How To Go Hiking

How Do I Go Hiking?

Here at Bricolage Life we talk a lot about going hiking. I started thinking about this and realized that, maybe, not everybody goes hiking. Maybe not everyone has been exposed to this type of activity. You might read our stories. You may think they’re good stories, but they don’t mean anything to you. You might be asking yourself, what is this hiking thing all about? How do I go hiking? How do I get started? Where can I go hiking? Why would I bother going hiking?

Hiking is simply this: going for a walk. Merriam-Webster says Hike means, a usually long walk especially for pleasure or exercise. That’s it. Nothing more to it than that. When most hikers are talking about the activity, however, they usually mean the act of getting out and walking in nature. Hiking is, to them, a way to get outside of themselves. It’s a way to get some exercise while enjoying the natural beauty surrounding them. Let’s take a few minutes here to answer some of those questions. Then get ready to head out and do some hiking!

What is Hiking?

As the definition above says, hiking is just going for a walk. Usually done in a natural setting. The woods, a trail, the desert, the mountains, are all excellent options. Hiking can be done almost anywhere! If a natural setting isn’t immediately available to you, don’t be discouraged. Part of one of my favorite hiking trails is the Superior Hiking Trail. At one point, the trail goes right through the middle of the city of Duluth, Minnesota. Hiking can truly be whatever you want it to be. 

SHT trail marker from How To Go Hiking
A portion of the Superior Hiking Trail goes right through Duluth, MN

That said, there are some terms associated with hiking that you may hear on occasion regarding the different types involved…

What Types of hiking Are There?

Short hike 

  • This is just what it sounds like. A short distance walk. Everyone gets to determine their own definition of, “short.” For some it may mean 5 or 10 miles, for others it may mean a walk around the block. A short hike is usually something you can do with only minor preparation and a limited amount of equipment. One of my personal favorites is a 1.5 mile walk around a lake that is near our neighborhood. It lasts about 30 minutes, including travel time to get there and back.

Day hike

  •  Again, this is pretty self-explanatory. This is a hike that lasts for the better part of an entire day. The distance is completely dependent on your speed and comfort level. For some, a 10 mile journey is long enough, others can go 30 or more miles in a day. A bit of preparation is required. Bringing along, or having access to, enough liquids to drink is essential. Planning your route is a strong recommendation. Having a map is quite helpful if you are unfamiliar with the area that you are hiking.

Backpacking 

  • Backpacking while hiking is a bit more involved. This is typically a multi-day-long trip in which hiking is the primary means of travel. Bringing along food, water, and a means of sleeping comfortably are usually necessary. Planning ahead is essential for this type of travel. Having a map is necessary if you are not familiar with the territory, and very strongly recommended even if you know the area well.

Trek or Trekking 

  • Trekking is the granddaddy of hiking adventures. This type of hiking is about multi-day trips, to multi-week trips, and even multi-month excursions. Extensive planning is required for trekking. You will need to bring everything with you that you need to be fully self-sufficient. Often, a trek will include a supply restocking plan along the way. 

All of these types of hikes have different requirements for what you will need to take along with you. There are many schools of thought about what is considered essential. Essential items for some might seem frivolous to others. Again, hiking, in any form, is what you decide hiking is for you. We’ll look more at what gear should be considered later in this article.

Why Would I Go Hiking?

I could give you the reasons that I love hiking, but that’s not why you’re reading this. This article, called, Five Ways Hiking Is Good for You, written by Jill Suttie for Greater Good Magazine is the best explanation that I’ve found yet to answer the question of, “why.” 

In her article she lists five items that are the reasons why so many people enjoy this thing called hiking. I’ve listed them here, but I recommend checking out her article for deeper insights. She seems quite a bit smarter than I am.

  1. Hiking keeps your mind sharper than many other forms of exercise
  2. Hiking helps to keep you calm and happy
  3. Hiking helps your relationships
  4. Hiking can increase our creativity
  5. Hiking helps cement a positive relationship with the natural world

I’m not sure that I knew all of that before I started hiking. I just enjoyed going outside.The point is that simply getting outdoors and seeing the world around you, is just a good way to make you feel good.

SHT trail from How To Go Hiking post
Snow on the Trail

Is Hiking Expensive?

Nope. Well, it can be. Once again, hiking is whatever you make it. This is Bricolage Life. Our motto is, grab whatcha got and let’s GO! If you have a pair of flip-flops, a little time, and somewhere to walk – you have all you need to go hiking at a basic level!

There are places all over the world where hiking can be done for no cost at all. Hiking can also set you back several to many thousands of dollars. Luckily, the majority of what is known as hiking, lies somewhere in between those extremes. Let’s talk briefly about that…

What things do I need to go hiking?

There are tons of variables to consider, when deciding what to bring with you on any given hiking experience. There are simply way too many to write about in this text. Following is a list of what I consider essentials that I bring with me on different kinds of hikes. It is not an exhaustive list. Nor is it a minimalist list. This is a list of what I tend to bring along with me. Every person, on every hike, is different, and will have different ideas of what is essential and what is frivolous. Essential items also vary dramatically depending on season, terrain, weather, etc. This is only intended to give you an idea…

Short Hike essentials:

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Proper clothing for current weather conditions
  • A bottle of water or other beverage
  • An idea of where you are going

Day Hike essentials:

  • Comfortable shoes or a decent pair of hiking boots/shoes
  • Proper clothing for the expected weather that day
  • A refillable container of water or other beverage
  • A sandwich for lunch
  • Small backpack containing:
  1. Extra water if needed
  2. Extra clothing if needed for weather conditions
  3. Small first aid kit for minor scrapes and bruises
  • A map of the route or the area, or a very strong knowledge of where you are going.
  • A cell phone for emergency use
  • A pair of hiking poles depending on the terrain (optional for me)

Backpacking essentials:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Large backpack
  • Tent appropriate for the season
  • Sleeping bag appropriate for the season
  • Several containers for water depending on expected length of the trip
  • Food and snacks
  • Backpacking stove, fuel, and a lighter (usually two lighters, for redundancy)
  • Cooking pan and a utensil or two
  • Water micro-filter pump or comparable device
  • Waterproof storage bags
  • Map, or maps, of the area and the route (or a guide book)
  • Navigation equipment as necessary for the trip
  • A plan of daily activities and distance goals
  • A waterproof time keeping device for staying on pace (a wristwatch)
  • Cell phone with extra charging device
  • A light source (flashlight, headlamp, or battery operated lantern)
  • Substantial first aid kit
  • A complete change of clothes or two
  • Basic hygiene supplies (toothbrush, soap, washcloth)
  • Pair of hiking poles 
  • A means of packing out waste (human waste and trash)

Trekking essentials:

  • Pretty much everything listed in all the above lists, only more of it!
  • Self-rescue gear if traveling in a remote location
  • Plenty of vacation time from work
  • A lot of determination

Once again, those are just some of the things that I take with me. You will develop your own lists as you experiment in different seasons and weather conditions, and gain experience.

How Do I Get Started Hiking?

Although hiking is arguably the most accessible outdoors activity available, there are some things to think about before you begin. A basic rule of thumb is to start with small hikes and work your way up to more advanced hiking if desired. This link is an amusing story of how Lisa and I started.

Be certain to check off this list:

  • Know where you’re going
  • Check the weather 
  • Have a partner or let someone know what you are doing and when you plan to return
  • Have a plan of what you intend to do
  • Bring appropriate gear for the hike

REI Co-Op at REI.com are excellent outfitters for hiking, among other things. Their website offers this article that goes into much greater depth on the subject of getting started hiking. 

Also, be certain to check with your local outdoors retailer. They usually have the best information on local hikes and can help you find just about whatever you need to get started.

Where Can I Go Hiking?

Hiking can be done almost anywhere that is not private property that you don’t have permission to be on. Some good places to start thinking about are:

  • Local parks
  • Local designated hiking trails
  • State Parks 
  • State Forests
  • Wildlife reserves (if open to the public)
  • National Parks

A simple internet search of, “where can I go hiking?” will give you almost endless ideas of both local places to go and distant hiking destinations.

Again, be certain to check with your local outdoors retailer. They usually have the best information on local hikes and can help you determine an appropriate starting point.

Be creative. Once again, hiking is whatever you choose it to be.

Happy hiking!

Ready to Go Hiking?

I hope this has answered some of your questions regarding this wonderful pastime.If you’re not convinced yet, or for more in-depth reading, check out this article from WebMD called How Hiking Is Good for Body and Mind, written by Kara Mayer Robinson.

Happy hiking!

Now… Grab whatcha got and let’s GO!

Snow on the Trail

A Photo Journey…

Lisa and I headed up to the Superior Hiking Trail again recently. Strangely enough, not a lot of weird things happened this time. It was such a wonderful day! There was a lot of snow on the trail and it was beautiful! Take a photo journey with us…..

Cool Bridge over the frozen Sucker River

Sucker River Trailhead

This was our starting point. Located about 5 miles inland from Highway 61 at mile marker 14.9.

Lots of snow!

Snow on the Trail

We had decided that the trail was packed down enough that we wouldn’t need snowshoes.

Campsite along the way
Always good to see the Superior Hiking Trail signs!
Just plain cool. The cycle of life.

Oops

Leaving the snowshoes behind ended up being a poor decision for some of the trail.

Somewhere in the middle of our journey the trail became less packed down and difficult to negotiate.
not sure which way to go with so much snow on the trail
Almost no trail at all here.
Or here.
These are cool!
We thought these wispy things were cool! Anyone know? Please leave us a comment below…. we are curious.
We had just noticed that the sun started to come out and play.

Sunshine!

We couldn’t believe how deeply blue the sky was when the clouds broke open and the sun shined!

Beautiful blue sky!

Evidence of life

We found some abandoned bird housing. We always find interesting things to see on the Trail.

Snow on the Trail and filling this abandoned bird nest
We felt sad until we realized that the former occupants were probably well south of here in much warmer weather!
They left behind a cool home though.

Almost done with this adventure

We wrapped up at the western end trailhead at Fox Farm Road

The trail had become much easier at this point
Snow on the Trail and piled on top of this stump
We just thought this was a little silly.
We don’t know who or what built this. Anyone know? Leave a comment below….

Thank you for coming along on our little journey! It was such a wonderful day. Other than gas in the car, it didn’t cost much of anything. We hope you are finding joy in whatever it is that you are doing!

Please comment below and let us know some of your tricks for having fun on a budget. Or, share your stories on our Your Voices page by clicking here.

Video

See the whole story here.

Another SHT Story

As a rule, not every single experience can be the best experience ever. This was one of those times.

As you’ve probably read in our earlier posts… Lisa and I have been trying to spend some time once a month or so, on the Superior Hiking Trail. This is another SHT story….

This month was no exception. We had a little more learning to do, however.

We had checked the SHT website for trail conditions. https://superiorhiking.org/trail-conditions/ It was going to be snowy and cold, as we should learn to expect, really. We certainly weren’t disappointed with how snowy and cold it was!

This is a very short post, but I needed to share it with you. Lisa and I are all about the bricolage experience, which basically means, to us, taking what we already have and making it work. When we were preparing for this outing, I dug a couple pairs of very old snowshoes out of the garage. One pair was completely unusable due to the deterioration that comes with 20 years of improper storage. The other pair we could make work. We ended up having to buy a pair to make the trip (insert sad face). Along with the snowshoes, we brought along a couple of pair of ski poles that have been in the basement for just as long.

shadows
Mission Creek

When we got to the trail, we realized that we were in for quite a day. The snow was about a foot deep with a 2-inch wind-blown crust on top. Just enough to make foot travel difficult. We punched through the crust and caught the edges of the snowshoes with nearly every step! Seven miles would prove to take all day!

Although the scenery is always beautiful on the SHT, we were getting somewhat frustrated after the first 4 hours when we weren’t even half-way to our finish line. Another 4 hours later, we were exhausted and, quite honestly, a bit crabby. I had parked the car in a location that made me worry all day about finding it towed away when we got back, the loud crunch of the crusty snow underfoot made conversation almost impossible, and the difficult terrain was wearing on our middle-aged legs! It was a departure from the usual singing and joking that we usually engage in.  

So, we took with us some old gear, some old experience from my mountain climbing days, and some old legs to get the job done. It was a very difficult day. But, we did it together. We saw some cool wildlife and took some cool photos. We also learned that, with perseverance (for an entire day!), we could do this and still walk away with a smile on our faces!

Cool trees
Woodpecker condo

As a rule, not every single experience can be the best experience ever. This was one of those times. But there are many more to come. What we learned on the trail that day, we will continue to use to make the most out of every adventure.

Oh!… And the car didn’t get towed. I was worried for nothing. (-:

We were, appropriately, not impressed

Thanks for reading my little tale…. Remember to subscribe for more silliness to come…. And, as always, we’d love to hear from you!  Grab whatcha got and let’s go!