This post is dedicated to getting the basics down, what to expect, what to bring, and how I rate each activity. Its a little longer than I hoped but at least all the ground is covered!
Now every hike is different, every activity is different. But in all cases, water is necessary. Just depends how long and difficult the activity is. I will be inserting a rating scale at the end of this post as a general idea of what I mean by easy, moderate, difficult etc.
My best recommendation is a backpack. Go to your local outdoor store, and grab a comfortable backpack that can hold a decent amount, around 20L, is usually good. If you go with a super small one, your limiting yourself right off the hop! An empty larger bag weighs only a little more than a little day bag. While your there, get a travel size first-aid bag, a couple bandaids, some scissors, tensor bandage etc. It’s basic, but will come in handy if anyone takes a little tumble!
Next thing, a good pair of shoes. I have hiked in runners, good old Nike free’s! And I have fallen, and fallen annnnnnd fallen! So if your planning on doing any elevation I would definitely recommended getting a pair of hiking shoes. If your just doing one nature walk, running shoes are fine. Don’t feel like you can’t go without spending $100 on shoes but if your doing a moderate-hard hike, they will really make a difference. And the plan is to get you out doing more anyways! So they should get good use!
Camel back/hydration pack life savvvvvver!!!!! I hadn’t used one up until this year, so again, not a requirement. But its soooo nice and easy to just have a straw sitting right over your shoulder- you can walk and drink at the same time! Theres nothing worse than being with a group of friends and everyone having to stop at different times to take off there packs, get the water out, and than put it all away all at different times. Its just easier. And you don’t need a big fancy one, 2 or 3L, not insulated is perfectly fine. Cold water hurts the teeth anyways!
Another investment you may consider are hiking poles even though there not always needed, on the way down it can get a little hard to find your footing. They provide a secure grip for any loose scree, and for the incline makes you use your whole body and takes a little weight off your legs. If you do want to purchase them, most companies that have rental equipment will also rent polls! I believe Valhalla Pure rents them for $5-8!
Basically from there its just FOOD always pack food. Have a nice lunch, enjoy your view, you worked hard for it! Have a snack. Have a few snacks! I always do. Makes the trip more relaxing and enjoyable, no need for anyone to get all hangry on the side of a cliff! EAT BREAKFAST!! To all you non breakfast eaters. Don’t even think about it. Eat a well balanced carb’d up breaky!
Sunscreen/bugspray the higher up you are, the closer to the sun you are! Watch that nose and those shoulders. Bug stray, usually not a problem for the hiking, but for kayaking/nature walks… nothing ruins the fun more than coming back looking like you have the chickenpox….
Last but not least, especially in Alberta. Bring a raincoat or a sweater. Summits can get pretty chilly. You will enjoy it more if your not freezing your hiney off! And on a serious note, the weather can drastically change in the mountains, the winds will pick up, the rain will start pouring down. Its better to be prepared.
I promise, this is the longest post you’ll have to read! I just want to set the tone for most the adventures, so I don’t have to repeat and annoy in every post!
Generating a new rating scale. When companies or websites rate different activities, its based upon a huge scale to a wide variety of people who can be extremely skilled. Which is great!! But sometimes intimidating or misleading. Im rating based on every day people, who are active (aka the gym a few times a week, able to walk a fair distance without elevation, any even people like me who hike often but battle asthma and a 2 hour drive never mind the time required to complete the activity).
Nature Walks – No elevation, flip flops will do, listening to birds, taking scenic photos
Easy – Some elevation usually under 300m, runners usually fine, good for the kids and dogs. Still bring some water, but no need to over pack! Generally 1-2 hours
Moderate – Hiking shoes recommended, poles if you have them, generally 3-6 hours, so everything I listed above is a good idea! Most summits will be at least moderate. Its a great place to start hiking!
Hard – Straight up, fast elevation or long hikes that can take 6-10 hours to complete. But are not technically challenging, no more skills required than a moderate hike. But relentless effort is required. (Don’t be discouraged! Just don’t expect a nice easy walk up!)
Difficult – For those who already have their mountain legs, have done a few hikes and are ready to push there limits a little more. Ropes and helmets are recommended, and people who know what there doing! Lots of hikes are rated moderate or hard until the last section to the summit, still a nice view to that stop. But without the proper equipment the summit is not reachable. Doesn’t mean you can’t go to the second last platform though!
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