As an amateur hiker, your quest to go pro in the hiking scene probably began with a little fomo over a picture of a beautiful viewpoint on a hiking trail that you found on the Internet. There's something about admiring blue skies, bodies of water, and green foliage from high elevations that just gets people going.
It's no wonder that first viewpoint picture you saw on someone's Instagram or Facebook made you want to go on your first hike! Hiking literally allows you to look at and think about the world you live in from different perspectives. For the few hours that you spend on the trail, whether you're alone or sharing the adventure with friends, you go into this little bubble that allows you to get away from everyday life for a little bit.
Hiking helps you to appreciate the natural beauty of the world that we live in, and the little things that we are surrounded by and may take for granted every day. It's just like Ferris Bueller says: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Along with nature, world, and life appreciation, another great perk of hiking is the workout. For any amateurs who are addicted to fitness, hiking is an awesome workout. Whether you are climbing up piles of rocks on a steep incline, walking steadily downhill so you don't fall on your face, or traversing on all fours to get to the top of a big boulder, you will be feeling those quads and glutes the next morning. There is nothing more rewarding than hiking up to the end of a trail, surrounded by trees and leaves above and below you, then walking down through the foliage and out of the mountain after hours of moving and grooving.
Different hiking trails have a variety of skill and difficulty levels that you can try to test your strength or use to work your way up to the most challenging of hikes. (For the amateurs who are not super fit, don't jump into any trail that says "high difficulty," even if it has the most insane views. Once you start that hike, you can't go back, and it will feel like you're stuck in a squat the entire time until you get back to your car and sit in pain the whole ride home.)
Hiking is also a great activity for its prime photo ops. The sights you'll see on a hike will not be things you'll see on the regular. Have fun with it, get artsy, and take some cool Snapchats if you have reception up at those viewpoints. In today's day and age, it's illegal to miss a good photo op. And you'll definitely get past that 100 likes mark on an Instagram picture of your adventure (just remember not to get to caught up looking at the awesome views from your camera, and take time to take in all the trippy scenery around you from your own lens).
The basics of hiking probably aren't that difficult to figure out, even for amateurs. But what is most important to know as an amateur for happy hiking are the details. First off, make sure you use good timing. Some trails will take you two hours to complete, others will take you six hours. Get up with the early birds to give yourself plenty of time to hike (getting up early also helps you beat afternoon heat in the summer time).
When you get up bright and early, make sure that you have a backpack with everything you'll need inside. Bring lots of water, but not too much to the point where you feel like the weight of your backpack is going to pull you down the mountains instead of letting you hike up them. Bring bug spray, and bring as much of it as you can. If there is one thing that can easily ruin your hike, it will be all the little buggers that decide to be a pest and chew you up the whole way up and down the trail. Spray it everywhere before you go on the trail so you can't be phased by them.
Bring a few different shirts or an extra light jacket so you're prepared if you start breaking a major sweat or get hit with a downpour when you're in the midst of the outdoors. Wear a cool fitness outfit. As an amateur, you have to start your hiking journey fresh AF. Get hyped up to go on your first hikes with an awesome fitness outfit that will motivate you to look and play the part of an expert hiker and mask your inner amateur.
And last, but not least, remember to bring a nice stash of snacks. If you have been waiting for the right time to try those crazy looking, organic bags of trail mix or granola that you could easily be convinced is dirt from Whole Foods, now is the time. Hiking requires more of your body’s energy than you might think. You’ll definitely be in need of an energy boost by the time you reach the half-way peak of the hike, if not a little bit here and there along the whole trail. From starting your day off earlier than usual to the dreaded uphill climbs you’ll be pushing through on and off until you reach your final viewpoint of the trail, you want to make sure you have the right foods with you to keep replenishing your energy during the hike, and make you feel great at the end of it. Get fancy with gourmet trail mixes, or keep it simple with some fruit and Clif Bars. You can’t go wrong either way.
As a used-to-be amateur hiker and now a professional hiking specialist, I know that if you use all these tips to help you through your first few hikes, you'll be a master hiker before you know it, and you'll have a great time! Hiking is an underrated and awesome activity to take on. You'll fall in love with the adventure as you fall in love with the perspectives that allow you to view the world at along the way. Hike on, amateurs!