As a child I loved to wander the hills surrounding our home in rural Pennsylvania. Today, preparing for a day hike up Chinese Mountain on Quadra Island, I get that same feeling of wanderlust as I pull my backpack from the closet and fill it with hiking gear and food.
One of the great things about hiking is how affordable and accessible it is. Very little special equipment is required. A comfortable pair of good hiking boots or shoes (depending on the trail), and a well-stocked backpack complete with water, energizing eats, and the standard hiking basics is all it takes to get you safely on the trail and back again.
Food for the Trail
We know the importance of taking a variety of high-energy, easy-to-eat foods and plenty of water on our sojourn. Eating lightly, but frequently, is the key to staying energized while hiking. Not eating enough can lead to dizziness, cramps, nausea, and fatigue.
Trail mix, sometimes called gorp, is considered by veteran hikers to be one of the best and most convenient quick energy foods. Primarily a combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, trail mix can also include chunks of carob or chocolate or chocolate chips. We always make our own, but a variety of trail-mix blends and energy bars are readily available at health food stores. We keep our food selections lightweight, compact, and easy to carry. Cheese and crackers or a pull-tab can of salmon or vegetarian p? are a special trail treat. Fresh fruit, especially crisp apples, make a refreshingly nutritious snack. Remember, a strenuous hike can quickly lead to perspiration and water loss, so drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
What to Wear
Organic cotton and hemp clothing, including shorts, pants, hats, and even hiking boots, are now available from several hiking and mountain equipment suppliers. A natural, toxin-free insect repellent and long-lasting SPF sunblock are two more important items to always have in your backpack.
Pack It In, Pack It Out
Every hiker knows the rule: whatever you come in with, you leave with. In other words, always pack out all your garbage. Mother Nature is not your maid or your refuse container, so leave nothing behind. If you want to give your karma a positive boost, you could even pick up any trash you find along the trail.
Day-Hike Reminders and Checklist:
- Don’t hike alone.
- Pack a first-aid kit.
- Dress in layers.
- Don’t drink water from lakes, streams, or rivers.
- Pack a headlamp or flashlight.
- Bring matches (in a waterproof container).
- Pack a pocket knife.
- Make a trip plan and leave it with a friend.
- Bring a whistle.