Have you been thinking about going hiking with the family?
As the weather warms up, many people start planning outdoor activities. What better way to enjoy the outdoors and get exercise at the same time than to go hiking? Whether you hike for an hour or a day, here are a few tips to get you started on the right foot!
For a short hike, you can probably get away with wearing comfortable shoes and clothes and taking a bottle of water and a small snack. For longer hikes (over an hour) or hikes in inclement weather (including high heat and/or humidity), though, you'll probably want to invest in some hiking gear. Look for clothes made from technical fabrics intended to dry quickly and wick moisture away from your skin, and boots made specifically for hiking. Hiking boots provide grip and support that tennis shoes do not have. You'll also want to be certain to have enough water and snacks ? many hikers prefer to wear a backpack water bladder with a flexible straw. Last, pack some common-sense gear such as a map, compass, small first aid kit, and signal whistle or mirror.
Hiking trails are everywhere! Even most metro areas have a few trails snaking through them. To find a good hiking trail, check with your city, county, or state conservation department or with your local hiking club. Some states and metro areas even have whole books published describing the many trails in the area, so don't overlook your local bookstore as a source of information.
Different hikers have different preferences in trail surfaces. Some hikers prefer paved surfaces ? if this is you, you may choose to hike along paved bike trails. Be sure to check first to make sure that the trail is open to hikers, and be on the alert for approaching bikers. If you prefer dirt or grassy trails, you may need to look a little harder, but try to resist the urge to strike your own path.
Hiking is just walking without a sidewalk. Keep your stride natural. Find a comfortable pace. Look at where you're going, not at your feet. Be sure to drink plenty of water and keep a close eye on the time so you don't find yourself miles from your car as the sun is setting.
Leave No Trace
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics encourages all users of the outdoors to practice their seven Leave No Trace principles. (for more, please see www.lnt.org) These principles include:
- Travel on Durable Surfaces. Use existing trails and walk in the middle of the trail, even when muddy. Walking around muddy puddles results in a widening of the trail at that point, which is often an unnecessary encroachment on the natural areas surrounding a trail.
- Dispose of Waste Properly. Pack out your garbage. If you need to make a "pit stop" while hiking, walk a short distance away from the trail, dig a hole, and cover the hole back up when you are finished. Pack out your toilet paper.
- Leave What You Find. Don't pick flowers, remove historical artifacts, or damage trees or other growth.
- Respect Wildlife. Don't follow or feed wild animals, and keep your pets restrained.
If you're looking for the next great read, here are a few tips to help you find one that you'll enjoy.
Browsing the local library or a popular bookstore, you come across several interesting titles that might be worth a second look. Picking up the closest one, you scan it quickly, trying to decide if it's worth getting. How do you know if your time will be well spent or if you'll give up halfway through? That's the dilemma faced by avid readers who value the quality of time spent poring over a book.
Book lovers inquire into a number of areas to find a tome they might enjoy. Here are some tips that can point you to some exciting possibilities too: 1. Surf the Web. Subscribe to publishers' newsletters or on-line book lists. Many ezines offer paid or unpaid subscriptions and publish the latest titles or book deals for their readership. Some arrive five days a week while others post monthly. You also can do a Web search to find sites where new or old book titles are posted and reviewed. Evaluators' credentials may be listed too, so you'll have an idea of who is providing the review and whether you are apt to find the commentary meaningful. 2. Read publishers' or writers' magazines. Many advertise prominent new titles or offer reviews of books in print, and you may be able to find titles categorized by genre or author. 3. Keep tabs on your favorite authors. Many post Web sites that list previous, current, and upcoming titles, along with book excerpts or sample chapters. Some even discuss their reasons for writing the book or how they developed some of their characters. Visitors can get a feel for the new work to decide if it's something they want to read. 4. Join or visit a specific genre organization. National or international groups hold conferences, maintain Web sites, and publish ezines with the latest information on specific genres and authors. Science fiction, romance novels, and other types of writing enjoy huge numbers of followers who stay in touch via the organization. Cruise by a favorite genre type for information about upcoming selections. 5. Study a book's front and back covers. The front typically offers a visible lure with a titillating graphic, compelling statistics, or an editor's blurb that will prompt readers to start reading. On the back you may find author information, reviewers' excerpts, and a brief summary of the book's contents. Sometimes sales information is included. 6. Check the table of contents or inside covers. A table of contents may list chapter names unless chapters are only numbered, which many are. The book may be divided further into larger sections that are named to give readers a better idea of the themes developed throughout the book. If the book is a hardback with a paper cover, the inside cover pages may include authorial detail or a plot summary.
Don't waste your time and money in making a random selection of reading material unless you like surprises. Spend a few minutes browsing sites, links, and covers to find one that will be worth the effort.
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