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Some constants when you take a hike

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It's hard to beat the hiking possibilities around the greater Sacramento area. Within a relatively short distance, the choices vary from ocean, to foothills, to the mountains.

There's simply more trails of more types than the average person can count. There are paved trails that are mostly flat, and there are trails that require a good deal of knowledge and gear to complete, and everything in between.

The trail closest to the Sacramento area is the paved American River Bike Trail. 32 miles of rolling paved trail that runs along both sides of the American River. Out and back, if the math is correct, it's 64 miles of wonderful urban wildland interface.

Down in the Bay Area, there a quite a few places to hike along the ocean shore, or the slightly inland wooded areas.

There are paved trails at Meyers, and South Lake Tahoe, along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, and in Incline Village.

Placerville has two wonderful paved trails too, which run along the old narrow gauge railroad bed that used to haul logs from Camino to Sacramento.

Head up either Interstate 80, US Highway 50, or State Routes 88 or 89, and you'll find mountain trails and treks that range from pretty mild to ones that you'd better hope you're in shape for, with the right gear.

The hiking season generally starts in spring and runs through to the first snows of autumn. It's a good long run of time, with greatly varying weather conditions.

It doesn't matter what your personal choice of wonderment is when it comes to hiking. There's something for everyone. What does matter are a few constants that all hikers should pay attention to.

  • Before you leave for your hike, check the weather. Best place is NOAA.
  • Take rain gear or something to keep you dry, no matter what the weather report is.
  • Fill out the permits if they are needed.
  • Take more than enough water to last for your trip. If it's an extended trip, take a portable water purifier.
  • Take more than enough food for your trip, plus a bit more.
  • Wear layers. Shed them or add them as conditions dictate.
  • Include a hat with your gear.
  • A flashlight, with good batteries needs to go with you.
  • Take a knife, matches, a compass, and a good first aide pack. Know how to use the compass.
  • Bring a map of where you are going, know how to read it, and how a compass connects to it.
  • Understand that your electronic gizmos may not work out in the forest. Depending on them is foolish.
  • Let someone know where you are headed, when you are leaving, and when you think you'll be back.
  • Hike with a buddy. Going out alone can be weird if you get injured.
  • Stay on the trails. Going off trail can cause erosion that really isn't needed.
  • Turn around and look back, frequently, as you hike. On the return, you'll be glad you did.
  • If you take it in, pack it out. There are no forest fairies that will clean up after you.
  • Mother Nature doesn't care about you at all. If you don't take care, consequences can be really bad.
  • Leave no trace that you were out there.

All of that is to say that you simply need to be prepared and use a great deal of common sense when you head out into the forest, along the shore, or even in town on a paved path.

There's a great wonderful world out there for you to enjoy. Plan, take the right stuff, and pay attention. You'll love it.

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