Getting prepared for a hike is a very important part of the process to make sure your hike is enjoyable and productive. Enjoying the hike is a main reason for going on a hike, if you do not enjoy it why would you go. Being productive on the hike simply means getting something out of the hike. The physical and mental rewards from being in the outdoors enjoying the surroundings and challenging your mind and body are results of being productive.
Physically preparing for the hike includes a few tasks that will help make the hike enjoyable and productive as well as keep you safe. Getting in good enough shape to take on the hike is an important first step. The shape you need to be in varies depending upon the difficulty of the hike. Going on a short hike on a flat trail at low elevation is much different than preparing for a thru hike on the Pacific Coast Trail. Once you have achieved the conditioning needed for the hike you are going to tackle; the next thing to do is warm up and lightly stretch to make sure the body is ready for the hike. Hydration and energy are two items to complete before heading out, once again much different levels of hydration and food needed for different hikes. Gear is one last consideration, picking the right shoes, socks, and layers of clothes and laying them out ahead of time is a good idea.
Mentally preparing for the hike is just as important to a successful hike as physical preparation. When I get ready for a hike, I like to clear my mind and prepare to experience what I am going to see on that hike. Clearing my mind ahead of time allows me to enjoy what I see hear and feel. This also allows for mindfulness on the hike whether that is at a certain point in the hike or during the hike absorbing all of the senses around me. Determining what you are going hiking for is also important; is it the view at the top, the beauty along the way or the enjoyment of the company you have with you. Some articles talk about setting goals to accomplish for each hike or part of the hike. No matter what the goal is mentally preparing for the hike is an important aspect of reaching the goal.
Preparing for the hike through physical and mental preparation minimizes the possibility of injuries and accidents. Being injured or having a hiking accident are detrimental to enjoying hiking in the present and the future. Proper preparation is key to really enjoying the hike and getting the most out of the hike. The amount of preparation is variable depending upon the length and difficulty of the hike but preparation is key to all hikes.
Prepare yourself for a great hike, get out there, and enjoy the outdoors!