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Biggest mistakes made by beginner hikers

Biggest mistakes made by beginner hikers

When it comes to hiking, it seems simple: you strap on a pair of durable shoes and hit the trails. Well, it’s not that easy. When it comes to hiking many people neglect these things. Ultimately they are only getting half of the experience. Utilize their following tips to make the most of your future hikes.


Take time to adjust to the altitude 

There is such a thing called altitude sickness, also called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). In places like Peru it takes about a day to adjust and locals recommend a tea to help with side effects. Many people think they can “tough out” altitude sickness, which was the case of one of my fellow travelers on my Colorado vacation. She nearly passed out waking up the many steps of Seven Falls, which would have been terrible. 

There are many different symptoms for it: nausea, mild headaches, shortness of breath, rapid pulse, loss of appetite, lack of energy, 

To prevent yourself from getting altitude sickness here are some ideas:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. You’re probably already thirsty from your hike, so make sure you pay special attention to your H2O intake. 
  • Take it slow (VERY SLOW). There’s less oxygen in the air the higher you ascended, so you’re already struggling for breath.  Go slower than you normally would to make up for the lack of breath you have. By exhausting yourself you’ll make yourself dizzier and sicker more quickly. Look at this as an opportunity to admire the scenery a little longer. 
  • Eat often. For me, this is the best advice. This helps me greatly when I’m in the mountains. You don’t have to eat a lot but just munch often. I often times have a bag of trail mix that I’ll bring with me. I’ll grab a handful every so often to prevent nausea and that sluggish feeling.
  • Gum. It also helps with your ears popping and prevents nausea.
  • Descend. But ultimately the best advice, if you can’t shake it, is to go down in elevation. 

Don’t forget the essentials 

-Water, snacks, map, sunscreen, bug spray

I often pack a small backpack to bring with me filled with these things. I refuse to over pack it (I learned my lesson at Walt Disney World).

Enjoy the entire hike

Most people look at hiking at a Point A to Point B journey. The ending point of the trail boasts the best views, but then it’s time to turn back. But actually, the end hike is full of scenery. For instance, last spring in Colorado, we hiked the Angela? Falls trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Little do we know, the waterfall was completely covered in snow. The best part of the hike was getting to hike on the snow for the first time and the vistas along the way. 


Sometimes this means pausing partway through your hike, eating some trail mix and watch the wildlife buzz on by.

Wear proper footwear

I can’t emphasize this enough. SHOES WITH GRIPS! SHOES WITH GRIPS! Regardless if the hike is less than a mile or two or more than 10 miles, you need sturdy footwear. Many people made this mistake on the La Mina Falls hike in El Yunque National Rainforest in Puerto Rico. Though the hike was no more than 1.5 miles roundtrip, due to the slippery conditioning, switchbacks and hilly terrain it took longer to hike down to the falls. Ironically, it seemed like the hike back was shorter.  



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