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There are many things to consider when you are looking to get into the hobby of hiking. This will be a brief overview for people looking to get started and also provide you some external links at the bottom to some sites you should also review before your first trip.
The first to note with gear is many beginning articles will suggest you have good footwear. While it is a good idea to have good footwear, this doesn't necessarily mean that you need to be geared in $500.00 hiking boots. A trusty pair of running shoes should be sufficient for your first outing. Keeping in mind your first hike should not be of extraordinary length and should be kept short, the following list of gear, in no particular order, is likely sufficient:
The above gear is enough if you plan to stick to well defined, simpler trails. Always pack more water and food than you think you need.
Hiking is not an easy activity to do as the length and elevation scales up. There is also a big difference between a hike, a scramble, and mountaineering. Beginners should look for a hike with elevation under 300 meters and distance under 5 km. Scale up from there. There should also be no scrambling component or mountaineering component when you start out. The type of ground you will be walking on will not be the same as walking on paved sidewalk so it will be more difficult. You should also consider when you are beginning your hike. Start your hike with enough time to complete it in daylight.
It is important to check trail conditions before heading out as trails can close for various reasons including damage from flooding, or closures due to bears.
Typically a hike will be completed by using your own two feet only. There may be a time where you use your hands to stabilize footing on difficult terrain, but for the most part you will remain upright.
Scrambling involves using one's feet and one's hands to get through a really steep section or over rough groud. Rocky rough ground can cut your hands and should be attempted once you have proper gloves for more advanced adventures. Many hikes contain scrambling components.
Mountaineering is climbing mountains and carries considerable risk with the activity. It is not considered hiking and will not be discussed on this site.
Always keep your distance from animals! Is is most efficient for me to link to the Government of Alberta's own section on wildlife than try to provide the advise. Please check it here. I will provide one piece of advice and that is to consider the accessibility of your bear spray. If deployment is required, typically you have only six seconds to deploy. Do not leave it in your bag or somewhere else where time is required to get at it. Purchase a holster so the bear spray can be accessable on your belt or backpack strap. Hopefully, you will never need to use it, but it is better to be prepared than not! DO NOT ASSUME BECAUSE A TRAIL IS BUSY YOU DO NOT NEED BEAR SPRAY! Troll Falls is a super busy trail and war under bear warnings multiple times during the summer of 2020.
Check out the reviews section and look at the easy hikes to start with. I encourage you to consider Heart Creek Trail or Troll Falls. They may not have the same excitement as other trails, but is important to understand what going on a hike is like for your body, rather than starting with something you can't complete. They are numerous rescues done in the mountains all the time for people who overextend themselves and cannot make it back to their vehicle. Learn your limits and slowly build your physical abilities over time.
All material provided and created by Dave Boyle unless otherwise noted.
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