WHAT TO BRING—AND WHAT TO SKIP—ON A DAY HIKE
Be prepared without getting overloaded.
From cooler temps to colorful foliage, fall is arguably the best time of year to take a hike. And if you feel the urge, you’re not alone. In 2020, nearly 161 million Americans aged 6 and older participated in at least one outdoor activity, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. That's a jump of about 7 million participants from 2019.
I’m one of them—and I have been for a while. I don't go backpacking on multi-day camping-plus-hiking trips, but I've been day hiking since childhood when I became a Boy Scout and my family spent summers in New York's Catskill Mountains. I'm always mindful of recreational safety practices and preparation, thanks to the Scouts and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, for which I volunteer now. I've also taken some hiking courses and became certified in NOLS Wilderness First Aid.
Hitting the trails—whether they're in that urban park near your home or in the wilderness of a national park—can be so fulfilling and rewarding. But it can be daunting and dangerous, too. If you’re just getting started, I encourage you to start small and local: Find a trail near you, pack smartly, take a buddy or three, and plan to be out for only a few hours at a stretch. Here's what else you should abide.
May 7, 2022
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Depending on where you travel, you may want to pack bug spray, too. In places like Florida and North Carolina, summers get buggy, and you’ll be happy to have packed a spray on nights when you want to sit on the porch or dine outdoors.
As a veteran of the Iraq War, I found myself struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder from which greatly impacted my mental health. In 2016, I came across the film “Wild,” an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about healing by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
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