For any of those who know me, I am a city girl. I have little experience with nature. The few camping memories I can recall from my childhood involve swimming pools and showers (my family was never one for roughing it). I’m not sure about you, but it seems like everyone else loves hiking and camping. I can’t scroll through Facebook or Instagram without seeing at least one picture of someone standing at the top of a rock looking triumphant.
Since I am determined to push myself outside my comfort zone and experience a wide variety of activities, I added hiking to my Summer 2016 Bucket List. After just one adventure, I am ready for more! If you want to experience the beauty for yourself, be sure to pack accordingly. Don’t leave your driveway without these 11 items:
Trust me, you are going to want to leave the house early in the morning. You don’t want to be hiking up a mountain in the middle of the afternoon. But, when you leave the house at the crack of dawn, it is going to be cold!
As soon as that sun rises, you are going to want to sunscreen up! You are going to leave the hike with beautiful pictures and happy memories, but a sunburn is one thing you don’t want to bring home. “I don’t burn. I mind as well get a little tan while I am out in the sun,” is what I know some of you are thinking. Don’t forget that you are going to be in hiking clothes and tennis shoes — those tan lines are not going to be cute!
Being a city girl, the whole restroom situation didn’t cross my mind when I walked out of the house. Thank goodness my mom always carries baby wipes with her. When we pulled in the parking lot after a 45 minute drive, I was shocked to see portapotties at the trail entrance. The hike would’ve turned out much different had I not had baby wipes to use when I went potty before the start.
You don’t need to be an Eagle Scout with a high-tech compass to navigate you way along the hiking trails at your local parks. That being said, be sure to print a map of the park from the website before you leave. My first hike was at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Trabuco Canyon, CA. A quick Google search brought up this map. At each fork in the road, we were able to glance down and confirm the name of the trail we wanted to go down.
This is an obvious one. A hike isn’t exactly a stroll along the beach. You are going to break a sweat and you don’t want to be halfway into the trail when you finish your last sip of water. Be sure to pack enough water for you and all your hiking partners! Keep hydrated.
I was surprised when I arrived at the park and had to pay a couple of dollars to park in the lot. The pay machines were far from high-tech. Instead, they were cash only. Make sure you throw some singles in your wallet when you head out in case you need to pay to park.
You may swear by your Vans and Converse but they are not going to cut it on your hike. Save yourself from blisters or sore feet and wear shoes made for walking or running. Plus, there is a high likelihood that the trail is dusty or muddy. You don’t want your cute shoes to get dirty.
Be sure you stay nourished as you hike. A growling tummy might force you turn around too soon. Or who knows, you might love hiking so much that you want to go a little further than your planned, and this might push your lunch back another hour. An easy solution is to throw some trail mix or granola bar in you backpack to be safe.
Nature truly is the definition of beauty. You are going to want to snap a few pictures along the way. While your smartphone may have a powerful camera, bring along a real camera so you can keep your phone stowed away in your backpack. The gorgeous hike is the perfect opportunity to unplug yourself for a little bit. Don’t let emails and snapchats distract you from the present; they can wait until you get home.
As you walk down the trail, you are going to wind your way in all directions. At one point or another, you are going to be headed towards the sun. Walking with your eyes practically shut will definitely take away from the experience. Take along your sunglasses so you can keep your eyes wide open. (Again, be sure to apply sunscreen – even to your face. You don’t want to get home just to realize that you have raccoon eyes. Sadly, I know from past experience that it is not a cute look).
Place all of these must-have items into a backpack for easy transport. You may be thinking that backpacks aren’t as cute as your Longchamp tote or Billabong crossbody, but they are more practical. After ten minutes of hiking with a purse, there is good chance you will be annoyed or in pain. Even out the weight by bringing along a backpack to wear on both shoulders.
Now, get going!
You are all set for your first hike. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!