Fall weather is the best. The temperatures are cooler and all the trees and plants put their energy into one last dazzling show before winter. It’s the perfect time to hike. As a kid, my dad took us on random hikes all the time. Some were half hour jaunts at Red Rock Canyon, where we did more climbing than hiking. Some were long—half a day or more. When we visited my grandparents in southern Utah, we’d hike trails in Zion National Park (heaven on Earth).
To some, hiking might seem the epitome of pointlessness. Why work so hard to get up to a ridge, just to come down again? And your feet hurt! If you feel that way, maybe you just haven’t gone on the right hikes…or gone prepared with the right equipment and attitude.
Here are my hiking hints.
Don’t leave home without it! The longer the hike, the more you should take. Keeping hydrated helps you not get headaches and other problems.
Take snacks or lunch to keep energized. Salty snacks are good to replenish your lost sweat. In the desert, not too much can be said about water and food. I like to chew gum to keep my mouth moist too.
Seeing new sights is one of the payoffs of hiking. I love snapping pictures to remember places I’ve been, capture a stray deer or fox that bounds by, or a gurgling stream. There’s also nothing like a silly family photo out in the wild.
Don’t hike in cheap sandals; blisters are a pain. The longer the hike, the better shoes you should have for support. If your feet are comfortable, you’ll like hiking a lot better. I promise.
The same hike, done year after year, yields different results. Wildflowers might abound in a meadow one year and not the next because of drought. I’ve had grand adventures hiking: a hailstorm on a ridge at 9,000 feet where we had to seek shelter under a dead log as lightning struck all around us; a baby bear has run across my path; we’ve come around a bend in Yellowstone to find a huge buffalo blocking our path; and a swarm of ladybugs that got caught in my hair and nostrils (I like ladybugs, but not in droves). Even if nothing crazy like that happens though, it’s still exciting to anticipate what’s around the next bend or on top of a ridge.
When you hike, you look down at your shoes a lot (another good reason to have good ones). You don’t want to trip over a rock or exposed tree root. But if you never take time to look up, you’re missing out on what makes hikes truly enjoyable. It’s not the rutted path you travel (those look quite the same whether you’re in the desert or a forest). You must stop occasionally to partake of the beauty around you. Look up, look outward…and ENJOY. This tip applies to life in general.
Hikes can be small half hour jaunts or week long expeditions requiring lots of planning and equipment. It all depends on your stamina and what you enjoy. I, for one, love the small to medium hikes because they’re easy to do and are just as enjoyable as a long one that takes more effort…and my feet don’t ache for days.
Whether you enjoy short or long ones, HIKING has great payoffs if you go prepared to ENJOY! Life is a hike. Lift your eyes up from the ground and enjoy all the blessings around you.