Few things are more restorative than getting out into nature. Nature feeds the body, the mind, and the spirit in ways that nothing else can reach. One way to get out into nature more often is to take up hiking. Hiking is for everyone! It can rigorously challenge the fittest among us, and be gentle enough for the recently sedentary. However, when it comes to hiking, safety should always come first.
Bring Plenty of Water
Even if you are just going for a brief jaunt, take plenty of water. Especially in the heat of summer, dehydration can quickly become an emergency situation. You never know when you will take a wrong turn and end up going further than you planned. In general, you need 16 ounces of water for each hour of hiking. When calculating how long your hike will take, be sure to factor in elevation gains. A mile of flat trail will take far less time than a mile of steep incline. Also, if temperatures are high or you will be under full sun exposure, bring more water.
Stay Safe in the Sun
Don’t underestimate the power of the sun, especially if you will be hiking at high elevations. This is due to the thinner air at high altitudes, which allows the sun’s UV rays to penetrate more intensely. Additionally, watch out for the deceptive nature of cloud cover. Even on overcast days, UV rays can damage your skin. Be sure to apply sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30. Remember your ears and the top of your head, and reapply every two hours. It is also a good idea to wear a hat. A bad sunburn is a horrible end to what should be a positive experience.
Bring a Buddy
The most important rule when hiking is to always bring a buddy, especially in the deep wilderness. Whenever you go out into nature, you are taking some amount of risk. The wild is full of animal life, safety hazards, and unpredictable weather. Anyone can succumb to any of these risks, no matter their fitness level or amount of experience. When you have a buddy, you can help each other out in case of an emergency.
Hiking is a wonderful way to release stress, commune with nature, and reconnect with God. Just be sure to do it safely. Bring a buddy, wear sun protection, and pack in plenty of water. If you take the right precautions, hiking can be a powerful addition to your wellness practice.
Check out this article on how to release tension that’s building up inside you!