One of the great treats that Sacramento has to offer, is the endless list of natural venues available at every turn. Whether you travel the Cosumnes River Preserve or explore Folsom Lake, a day hike is a great way to escape the trappings of our daily lives. But before running out of the front door, prepare for the trail. Here are five things to make the adventure safe and enjoyable:
Always have a travel companion. Safety is the primary consideration. The other person could be critical in getting medical help, if it is needed. Having a second person on the trail is also great for laughter, conversation, and motivation.
Be sure to wear appropriate footwear. If there are challenges on the trail, a hiker's feet are going to take the bulk of the abuse. Be sure your footwear matches the demands of the trail.
Plan your outing. While planning in advance, you will get a better grasp of the terrain, distances, times, fees, and weather you might encounter. Find out what amenities are available in the area. You might be able to easily walk a few miles around town, but those same fews miles can seem like an eternity when you're walking through the brush, gravel, mud, cold, and rain. Know what time the sun sets. Remember, no matter where you are on the trail, you still have to turn around and get back safely during daylight hours. Tell someone else where you are going. Don't count on a cell phone as your only source of communication; there probably won't be any cell service on the trail. Let someone know what park you are going to visit, the name of the trail-head you are going to hike, and what time you are going to start. Think of it as both a way to share your activities and as an added layer of safety. Unfortunately, rescue workers spend too many hours endlessly searching for lost hikers because they don't have enough information for a focused search.
Ease into a hiking routine. After having researched an outing, physically prepare for the hike by slowly increasing the physical demands of the trail. Don't overexert yourself. Allow your body to get used to an increasing level of physical stress. Start with an easy path, then work up to increasingly difficult trails. If there are any medical issues or concerns, consult your doctor.
Carry a few essentials. Here's a short list of things that could be very helpful on a trek. All of this should fit into a small pack.
- Most hikers bring extra bottles of water. Staying hydrated is a must.
- Be sure to carry extra calories to help fight your hunger. One trail favorite is granola bars.
- A compass. After hours of climbing, twisting and turning, it's very easy to become disoriented.
- A cell phone can still be helpful. Remember, it probably won't work for phone calls, but it might be useful for establishing a GPS location, photographs, and notes.
- A small first-aid kit. A stretchable ace-bandage is important if there is an ankle or wrist injury.
With a little advance planning, hiking adventures can be a wonderful release from your everyday life. Good luck and happy hiking!