Mother Nature is amazing! You just might be surprised at what you can find by looking under the canopy of a tree, or with a quick peek under a bush. When you get outside, that’s your chance to reconnect with the truly important things in life, the fresh air, blue sky, and deep rich earth underfoot.
Make no mistake though: a walk in the park is not a hike in the woods. The former is little more than a leisurely stroll through green grass in a government-sanctioned plot probably not far from your home. The latter, on the other hand, is all about throwing caution to the wind.
Park the car, find the trails and get a little bit lost – in a good way, of course – in the process. This is the approach that I’ve found offers the most reward when it comes to having a fulfilling nature hike. However, it isn’t one to try to tackle without proper planning and tools at the ready.
For those familiar with vast tracts of land, as we are here in Texas, it’s easy to impress upon readers the need for navigational tools. For those who think they can find their way home on instinct alone, think again. The American Hiking Society says that a compass is the “most important piece of gear to help you find your way.” I would agree.
When combined with a map and adjusted for “true” and “magnetic” north, even the farthest hikes from camp can be accomplished with little concern about heading. It’s for this reason that having a hiking stick with a compass built into the handle or using a hand-held version can add confidence to any hiker with reservations about getting home before sundown.
The whole reason for investing in walking sticks, trekking poles and even canes is because they enhance mobility. Hiking takes place on uneven ground and nobody knows what awaits over the next crest. That’s part of the fun, but having another form of support on hand can mean the difference between turning back and pushing on.
Again from the hiking society: “Poles also allow hikers to brace themselves on their poles to remain steady and upright, instead of falling after a stumble.” A twisted ankle or wrist sprain can spell disaster mid-hike. With poles in each hand, or a walking stick in one, your stability is increased and the likelihood of slipping on the gravel along an incline is decreased.
All the hiking accessories in the world won’t amount to much without a place to test them out. Fortunately for enthusiasts, tech-savvy hikers have established websites and contributed information to these databases. AllTrails.com, for example, points me toward a half-dozen options immediately near McLennan Community College along the Brazos River near Waco, Texas. These trails are titled, rated by users, ranked by difficulty and include photos from the sites.
If you’re hesitant about trying new trails out for the first time all alone, then it’s time to track down a hiking partner. Everyone brings different skills to the table so the aforementioned navigational abilities could come in handy in a pinch. Hiking-For-Her.com, for example, allows members to fill out a form that lists their preferences when it comes to age of fellow hikers, where they would like to explore and the type of hiking experience they are looking for.
Ready for Anything
Will you be ready when a morning mist turns into afternoon deluge? If you took the time to prepare a hiking kit that contains emergency items such as a first aid kit or poncho, then the unexpected becomes mundane.
Hiking-specific lightweight backpacks from well-known brands are designed with the avid hiker in mind so treks of any length are accounted for. This means hip pockets and water-resistant qualities in case of the aforementioned rain. On a lighter note, it’s also possible to turn chance happenings into an opportunity.
For example, having a walking stick with a camera mount in the handle can turn any bird-spotting outing into a photo shoot that leads to better-composed pictures as a result. Having heard from countless hikers over the decades, the importance of picking up on little things like these quickly became apparent; being ready for just about anything along the way was the eventual payoff.
The initial investment hurdle for hiking is arguably low compared to some other sports and physical activities. Much of what’s mentioned above would be considered “essentials” by avid hikers who’ve learned a thing or two about preparedness. While the contents of your hiking bag will vary depending on season, climate and duration of the hike, there’s no excuse to leave home entirely unprepared.
Author Bio: Warren Owen is the founder of Brazos Walking Sticks. With a background in woodworking, Owen has worked tirelessly to build a brand that’s known for the durability and design of its made-in-the-U.S. products.
The company has been in business for more than 20 years and Owen, immediately family and his workers have had many meaningful interactions with avid hikers along the way. Through these conversations, the offerings from Brazos have been continuously updated to meet those needs. Find him on Facebook and Twitter. Follow him on Instagram and check out his blog too!
Ready To Get Out There?
Grab some trekking poles or a hiking stick and take advantage of everything Mother Nature has to offer. Fresh air and nature are yours with just a little bit of planning and are free to enjoy!
For me, trekking poles are a must have part of my hiking kit. Let me know in the comments below if you hike with trekking poles or a hiking stick and share one of your favorite adventures. Happy trails!
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