship to a whole new level. It takes something special between friends to be able to navigate the wilderness and strengthen friendship along the way. Also, if more people are involved, you can plan better, split costs, and you constantly have someone to talk to and appreciate the views with.
4. National Parks Are Your Best Friend. The National Parks service recently celebrated their 101st-anniversary last month. Not only are the 58 national parks full of mountains, valleys with endless flowers and geysers, but these parks also have some of the best laid out hiking trails for all levels. If you are unsure of your hiking fitness levels, try to go to your local national park and follow one of their defined beginner trails. These trails are marked and guided so there is no way to lose your way. You’ll learn the basics of hiking admiring some of the most stunning views in the country.
5. Talk to Fellow Travelers. The best part of experiences is hearing stories from other travelers. You can learn so much from other people; they could be able to provide you with tips to navigating trails, or how to tolerate mosquito bites all over your body. Comradery is the easiest way to get more people to join your hiking experience as well- the more, the merrier.
6. Keep A Journal. If your hike is going to be a longer one, try and keep a handwritten journal if your backpack allows. You will experience and learn so much on your hike that your senses will be awakened. It’s hard to recreate those feelings when you’re out of the experience. A journal is the closest way to recreate those thoughts for another day. You are embarking on a wonderful journey that will bring you closer to nature and force you to be present in the moment. Jot down a few thoughts each day for each new destination to remind you of those feelings when daily life gets stressful.
7. Take A Deep Breath. The best part of hiking is the ability to take a step back from your everyday life and transport yourself into another world. Taking a step back from everyday stresses, whether that be a job or a relationship that is less than ideal is important. Mother Nature appreciates that you are taking the courageous opportunity to leap into the wilderness. The world is full of wonder, and you’ve conquered this hiking experience. Pat yourself on the back. Let out the biggest smile. Take a deep breath and appreciate all the wonderful beauty that the world has to offer.
So, there you have it! Take a step back from the everyday hustle and let yourself relax – all while getting in some exercise, too. Happy hiking!
Omar Ascha is an emerging finance professional with an education from UC Berkley who works as a financial analyst. In his free time, Mr. Ascha enjoys hiking, traveling and spending time with family and friends.