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Top Five Beginner Tips For Hiking

September 30, 2022

Need a break from the hustle and bustle of being a 20 something broke college kid who needs to have that Summer internship figured out IN OCTOBER. Go take a hike. Is that ACCT 212 project ready to cause you to rip your hair out? Go take a hike. Is that one girl on your hall who constantly has some passive aggressive comment on your fit ready to make you throw down?? GO TAKE A HIKE! There is no better way to get out of the stress of life than getting out into nature and enjoying Gods creation. Being in the mountains of Central Virginia offers plenty of opportunities to see some awesome views that are just waiting to be taken in. BUT! Before you set out to conquer Sharp Top; here is five pro-tips to make sure that your next hike is not only a safe hike–but an easy breezy and beautiful one!

Step 1: Make a Plan Stan:

Before you put on the Blundstones and overpriced Patagonia jacket, lets make sure that we do our due diligence. I know the idea of waking up at 2:30 PM on a Saturday and then heading out on that hall trip to Cole Mountain sounds like a fun time, but had you done your research you would have learned that the access road to get to Cole Mountain is TERRIBLE and your little bitty Toyota Prius isn’t gonna make it up that road Chloe!…Doing your homework is an important step in ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable hike. Just as if you were to go on vacation to a unfamiliar country, you’d be sure to do P-L-E-N-T-Y of research to ensure that you’re vacationing in a safe place, that the destination is a place that you would enjoy staying at, and that the accommodations fit your needs and wants. The same goes with hiking. Before you go, make sure to find out things like… “How far away the trail is from school?”, “How long is the trail?”, “What is the difficulty rating of the trail?” These types of questions will help you determine if that specific trail is somewhere that fits your skill level– and even if it is a place you want to invest hiking in. Additionally, please make sure that you pick the right time to go. Most hikes will take around 1-3 hours one way! Plan accordingly so that you are leaving early enough to allow for extra wiggle room, it may take longer to get there than you expected? The terrain could be challenging and take longer than you thought and whatever you do, NEVER HIKE AT NIGHT. That’s very dangerous and could result in getting lost, or worse…

Step 2: Lace them Boots Tight! :

Okay. We got our battle plan. Now to pick the fit! Alright, I’m just gonna say this as kindly as I can. This isn’t a hot girl walk, this is a hot girl HIKE. so be prepared to sweat A LOT! So make sure that what you’re wearing is not only comfortable, but something that you don’t care if it gets gross. Depending on the terrain of the trail you could get dirt, mud, water, snow, ice– sometimes all at the same time! So leave the expensive stuff for the gym and bust out that thrifted Goodwill shirt that you got for $3. Also, FOOTWEAR. SO IMPORTANT. Please for love of all that is good and Holy, leave the Vans at home! Your feet will thank you! It’s so important that you wear shoes that will provide good support to your feet. It’s so easy to get blisters while hiking, and that’s usually because people weren’t wearing the right shoes. I would highly recommend buying some sturdy hiking boots, make sure you pick a pair that has stiff traction to help with those pesky inclines. But– If you don’t want to throw down $100 bucks for hiking boots (which is totally understandable) then I’d recommend wearing a solid pair of sneakers, preferably high tops, that have a good amount of traction. Some recommendations are Hokas, Asics, or even New Balances are good picks. And one last important clothing tip, SOCKS. When hiking you don’t want to wear socks that are too thin, they can rub and cause major blisters. If you have hiking socks wear those! If not, then a nice pair of wool socks is a good alternative. If you dont have either…then double up on socks! SOCKS.

Step 3: Bring a Buddy:

The buddy system is probably one of the most important pieces of advice I could provide in this blog. You never know what could happen while on a hike, you could fall, break your leg, and need someone to take you to the hospital. You could become super dehydrated and pass out. Having a trusted friend to rely on could be the difference between a tragedy and a close call. Bringing a friend can also be a fun experience! Being immersed in nature, free from distractions is a great way to develop friendships and build stronger bonds! There is strength in numbers and having a companion can make hiking a much more enjoyable experience. Another important piece of advice is before you go, tell a different trusted person, could be a roommate, could be a RA, could be a parent. Tell a trusted person where you’re going, and when you plan to be back. This is just an extra precaution in case something happens while you are out. That way in case of an emergency you have someone who can contact the right authorities that can reach you and handle the situation. If you have signal while on the trail, send that person updates when you reach the summit, when you make it back down, and when you are back home; that way they know you’re safe and sound!

Step 4: BE PREPARED:

When packing out your daypack an important tip is to Be Prepared. You never know what is going to happen while you’re on the trail, so it’s always important to prepare for anything.

Some essentials to think about packing are things such as:

  • Extra water bottle
  • Granola bars, or protein snacks
  • Small first aid kit
  • Pocket knife
  • Rain Jacket or small umbrella
  • Flashlight
  • Trail Map
  • External phone charger
  • Extra clothes & socks
  • Bear spray/Pepper spray

These are just a few essentials, obviously pack as much as you feel comfortable packing– just be careful not to overpack. Remember everything you carry is going to be on your back for the entirety of the hike, if you are feeling that it’s too heavy at the bottom, it’s just gonna feel even worse at the top!…

Step 5: Into The Wild:

Last tip I could give you is to just have fun! seek to use this time in nature as a way to rest and reset from the stresses of being a college student. Whether you find the hike easy or hard, find joy in the process. Remember, it’s not a race–it’s a marathon; so take your time! Feel free to take breaks, eat a quick snack, rehydrate, and then keep going. Its normal to feel exhausted or tired (especially when you’re reaching the summit!) Just keep powering through and then soon enough you’ll be taking in all the breathtaking views. Hey. also bring a camera. That way you can take plenty of pictures to show all your Instagram followers that you are indeed a Granola Girl!

I hope you found this blog helpful in preparation of all your upcoming Fall hikes. Whether you’re a novice or an avid hiker, remember to respect nature and nature will respect you. And finally– always leave nothing but footsteps and take nothing but pictures. I’ll see you out on the trails!


 

Written by Jarad Alpert

Jarad is a Junior here at Liberty University. He is currently studying Marketing Sales: Promotions and Professional Selling, with a Minor in Studio Arts. In his free time, Jarad goes by the nickname Jay-Rad, because he is indeed RAD. Also, he play’s drums in the student band, Off The Record. He is passionate about art and music, loves hanging with friends, and being out in nature.