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The challenge of the new hiker

Hiking yesterday with Hiking Michigan, we were talking about many thing, including the challenges of new hikers (or even hikers new to the area), and the challenges of hiking as a woman, especially solo.  I’ve never been a woman hiking alone, so I can’t give speak from personal experience there (Hiking Michigan is spearheading an effort to identify those issues and possible solutions.  Whether you’re a man or woman, go to their hike in two weeks at Holly State Recreation Area and take part in a post-hike campfire discussion.)  I can speak to the issue of being a new hiker, however.

Look at any serious hiker and here’s what you’ll find.  $200 hiking boots, $300 GPS, $100 pack, $100 water filter… lots and lots of weird, expensive specialty gear.  Hikers, including myself, love the stuff.  We all love it, but we all know you don’t need any of it to get started, and all of us hiked without it for years.

When I started hiking, I hiked in the same running shoes I wore ever day.  My pack doubled as a book bag during the week.  My water bottle started life as a disposable pop bottle.  No special clothes, gear, nothing.  I hiked for years using whatever I had at home, and you can too, and you can go pretty far with that.

If you’re new to hiking, don’t be afraid to go out in the woods.  Rule #1, carry more water than you think you’ll want.  Beyond that, for shorter hikes, there’s not much.  A cell phone is a great emergency tool, one I didn’t have when I started hiking.  Visit your local park website, download and print a trail map, grab a friend, a bottle or two of water, and go explore!

June 26, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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