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Take a hike, Literally

The warm and sunny fall we are blessed with this year represents a perfect time for hiking. It is a great way for the whole family to get away from the busy daily life and enjoy nature and the company of each other.

For those who are new to hiking, here are some basic tips:

  • Find your pace: With the uneven surface and terrain, altitude, and the load of the backpack, hiking is more difficult than walking. You have to adjust the speed according to the trail. Start with your walking speed and adjust according to how you feel. Don't rush. Going faster consumes more energy and so will leave you more fatigue at the end.
  • Maintain a good rhythm: Keep consistent steps and rhythm. Again, don't rush at the beginning while you are fresh. You'll have better endurance by maintaining a steady rhythm. Plus, you will be able to enjoy the scenery better if you are not grasping for air. 
  • Take breaks regularly: Breaks give your heart, lung and muscle recovery time and help you maintain your endurance. Experts recommend taking a 10-minute break for every hour of hiking. However, you need to adjust to your own pace.
  • Stay on course: Safety first. Follow the marked trail.
  • Stay hydrated: You'll lose a litre of fluid per hour in hot weather. Stay hydrated by drinking a small amount consistently. Always bring extra in case you are forced to take a detour.
  • Choose good boots and socks: Depending on the length and the difficulty of your hike, you may be able to wear a good pair of sneakers. If you plan on doing more serious hikes, consider light to mid-weight hiking boots that will give your feet and ankles better support. Break them in first before your hike. Socks that wick away moisture will be more comfortable.
  • Wear long-sleeves and pants for areas that are rugged or have many bushes: Keep your legs and arms covered can prevent unnecessary scratches or possible allergic reaction to unknown plants.

There are many in-city trails around the Puget Sound area. You can jump in during a break at work, or take a relaxing stroll in the evening. Examples include the Washington Park Arboretum and the Burke Gilman Trails on the Seattle side, and the Mercer Slough and Bellefields Nature Parks Trails by downtown Bellevue. To locate trails around your neighborhood, see www.trails.com.

There are also many short hikes that are very accessible along I-90, Highways 2 and 20. You can locate these hikes using the above site or see www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes. There are also many books on the subject, such as the Mountaineers Books and the Sasquatch Books series, that you can locate in the library.

Hope to see you on the trail.