Hiking is a popular summertime activity, but there are some things you ought to know before you step on the trail. Here are some Do’s and Dont's from our hiking enthusiasts and Staheekum supporters, @machaelaswartout and @kara_wandering. Follow them for more hiking content and photography!
What are your top hiking “DO's” for hiking in the summertime regarding...
Kara: DO Bring the 10 Essentials: If it's a longer hike, I bring enough to safely stay the night outside. Extra food, extra water (or water tablets to purify water sources) and an emergency blanket. I get everything packed and ready the night before, including water and food, which makes alpine starts much easier.
Machalea: DO Research your Hike: Trails and weather change all of the time so it’s important to look on WTA or AllTrails at past trip reports to find any important information on road condition to the trail head, trail conditions, what gear is needed, etc.
K: Do bring The 10 essentials. (navigation, headlamp, spf, first aid, knife, fire starter, emergency shelter, extra food, extra water, extra clothes). I also bring bear spray or pepper spray, and hiking poles. I suggest bringing at least 1 hiking pole every hike; it can be used as a splint, protection, or a crutch in case of emergency, not to mention they're great for your knees.
M: Do Pack Lots of Water and Food. Bring more water and food than you’ll think you’ll need. Also pack the 10 essentials: Navigation, headlamp/lighting, first aid, sunscreen/sun protection, knife, fire starters (matches, lighter, stove, etc), shelter, extra food, extra water, and extra clothes. Mosquitos can ruin a fun time real quickly so remember your bug spray too.
K: DO Follow Leave No Trace Principles. If you're stepping outside, you need to follow Leave No Trace principles... or stay home. They're easy to google, but essentially treat mother nature like you're a guest in her home. Be respectful, and never feed wildlife.
M: DO Stay on the Trail at All Times. Trails are created and maintained for reason: they’re typically the safest route and following the same trail helps to preserve delicate ecosystems that are created off of the trail. Also, staying on the trail decreases your risk of getting lost or injured. Both seem like pluses to me!
DO Pack it Out. If you carried it in, you better be able to carry it out! There’s nothing more frustrating then going on a hike and seeing wrappers and toilet paper on a hike.
DO Bring a Trash Bag. If you see an issue with trash as noted above, consider bringing a trash bag (and gloves) to pick up trash along the hike. Don’t let a few bad apples ruin the trail for everyone!
K: DO Watch Your Step. This is why we bring a first aid kit and hiking poles with us. I once fell into a lake on a 11 mile hike, I sliced my foot open. As I was falling I knew whatever was going to happen, I would be okay because I bring all my safety gear every time (including pain killers for emergency use). I was able to bandage my foot, take Advil and make it to the car no problem.
M: DO Bring a First Aid Kit. Even if it’s a simple cut that can be covered with a bandaid, it’s important to clean and cover wounds to make sure they don’t get infected. Have the 10 essentials as listed above.
DO Have an SOS Beacon in Case You Need Help. Have your SOS beacon attached in an easily accessible place so that if you fall or can’t move that you can easily reach it to get help.
K: DO Enjoy the Solace. Solo hiking is my favorite thing in the world. As long as you start safely and slowly, work up to bigger hikes and be diligent... it's an incredible and peaceful activity. I've written a blog post on safety in the wilderness, it's called "Women in the Wild: A Guide on Mountain Safety for Female Solo Hikers." https://www.wanderfullywild.com/post/women-in-the-wild-a-guide-on-mountain-safety-for-female-solo-hikers
M: DO Let Others Know Where You're Going. Let friends know where you are hiking, when you are leaving, and when you should be back. In the very off-chance you get lost, somebody will know you should have been back by a certain time and can call SAR if necessary.
DO Hike With a Friend or Two if You Can. Although hiking alone can be very peaceful, consider hiking with others for safety reasons
K: DO Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Your body will be dehydrated after a hike, so drink loads of water and electrolytes. And stretch. If you have an old injury, icing helps. Make yourself rest a bit after a hike, your body will thank you.
M: DO Eat Lots of Protein. When you hike or do something physically strenuous your muscle fibers break down due to the sheer stress. Protein is the building blocks of our bodies and muscles so it’s important to eat protein to help build back those muscles. Eating protein will also help decrease feelings of soreness which means you’ll feel eager to hit the trails without the pain of sore muscles holding you off for a week.
Image by @machaelaswartout
What are your top hiking “DON’Ts” for hiking in the summertime regarding...
K: Don't Procrastinate. Don't wait until the last minute to pack so you're rushed. You'll forget something!
M: Don’t wear brand new hiking boots for the first time on a big trail. You will have terrible blisters likely and won’t be able to hike comfortably until they heal so start by wearing them around your house or on small walks/hikes to break them in.
K: DON'T Pack Too Light. Always bring enough. If your bag is heavy, its okay! Better to be safe than sorry, and your quad muscles will thank you for the extra bag weight.
M: DON'T Pack More Than You Can Carry. If you’re an overpacker, you know that feeling of that excess weight on your back. Do your best to only pack essential items you know you’ll need and use.
Don't Pack a Speaker. I know you probably enjoy your music, but not everyone else does. Bring some headphones so that others can enjoy the sounds of nature!
Protecting the environment/wildlife?
K: DON'T Leave Anything Behind. And never take anything while you're hiking. Don't pick wild flowers, collect rocks, etc. either.
M: DON'T Get Too Close to Wildlife. We’ve all seen those videos of tourists at Yellowstone getting charged by bison… NEVER and I mean NEVER feed the wildlife. This makes wildlife become dependent on getting food from humans and can cause animals to become more aggressive to humans in hopes of gaining a reward (food!). A lot of food we eat is not good for animals.
Getting injured while on a hike?
K: DON'T Panic! You'll be okay!
M: DON'T Panic. Try to take a deep breath and gather your thoughts: what are your options, did you pack anything that would be helpful (splint, first aid kit, extra clothes, etc).
DON'T Continue on the Trail (if it’s an out and back). We all want to reach our final destination of the hike for the reward of making it and typically: THE VIEW. But if you’re injured and can safely walk (or hobble), turn around and try to make your way back to the trailhead or to find help. If you cannot move, don’t try! Wait and/or call for help.
K: DON'T Push Too Hard. Know that if you're prepared, you'll be totally fine. But don't push yourself past your limits.
M: DON'T Hike Off Trail. You may get lost and may put yourself in a risky situation.
Make sure to let others know where you're hiking.
Recovering from a hike?
K: DON'T Overdo It. Give your body time to rest. The mountains will always be there!
M: DON'T Eat a Ton of Processed Junk Food. Your body needs good food to fuel itself from all of that work! (But by all means, treat yourself - Have that candy bar or pizza, just make sure to get some Whole Foods in there too!)
Do you recommend out-and-back trails or loops and why?
K: I love both. If I had to choose I'd do a loop, it feels more complete to me :)
M: I don’t necessarily have a preference - if it gets me outdoors and in nature I’m happy! In hindsight though I typically tend to hike out-and-back trails. Out and back trails are fun because you can recognize places you passed on your way there and it can help comfort you that you’re on the right trail and not lost. Loop trails are fun because there’s always something new to see on the trail.
Hardest hike you’ve ever done and why you’re proud of it?
K: I once backpacked 12 miles and 4,000 ft elevation gain into the Cascade mountain range with a 35 pound bag, fueled by a 5 hour energy and shot of tequila. Haha. Best backpacking experience of my life. But also grueling!
M: Lunch Counter Mt. Adams. This hike was probably the most challenging due to several reasons: lack of physical preparation, lack of sleep, and difficulty of trail. I am a very physically active person and lift/workout 5-6 times a week but I wasn’t in the best mountain climbing shape. This combine with lack of sleep from the night before made the climb to lunch counter a bit more challenging especially since I had 40+ pounds on my pack. We got up to lunch counter and set up camp so that we could sleep and summit the following day but my husband became sick with altitude sickness, having hallucinations and nausea. We decided to pack it up and make our way back down - I helped out by carrying about 10 pounds of his pack weight on my already heavy bag which made it challenging as well. But the most important thing was we were safe and he started to feel better by the time we got back down to the car. Always know your limits and when to turn around - some days your body is just not having it and that’s okay!
What’s your favorite way to relax and reward yourself after completing a strenuous outdoor hike or climb?
K: Yummy food or drink of some kind. And fur baby cuddles!
M: Like I said, I’m all about fueling my body the right way but nothing quite hits the spot like some pizza after a hike. I’ll usually combine it with a homemade protein smoothie or salad to make sure I’m getting a variety of nutrients. Another thing I do is stretching and rolling out. Right before bed my husband and I spend 30 minutes stretching out and rolling out our muscles. This helps to decrease any muscle tightness or soreness the following day.
Our favorite way to relax is to wear some of our comfortable and sustainable slippers.