One of our favorite things to do in our RV adventures is search for good day hikes near new destinations! As a matter of fact, it’s one of the reasons we choose for destinations. Most of them are in National Parks and State Parks, but others, we find either by driving or location research (i.e. word of mouth, Google, fellow like-minded RVers, etc.).
Make no mistake, we do not consider ourselves extreme hikers but we’ve hiked enough of them that we know our way around enjoying a good hike and a memorable trail.
As it may be for others, we don’t make our hike a ‘workout’ for us; it’s not a race but it is indeed, good exercise. Though we are proud of ourselves when we look at our Fitbit at the end of the day, it’s not a contest to see how far we’ve gone. Our hiking experiences are immeasurable memories.
When we first began hiking, I would get so doggone frustrated because Captain Dan would increasingly steps in front of me. I had to remind him that I had ‘Corgi legs compared to his Great Dane legs’. After a few times of him seeing me fall behind, I think that he finally got the message. We referred ourselves back to our days in the military that you put the person with the shortest stride in front to be your ‘Gideon’ in road marches. We took that same principle to our trekking excursions; becoming more fun for both of us.
Our main re reason of why we like to hike is observing wildlife, learning about plants and trees, taking photographs and enjoying the outdoors.
Now, our son Dana, a 30some year old experienced hiker and camper, oftentimes teases us on the phone calling us ‘nature walkers’. That said, for 50some year olds, we’re pretty proud of our outdoor experiences. Most hikes we endure are considered ‘strenuous’ or ‘moderate’ according to skilled and experienced hiking enthusiasts.
We aren’t afraid of challenging slopes, grades, steps, rocks and we certainly aren’t apprehensive of distance but we take our time and watch our step. We do keep in mind of our time; after all, we are day-hikers which means we need to be back before dusk.
We usually are on the trail by mid-morning. Since we both don’t take to cold mornings anymore, 9:00 am is our goal. We always pack a good nutritious lunch with fresh cut veggies, fruits, protein (i.e. cooked chicken, tuna, walnuts, etc.), with some fun healthy carbs.
We always have plenty of water which, besides good hiking shoes, is the most important. Dan carries about three to four 16oz bottles in his pack and I have a 2 liter Camelback. We keep more in the truck for replenishment on our journey back to the next trail or our home on wheels.
We always drink a bottle first thing in the morning as well as packing in a good solid breakfast. As we former military peeps always say, ‘hydrate or die, don’t be that guy’, so, before we hit the trails, we equip ourselves with a few sensible things for our hikes:
Hiking shoes or boots
Get properly fitted for the right shoes or boots for hiking. These will determine whether you want to get up and go. Shoes are the absolute most important gear you will appreciate…and so will your whole body. I used to think Gortex were the best, however, personally I’ve found since we are not hiking in cold and wet climates, it’s simply not necessary.
I’d rather have breathable, fast-drying hikers in case we do end up in a stream or puddles. The treads on your hikers should be deep tread, flexible and ‘grippy’. Feel inside for protruding seams and bumps that may present blistering issues on the trails. When getting fitted for hiking shoes, take the socks you plan on hiking in with you.
Don’t make the same mistake I made while hiking at Glacier National Park. I bought these cute, cotton-woven, colorful socks that, less than an hour of hiking, I got the most painful blisters on the backs of my heels. Try new socks before going hiking. Socks are such a personal thing; you’ve got to find what fits and is most comfortable to you.
Wick-away socks are great as they pull moisture away from your skin. You do not want wet or damp feet. Make certain your shoes do not ride or chafe your heels or you’ll be sorry.
Ours have been properly fitted by outdoor specialists. Seriously, skip the school backpacks. They simply won’t work and really, I don’t know how kids carry their books in those things. You don’t want to injure your body carrying something that does not fit exactly. No wonder young adults have so many back issues by the time they are in their 20’s. We’ve invested in good fitting and lightweight day-packs.
Dan’s has a Coleman and I wear a North Face. Daypacks and backpacks are not created equal and never are they a one-size-fits-all. In picking a pack, you get what you pay for. Take time to properly fit yourself. Consider fit and function over fashion.
You want your pack to be organized with separate pockets and compartments so your supplies are exactly where you want them and for weight distribution. You don’t want all your stuff in the bottom of your pack; makes for frustrating moments when you’re trying to find something. Tug at the seams and zippers to insure they won’t break or pull away from the fabric.
Brightly colored rain poncho, first aid kit, extra bottles of water, water filter straw, flashlight, signal mirror, compass, sunglasses, sunscreen, granola and trail snacks, ibuprofen, binoculars, sunscreen, bug spray, emergency reflective blanket (those shiny, chrome-like ones that fold up in your pocket), external cellphone USB battery chargers, pocket knife, tissues/toilet paper, small pack of wipes and…drum roll…for you ladies out there reading this, a ‘Go Girl’ for your potty breaks in the wild.
Some hikers use two poles; we hike with one each, although we may eventually graduate to using two. Trekking poles are not only support when stepping up or down but seriously, in rattle snake country, we use them to poke in holes, rock crevices and bushes before stepping forward. Better for the poles to get bit than feet or legs.
When buying your trekking poles, make sure you get the ones with removable rubber tips that have points to dig into packed dirt for stability. Hand straps should be adjustable. We prefer telescoping adjustable-length poles made out of titanium as they are super strong, easy to collapse and store on our packs when we don’t need them.
The wood hiking poles are cool too; we just prefer the telescoping ones.
Be comfortable on your hikes. It’s not a fashion statement even though the outdoor clothing industry has made it that way. Most times, we wear brightly colored ‘wick-away’ long sleeve tops as our base and layer on that if needed for cooler weather. The last thing you want is to get wind or sunburn. Most animals are color blind, so they won’t see us (or so we think)but visibility on the trails is important in the event that we get lost.
On shorter hikes, we may wear t-shirt but we have outer shells that are brightly colored. For good reason in case we get lost, they are great for visibility. We both wear quick-dry hiking trousers with deep, zippered pockets and belt loops. I personally like the ones that stretch a little for easier movement and climbing.
Trust me when I say, as a middle-aged average size woman hiker writing this article, good luck finding them.
Once you find a pair that fits you, buy five more pair because I assure you, whoever makes them will go out of business tomorrow or discontinue that design or fit.
We always wear a belt; if needed, can act as a tourniquet in case of first aid emergency.
Head Cover or Hat
We prefer lightweight and brightly colored ball caps that shield our faces, protect our heads from the sun and so we can be seen. There is a plethora of varieties and styles of headwear out there. Find one that you like. Again, this isn’t a fashion statement. Dress for the elements. Consider hats that cover your ears and necks.
We don’t wear them; although, at this time, I’m researching for a good pair. I’ve found on our last hike, I’ve developed a blister or two using my trekking poles. Also, they are essential for rock climbing and grabbing and um…..unplanned falling.
GPS – Global Positioning System
We didn’t get one yet but really, by staying on the labeled trails, you won’t really need them. Looking at handhelds or a wearable GPS.
We use our cellphones for photography because we don’t want to lug around our big DSLR camera. We also have a small selfie stick because no one
takes better photos than we do.
We pick these up at the National Park or State Park check-in or online and keep them in a Ziploc bag to protect them from the elements. We don’t rely on
phone apps as most times, we are in areas of no cell or data coverage and
well…when we hike, we want to be unplugged.
Fitbit or Activity Tracker
We use our archaic simple-to-monitor Fitbit not only to track what we can brag about but also monitor our paces and distance. There are other brands out there that may work for you better or easier. At the end of every hike, we like to take a photo of our final numbers so we can sit back and enjoy seeing our accomplishment.
These are a just a few preparations to get you started your own good day-hikes. Remember, hiking doesn’t have to be an excruciating and miserable workout…and shouldn’t be.Do keep in mind, it’s always best to start with a good hearty breakfast, lots of water and STRETCH before putting your pack on and grabbing your trekking poles. As former motorcyclists, we always said ‘ride your own ride’. Hiking takes on the same principle…HYOH…”hike your own hike”.
Most importantly and we can’t stress this enough, leave your loved ones a HIKE PLAN. Provide departure and estimated arrival times, location coordinates, park and hiking info that could prove beneficial and lifesaving should something happen on the trails.
Enjoy your journey of the outdoors. Take the time to smell the flowers and take lots of photos to show your friends and family the awesome places you’ve hiked but leave only your footprints.