Oftentimes there is no better way to really see and experience the local terrain of a destination than by hiking it. Hiking allows you to potentially go off of the grid and to explore what from afar may seem hidden from the average traveler. While hiking you can to touch, smell and interact with a destination in a way that is completely unique and that is as individual as the hiker hiking it. Hiking also represents an excellent form of exercise while simultaneously allowing you to experience a destination at your own pace. To have the healthiest hiking experience possible during your travels consider these few tips for staying healthy while hiking;
1 -Always stay on a designated hiking trail. This will help to ensure that you do not become lost. It will also help to ensure that you don’t have a run in with some pretty nasty plant life.
2 – Start your hike early. This will allow you to take your time and to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells along the way. It will also help to lessen the likelihood that you will find yourself trying to complete your hike in the dusk or dark.
3 – Avoid hiking in poor weather like thunderstorms, snowstorms and fog. These conditions increase your risk for lightening strike, hypothermia and losing your bearings and getting lost.
4 – Pack plenty of water so that you can remain well hydrated.
- If you plan on drinking water from local rivers or streams boil that water before drinking it for at least 3 minutes. If you do not have a source of heat to boil the water then treat it with a disinfectant. Fresh water when not disinfected or boiled can contain parasites like Giardia. These parasites can cause gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea that can last for 2 weeks or more.
- Water disinfectants that can be purchased include Halazone and Crystalline Iodine.
5 – Pack plenty of high energy foods to consume. These foods can include;
- Nuts and dried fruit
- Beef Jerky
- Peanut Butter
- Power Bars
6 – Dress in layers. If you start your hike early in the morning it may be cool or even cold (especially in mountains or at high altitudes). As the day progresses it may become progressively warmer. By dressing in layers you can keep well covered when it is cold, remove layers when it warms and then reapply those layers if it gets cool again.
7 – Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
8 – Wear boots that provide good ankle support. Hiking on uneven terrain in particular increases the risk for injuring the ankles and falling.
9 – Carry a flashlight or headlight. Sometimes while hiking (especially in densely packed forests), darkness can sneak up on you quickly.
10 – Bring multiple pairs of socks. While hiking the feet will often sweat. When socks and the feet are persistently damp the skin softens and can then be easily traumatized.
- ALWAYS PACK MOLESKIN. If you develop a blister or even if you are only developing a “hot spot” on your foot/feet, apply the moleskin to the area. Moleskin acts like a second layer or protective skin and can prevent worsening skin damage.
11 – Pack a small first aid kit that includes
- A topical antibiotic like Neosporin that can be applied to wounds.
- Cleansing pads that contain Lidocaine (a local anesthetic) to clean and simultaneously numb open wounds.
- Pain relievers like Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen.
- Antihistamines like Benadryl to treat any environmental allergies or any allergic reactions to stings, bites or poison plants.
- Hydrocortisone cream to apply to bug bites and/or rashes.
- Forceps or tweezers to remove splinters or debris from wounds.
- Gauze rolls and bandages to cover wounds.
12 – Consider carrying a hiking pole with you. Hiking poles can help you to steady yourself (especially when hiking up inclines or on uneven terrain). A hiking pole can also be used to ward off any aggressive animals that may be encountered.
13 – Always inform someone of your hiking itinerary and of your expected time of return.