If you’re planning a hike soon times or are looking for things to do this coming weekend in the eastern part of north(ern) America, a.k.a. NY, I’d suggest you take advantage of the remaining fall weekends before the snow-shoveling-season begins. For the New York City folk, like myself, why not gather some friends and take a trip to Breakneck Ridge, which I highly recommend. But before you go, I’ve compiled some advice from the American Hiking Society as well as some practical tips I’ve learned, to make your hiking experience stress free and a little more enjoyable.
1. Wear Proper Shoes
I’d suggest investing in hiking shoes or boots, even if you go hiking only once or twice a year, hiking boots can last you a while and they can be used for other activities too, like… hiking. But trust me, going downhill at Breakneck Ridge with my fancy purple Nike sneakers was not the most pleasant time of the year, if you know what I mean. Your foot slides forward and your toes go numb halfway down.
Make sure you know the trail you want to walk well, sometimes it’s easy to start going down the wrong trail and before you know it your hike has turned into a 7 hour torture trek instead of the 2 hour climb & descent you expected. Plus you want to end up in a planned location, like where the car’s parked, not find yourself in the middle of some deserted road on the side of the highway with no civilization and no place to run. Bring a map, a GPS, learn the route, bring friends who know the route.
3. Bring a backpack
Get a backpack that can store everything you need. You’ll be bringing food and perhaps extra clothing, if you like to keep things organized, buy a compartmentalized backpack that can store all the things you need. But don’t overpack. Remember, you’re going to be carrying that weight with you the entire time.
You’ll want to bring some high-energy food because hiking is a draining exercise and if you failed at point 2, you never know when you’re going to have your next proper meal. Pack something that’s calorie-dense like protein bars, some trail mix, and food that doesn’t get spoiled in the heat. Also, bring some water.
5. Protection from the sun
If you’re hiking with kids protection from the sun is essential. Bring a hat, if you have one, to keep your eyes shielded, because sun glasses might not be the most comfortable when you’re sweating and panting uncontrollably while trekking up a hill (if it’s a steep hill).
6. Charge your phone
Just in case you need to make an emergency call or want to take a photo, you should have your phone charged. Also, if you have a smartphone, when you reach the top you can Facetime your relatives or friends and make them feel jealous. Bonus: you can make a Facebook post right on the spot.
7. First Aid Kit
Depending on the nature of your hike, you might need to bring some supplies just in case of an accident, like a cut or an encounter with poison ivy. Bring some bandaids. Actually, before you go, make sure you know what poison Ivy looks like and make sure not to touch it with bare skin, to keep yourself safe it’s best to wear pants that cover the whole leg and a long sleeved top.
8. Be prepared for rain
I personally wouldn’t suggest hiking in the rain, because you’ll be much more prone to slipping and falling, but if your trek is not too steep and it’s just a light drizzle, you might get away with just wearing a nylon poncho on top of yourself and over your backpack.
If you’re really adventurous you might like hiking when it’s dark out. Although too many gadgets these days have inbuilt flashlight, still make sure you have one… just in case tip number 2.
10. Extra Clothes
You might want to layer up before the trip or bring extra clothing with you just in case it gets cold. BUT, avoid wearing cotton because it keeps moisture close to your skin. Don’t forget to bring a hat!