Long distance hiking is an increasingly popular activity for those looking to take in the beautiful outdoors for an extended period of time. Whether you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure or just a weekend escape, there is something special about walking for days on end through unfamiliar terrain. Long distance hiking comes with its own unique set of challenges, but with the right preparation, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. In this guide, we will cover the basics of long distance hiking and provide you with the tips and tricks you need to get out on the trail for your first extended journey.
First and foremost, it is important to understand the different types of long-distance hiking. These include thru-hiking, section hiking, and base camping. Thru-hiking is the most popular option and it involves hiking the entire length of a designated trail in one continuous journey. Popular thru-hikes include the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail. Section hiking is when you break up a long-distance trail into smaller sections, or “sections”, allowing you to complete the trail over the course of multiple trips. Base camping involves camping in one spot for an extended period of time and exploring the nearby area during short day hikes.
Before you plan your long distance hike, it is important to do your research and determine the type of hike that is best for you. Consider factors such as the total distance, terrain, weather, and duration. A thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, for example, will require more extensive planning and preparation than a weekend section hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Once you have chosen a trail, the next step is to plan your route. Start by obtaining a map of the area and familiarizing yourself with the different landmarks and points of interest. Decide on a plan for where you will camp each night, taking into account the availability of water sources, campsites, and other services. Consider the terrain and elevation, and plan your route accordingly.
Once you have your route planned, it is time to start preparing. An important part of this process is to create a checklist. Make sure to include items such as a tent, sleeping bag, food, water, navigation tools, first-aid supplies, and clothing. It is also important to consider the weight of the items you are taking, as you will be carrying them all with you throughout the hike. Consider investing in lightweight and high quality gear that is designed for long distance hiking.
Finally, it is important to stay safe on your hike. Make sure to check the local weather conditions and be aware of any potential hazards. Tell someone where you will be and when you plan to return. Additionally, be aware of the local wildlife and take precautions when necessary.
These are just a few of the basics for long distance hiking. With the proper planning and preparation, you will be ready to hit the trail and experience the beauty of the wilderness for an extended period of time. Happy trails!