Hiking 101

A friend asked me to write this(sort of).  We don’t hike as much as we would like and time would allow but we get out as often as we can.  All of our hikes are ‘day’ hikes.  Generally, a few hours.  And most within a couple of hours or so from Calgary.  It is nice being near some of the most spectacular hiking areas in the world. Hiking 101 basics will be the same for anywhere but there are certain points that will vary depending on where in the world you are, type of climate, terrain, etc.

  1. Water. Always take some with you. Even if it is a short hike.  I don’t drink much while I’m hiking, mostly before and after but hate not having it when thirsty.  And if you are for some reason longer than you planned…
  2. Bring your garbage back.  This seems pretty obvious but there are some hikes/walks that get pretty bad.  If you don’t want to carry a lot of stuff but need water, use a disposable plastic bottle and crunch it up and put in a pocket when you are done. We will, more often than not, bring bits of someone else’s garbage back.  If you really want to see how bad it can get, hike Johnson Canyon near Banff.  
  3. Proper footwear. This is going to be personal.  Some can get through a good hike with a good pair of rugged sandals.  I like a sturdy pair of hiking boots.  Sometimes I wear a good pair of sneakers as they can be cooler if it is hot.  Extra pair of socks.
  4. Clothing. I almost always bring an extra shirt, particularly when doing a long or strenuous hike – and this is not always easy to predict.  My son Spencer and I hiked Ha Ling near Canmore a couple of years ago in the middle of July.  I was pouring sweat when I reached the top(I’m not sure Spencer was even breathing hard) and even though is was quite hot at the start of the hike it was snowing and chilly at the top.  If I had not had a dry shirt to change into, I would have gotten quite chilly. And that can sap your energy.
  5. Clothing 2. Dress or bring clothes for the weather and potential weather.  Here in the mountains, the weather can change dramatically in a very short period.  I tend to dress in layers so when hot, I can remove a layer.  And in this climate a light rain jacket is important to have.
  6. Clothing 3. A hat. Bring or wear a hat. 
  7. Food. Bring some.  Even if it is some energy bars.  I hate them but bring something.  Some hikes we will plan a small picnic at the top.  
  8. Do a bit of research on the area you are going to hike.  When I hiked in Oregon and California there was poison oak. I react to it pretty badly but I like hiking so was able to find some poison oak honey when I lived in Oregon. As long as I taking this pretty regularly, I didn’t have a problem with it.  In Alberta one needs to be aware that there are bears about.  Carrying some bear spray is not such a bad idea. 
  9. Obey signs.  I’ll let you use your judgement on this one but here is a story when I didn’t: I was hiking at Smith Rock park in eastern Oregon some years ago.  The signs all over near the river and lower part said to stay on the trail.  I was taking some pictures along the trail and when done thought rather than go around, I’d take the short cut across the grass and stuff. My second step I heard this rattle a few inches from my left foot – I moved like Ben Johnson off the starting block!  I tend to obey certain signs more now.
I will add to this later but this is good for now. If you have something you deem important enough to put on here, please email me. 
Here is a pic of me atop Smith Rock in Oregon:This was before ‘selfies’ – I had to get someone else to shoot this.

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