Today we cover one of our favorite activities in Phase 2, hiking!  We love going for a walk in the woods and getting close to nature.  However, there are a few hints and tips we can pass along that will help your adventures go smoothly, be safe and be even more enjoyable.  Take a walk with us today. 

One thing that living in phase 2 has afforded us is more time for leisure activities and we LOVE the outdoors.  For us that means hiking.  We get to see so many places that can only be accessed by hiking and we have found that being prepared makes it so much more enjoyable.  Hiking is a great form of exercise in phase 2 of life.  It incorporates cardio and even a bit of strength.

 After many years as a scout master and hiking and backpacking for hundreds of miles I, Mike, have learned a few things over those miles and we’d like to pass them along today.  Also, note that many of these hints are NOT just when you are hiking in the woods, but are also applicable when you are on a long day touring a city or new area.  When you are prepared for any long time on your feet walking, it can make for a much more enjoyable day.

Have the Basics

First, let’s make sure you have the basics when you are out on a hike and that means you need to be able to carry some supplies and a good backpack is invaluable.   Look for a backpack with comfortable, padded shoulder straps, not just strings. Don’t get one too big.  Just big enough to charry what you need.  Having a waist strap is also a big help.  That positions the weight of the backpack lower on your waist vs. your shoulders which can make a huge difference on long hikes when you have to carry more with you.

So you have the pack, what you do you take with you.

 #1, first and foremost always bring water!  Hydrate or die!  That is not an exaggeration.  When travelling you may not realize the lack of water or length of a hike.  This goes not just for hiking, but also when traveling, walking around cities, or on excursions.  Bring more than you think.  We were on a recent hike we thought should have been about 8 miles and it ended up being almost 13!   That’s a huge difference and thank goodness we brought plenty of water.  

Another reason to say hydrated is you will feel better at the end of the hike.  By saying hydrated your muscles will feel better overall, post long day out.  Preventing fatigue and headaches.

A general rule of thumb is you need about 32 oz. / ½ liter of water per hour when doing moderate activity.  In the US Desert Southwest or areas at higher elevations or low humidity you are going to use a lot more water and won’t even realize it.  So, plan accordingly. You can carry your water in bottles either disposable or reusable or as a hydration pack, if your pack is made for that.  One item to note with hydro-packs is be sure to keep them clean as the hoses can be a little difficult, so don’t ever put anything in them but fresh water.

Finally don’t drink water from a source if you’re not sure of it’s safety.  If you are in a city touring, especially a foreign area, stick with SEALED bottled water or as a last resort soda.  They will be safe.

 So you have the pack and the water, what else do you need in that pack?

  • Water
  • Snacks – something that won’t spoil. Enough for your expected day.  High protein snacks like nuts or meat sticks are a good choice
  • Small first aid kit
    • As for the first aid kit, just keep it simple with some bandages for small scrapes, wipes to clean the area and tweezers
    • Band-Aids
    • Tweezers (for thorns)
    • Ibuprofen (we aren’t that young anymore)
    • Tylenol
  • Small knife
  • Mole skin
    • – This is really on of the most important, as nothing is worse than a blister, that can make your fun adventure miserable.
    • For the moles skin I use precut mole skin forms from a multipack.  I use the preformed ones since it is so difficult to cut moleskin and these are very quick and easy to use.
  •  Sunscreen
      • Skin cancer is no joke and the best prevention, after clothing your best protection is a good sunscreen. 
      • Nancy and I have our preferences when it comes to sun screen. Nancy is a sprayer and Mike is on team lotion.  With my light complexion I want all the protection I get and lotions vs. sprays.  I believe they give a better coverage and last longer, especially when in and out of the water.
      • Sprays are easier but you need to make sure to get good coverage. Don’t spray the face, as you can get it in your eyes, use a lotion there.  When spraying spray until your skin glistens and then even if it says “no rub” rub it in anyway for the best protection. 
      • One of the best and most affordable out there are the Walmart Equate products. Their Equate Ulta Lotion or sprays SPF 50 are great price and rated top performer. 
  • Bug Spray
  • Walking sticks
  • Your cell phone
  • A cat kit – explained in a bit.

 Let’s talk clothes for the day out.

 Your first line of defense from the sun and insects is your clothing.  Always wear a hat.  This is some of the best protection against both ticks and the sun.  Your attire should include good walking/hiking shoes appropriate to the terrain, with good socks.  Long pants and long sleave shirt may also be appropriate, especially depending on where you are going.  You may be thinking that will be hot and uncomfortable, but there are some great breathable products out there that protect from the sun and insects and keep you cooler by keeping the sun off your skin.  Of course, you always want to dress for your adventure, and these are just guidelines and something to think about.

Let’s talk about Bugs for a minute. 

It is critical that you protect yourself from various insect bites.  These can not only be a nuisance but can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus, Lyme’s Disease, and malaria. 

 In addition to your clothing, you need a good insect repellent.  When it comes to bug spray. There are a ton of them out there, none still works as well as those with Deet as the active ingredient with at least 25 to 30 percent concentration.   We believe you don’t want to take a chance on Lyme’s disease, West Nile, malaria or other illnesses and Deet has long been shown to offer the best protection.   Additionally, you can treat your clothing with a Permethrin spray that will actually last a few treatments.  However, DO NOT use this directly on your skin.  It is designed to treat clothing.  I used these products when traveling the world in areas with malaria risk with great success. 

Now, let’s talk about an uncomfortable subject, going on the go…  This is where you need your cat kit.

When you must go #1 while hiking just be sure to do it far from the trail.  Don’t do it on any trees.  That’s right guys don’t pee on the tree.  It causes animals to chew the bark and wood to get at the salt.  It’s best to aim at a rock where animals can get the salt as a salt lick but do no damage.

How about #2?   First make sure you know any special rules about going in the area you are hiking.  Some have prohibitions, other don’t allow any TP to be left behind, so it’s good to check that out if you are going on a long hike in remote areas without bathroom access.

When you go in the woods you use what’s called a “Cat Hole”.  What is that?   It’s a hole you dig for your business that is at least 200 feet from any water source, camp, or trail and is 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches wide.  Once you are off the trail be sure to consider your surroundings and squatting position before digging to make sure it’s properly located, and you can go in the position.  Once you go it is recommended to pack the TP out with you, but not required in most areas, just make sure you are using a biodegradable TP.  If you pack it out, carry a marked Ziplock with you. You can even cover the Ziplock in duct tape to hide the contents.  Then dispose when you get back to civilization.

NEVER leave any feminine product, wet wipes, or other items like this behind, always pack them out.

After you are done, re-cover with the dirt you dug out and scatter leaves or other material cover hand hide the evidence. 😊 

Carry a cat kit (sounds better than poop kit 😊)   Have biodegradable TP, a small portable hand trowel, hand sanitizer, and a pack out Ziploc.   It’s always good to have in your pack, just in case. 

If you take away anything from this, PLEASE don’t leave TP on or near the trail.  When hiking in the UP it was terrible.  It was like TP flowers everywhere.  Please think of nature and others on the trail, even when you need to go.  Keep nature for everyone.

Have fun!

Friends, we hope this has been helpful when it comes to travel and hiking.  Our goal is to make your adventures as enjoyable as possible, passing along our experiences.

Make it a great Living Phase 2 day,