Hiking Basics

Things you need to know about hiking...

·        A good pair of hiking boots is a must. They should be comfortable. Good ankle support is important when hiking on the trails.

·         Good hiking socks (not cotton) are also important. Sock liners (a thin pair of socks) will wick sweat away from your feet. Sock liners worn with a thick pair of hiking socks will go a long way in ensuring that your feet will be comfortable and blister free.

·         Wear comfortable clothing in layers doing cooler weather. Synthetic clothing next to your skin will wick sweat away and keep you warm. Fleece and wool are good for layering during colder weather. As you are hiking, you will find yourself removing layers—this helps you to manage your body temperature.

·         Always bring water, spring summer, fall & winter. Bring at least 1 liter and more on a hot day. You may want to bring a snack also.

·         Summer hiking clothing may include sunglasses, hat/visor, bandanna.  Winter hiking may include Stabilicers or Yak Trax for the ice.  

 ·         Bring or use insect repellant and sunscreen as needed.

·         You may want to bring one or two trekking poles, depending on the terrain.

·         Stretching prior to a hike is always a good idea.

Hiking Terms

  • Altitude sickness - also know as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to low air pressure. It commonly occurs above 8,000 feet.

  • Blaze - a blaze can be a painted symbol on a tree, a sign or a cairn (a pile of rocks placed for a purpose of guiding). The Appalachian Trail is 2’ x 6” white, the Buckeye Trail is 2” x 6” blue blaze. Blazes are painted at eye level both directions.

  • Break-in - a period of time your body and mind or a piece of equipment takes to adjust to the physical and mental strains of backpacking.

  • Cranking - hiking at a fast pace.

  • Cross-country - hiking across open country instead of on a trail (a slang term is bushwhacking).

  • Double blaze - two painted blazes on a tree that denote a change in direction or a junction in the trail.

  • Hydration bladder - a pliable container that has a tube and valve attached. Tube allows you to drink as you walk by sucking on the valve. Two well-known brands are CamelBak and Platypus.

  • Side trail - usually a dead-end path off a main trail. Side trails often lead to an interesting feature, such as a waterfall or wildflower-choked meadow that the main trail misses.

  • Switchback - a zigzagging trail up the side of a steep hill or mountain.

  • Trail corridor - all the lands that make up the trail environment as seen by the hiker.

  • Trailhead - the start of a trail, usually at a road. (also included space enough for parking cars and sign designating where the trail starts).

  • Leader - the person that determines the route and distance of the hike. Has sign-in sheet and forwards to statistician after hike.

  • Rear guard - the last person in the hike group that oversees the group so no one is left behind. Notifies the leader when the hikers are getting too far apart.

  • Pathfinder - the person/persons who plans the hike.