Get Lost: Hiking tips for the new hiker

Believe it or not hiking doesn’t have to be hard.

Sure people talk about the challenge of a gruelling, lengthy day hike and the accomplishment it is. And that’s a big part of why I enjoy it.

But, it doesn’t have to be gruelling, it doesn’t have to take all day and the accomplishment can be as simple as getting out of the house and seeing something new.

Here are some tips to getting someone who says they don’t want to hike or is timid about it because of the nature of hardcore hiking.

l Choose the hike wisely. This doesn’t necessarily mean stick to a flat and short hike, though that can be a good idea for some. One of my favourite hikes was Iceline trail in Yoho National Park, which according to Parks Canada is a 20 km hike. The way we approached it, the incline was steady, but all the way up we were treated to water falls, alpine lakes and stunning views.

Though it was a lengthy hike, it had good, rewarding places to rest and the high point had a great view of Takakkaw Falls.

l Take breaks. Don’t worry about how long it will take to do the hike, stop, rest and enjoy it. Some people may need a rest after a daunting stretch, other may not but it doesn’t hurt to stop and take in your surroundings. Have a snack, take a picture and stay hydrated. Hikes aren’t timed events.

l Moderate encouragement. While it can be nice to encourage someone who is struggling or not enjoying the hike as much, it can also get annoying. A better approach is to point out something on the hike, a view, a stream, some wildlife or something that can distract people who are tiring or sore from the hike.

l Keep a conversation going. Similar to distracting hikers by pointing out a sight, having a running dialogue helps. It also makes enough noise to keep some predators away, bears would rather not engage humans and having a loud enough group can keep them from wandering to where they don’t want to be.

l Have a goal. Getting back to the Iceline trail hike, there was a definitive goal. A rewarding end. Something to take into account when choosing a hike is to make the payoff especially nice. I think it’s one of the reasons Tunnel Mountain is so popular in Banff, it has a rewarding view of the landscape while being achievable for average people.

If it’s going really poorly, be prepared to turn around. Don’t let someone feel like they ruined your hike, because they may not want to come back with you. Go as far as they want and when they’re ready to go back, so are you.

Murray Crawford is an Advocate reporter/editor.

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