1) SUNSCREEN is a MUST no matter what! Even if it’s overcast- put it on! Hiking with a sunburn…not fun!
2) WATER: I have a hydration pack which carries 2 liters of water. I have run out of water on very HOT days and I dehydrate easily because of my Gastric Bypass Surgery so when I hike with someone else, I have them bring 1 or 2 small bottles to put in THEIR pack. IMPORTANT: If 1/2 your water is gone, turn around and head back. Also- keep extra water in your car (you’ll thank me for this later, trust me) just in case you run completely out.
I can’t stress enough about bringing plenty of water…It’s torture when you run out AND your body will start shutting down if you get too over heated.
3) A Hiking Backpack: My hydration pack doubles as a backpack and I keep all the basics in it- First Aid Kit, Sunscreen, Bug Spray, Matches, Phone w/GPS and a Map of the area if I have one…I also bring a Snack with Carbs (even though I’m not supposed to eat a lot of carbs) because I have made the mistake of not eating before I went up the mountain and by the time I got down, I was a complete mess (low blood sugar, tired and VERY cranky)!
4) SHOES: Buy GOOD hiking boots or hiking “sneakers.” You can hike in very sturdy tennis shoes BUT you feet really need the extra support- especially if you find that you have to “boulder climb” at some point on your journey. I have found that I need flexible, low to the ankle hiking shoes and have tried boots before but found them too restricting. Get what works for you and make sure they are STURDY 1st and THEN comfortable…
5) If you’re not feeling up to hiking- DON’T GO. Trust me, no one wants to cart your tired, injured ass off of a mountain!
6) IPODS (my opinion): A lot of people hike with Ipods. I personally don’t think it’s a great idea because if something is looking for a meal and spots YOU, you’ll never hear it coming!
SPEAKING OF ANIMALS….
7) ANIMALS: There are animals with BIG, NASTY TEETH running around the woods and mountains of Southern California. Though generally more afraid of you (blah, blah,blah), it is not unusual to hear about attacks on hikers and mountain bikers…Here’s a few tips for you:
a) If confronted, don’t run- make yourself as BIG as possible
b) If you are with someone else, get close to them and together make noise and get as big as possible
c) When the animal retreats, leave the area s-l-o-w-l-y
You can find more tips online…these are just MY basics. Google- “Hiking Tips”- “Hiking Gear”- “Beginning Hiking” etc.
I recommend the book: 100 Classic Hikes in Southern California by Allen Riedel (we’ve been checking off every hike we do out of this book and have made it a goal to try to do ALL of them.)
Also the website: http://www.localhikes.com gives a realistic account of what to expect on a particular hiking experience and the reviews of the hike are made by REAL people, not “Trekking Gods”!
TIP: If there’s a hike you want to find more information about, Google it , read EVERYTHING about it…and then decide! You sure don’t want to plan and execute an outing and then waste a beautiful day on a sucky hike!