How to prepare for a hike

By Carly Newton

Baxter Mountain sunrise. Photo via Arthur Ward.

Chances are, if you live in the Adirondacks, you have either been hiking or you plan to go hiking. If you do go for a hike, it’s a good idea to know what to prepare for and what to expect when you’re out in the wilderness.

Arthur Ward, a North Country Community College graduate with an associate degree in wilderness recreation, learned how to safely guide people through the wilderness throughout college. He helped people learn to focus on their diet, equipment and navigation to traverse through the woods safely.

Ward, an experienced hiker, has shared many helpful tips for any inexperienced hiker who may be looking to go on their first hike. 

“Number one, do not hike alone,” Ward said.

There are many problems an inexperienced hiker may have in the woods. When you’re alone, you could get hurt and not be able to walk out, or you could get lost and not have any cell service to reach someone for help. Ward said that, while hiking with other people is important, it’s crucial that you’re hiking with the right people.

“If you’re new to hiking, be aware of and make sure you’re with people that are considerate and understanding to your level of stamina. If they don’t give you the proper time to rest, it can be disastrous.”

Ward had an awful hiking experience with a friend who wasn’t being mindful and considerate of his stamina. Ward became physically ill after pushing himself way beyond his limit.

“I tried to keep up with him, pushed myself too hard, and came down with flu-like symptoms that I later believed to be altitude sickness.”

Ward also stresses the importance of being able to read a map. He said that you need to know what to expect about the area you’re about to go into, and be prepared for the weather. Ward said that being prepared includes having the right clothing and supplies.

“Having good shoes and plenty of clothing is essential. You need to be ready in case you have to layer-up or layer-down. And I can’t elaborate enough how important water is—either bring a lot of it or know a way to purify a water source you find while you’re hiking.”

Ward also emphasized the importance of wearing a hat and thick socks on a hike and bringing extra pairs in case you wear through the socks you have on.

“Whether you’re in the summer or the winter, socks are extremely important and valuable. A bad pair of socks can cause enough blisters on your feet that you may have trouble walking or you won’t be able to walk at all.”

Ticks are a common annoyance in the woods, and avoiding them is necessary to make sure you don’t contract Lyme disease. Ward said that wearing light clothing is recommended because you will be able to see the tick better if one is on you. Also, insect repellent is a good way to prevent ticks from jumping on you in the first place. 

The view from the top of Hadley Mountain. Photo via Carly Newton.

Hiking can be a lot of fun if done safely — prepare appropriately, and hiking may become your new favorite hobby.

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