Maybe we’ve all thought we need to look after our health better by getting more exercise. Or maybe our doctor has warned us our cholesterol is too high and we are at risk of clogged arteries.
Most of us will have heard of the great health benefits of walking, or hiking, more, something we might not have been involved in for quite some time. But we enjoyed it a lot way back when, and would like to explore it again.
The good news is that hiking clothing, equipment, and technology have come a long way in recent years. Hiking trails and areas are being developed, and more people are getting involved. Here is a great resource to help you become another of those people – our 7 steps to planning the perfect day hike.
You and Who? The Social Side
Are we planning a day hike just for ourselves, a twosome of us and one other, or perhaps for a group of fellow-hikers?
Where there is more than just ourselves, our plan needs to take everybody’s capability into account, and we need to communicate the plan to all participants beforehand.
For example, I planned a 14km hike in Peneda-Geres recently and communicated all the details to our group about a week beforehand.
All The Technology, and Plan B
But how do we know where the trails are, and follow the routes without getting lost? This could be hazardous, or at least a big problem.
A good smartphone trail hiking app is the answer. It allows GPS navigation of the trail. But carry a map and compass as a backup.
Examples would be the AllTrails or Kamoot apps. You can search for suitable trails and navigate them accurately offline with your smartphone.
The Party Invite
Our hiking comrades will want to know the details of the planned hike so that they can decide for themselves if they want to join us.
Our hiking buddies download the trail app to their smartphones too, and we can send them a link to the selected trail by WhatsApp.
When they tap on the link in WhatsApp it opens the selected trail in the trail app, along with all the details of the hike.
Are We There Yet?
Even though we may have communicated the plan some time before the hike, most people may have forgotten or not checked the details beforehand.
When we meet at the beginning of the trail gather everyone into a group, and go through the details of the hike again, checking for any questions.
A good example would be a short review of the hike details at the start, and a quick question and answers session by the organizer.
Don’t Get Caught Out
Unexpected or changing weather conditions in the area of the hike can have a big effect on people’s preparation and enjoyment of the hike.
Detailed and up-to-the-minute online weather forecasts are available for almost anywhere on the planet. Consult these the day before and dress accordingly for the hike.
Sometimes we have to be prepared for very variable weather conditions. For example, sunblock and a rainjacket on the same day would not be uncommon.
Light is Right
Many inexperienced hikers seem to overload their backpacks by trying to be prepared for every eventuality. But do make room for enough water and snacks.
The skill is to carry the minimum necessary and this takes experience. The best thing is to speak to an experienced hiker and follow their advice.
A great example is the film ‘Wild’, where Cheryl allows two experienced hikers to do a weight-reduction exercise on the huge weight she is carrying.
And A Safeguard
Hopefully very infrequently, but we may need outside assistance with some unexpected incident and may be unable to call for that assistance for some reason.
It is good practice, if possible, to leave contact numbers and details of the location of the hike and expected return time with some third party.
For example, if the group becomes lost due to navigation issues, or someone injures themselves and there is no cell coverage to call for assistance.
What better way to spend a fantastic day than in the beautiful outdoors. Now you have seven great steps to put your plan together and get out there with fellow-hiker friends and family.
Imagine how your social media friends will enjoy the beautiful photos you have taken with your smartphone for example.
So take the tips and make them your own. And perhaps for future reference make a list of the essentials to carry in your day pack, learning from your experience as you go. Other less experienced hikers may appreciate your guidance.
Imagine how it will feel, as your fitness, confidence, and experience grows, when you are the ‘go-to’ expert for getting a great day hike organized.