Hiking is a fun and sometimes challenging activity that has many health benefits for you, such as giving you the chance to get some exercise into your day.
If you’ve never been on a hike, it can be a frightening experience, especially if you aren’t fit or well acquainted with the outdoors. Here’s how to tackle some common hiking fears.
If you’re worried about going on a hike because it’s completely out of your fitness comfort zone, it’ll make you feel better to know that you really don’t need to be in excellent shape to do it. Hiking can be enjoyed by people of any age, fitness level, and with any body shape under the sun.
Besides, there are many hiking trails for beginners that you can try which don’t have to feel scary.
An example is Fern Canyon in California that offers stunning views of trees and elk, with a few water crossings that add personality to the hike while still maintaining its low-effort trails.
Let’s look at some other common hiking fears and how to deal with them so that they don’t get in the way of an enjoyable hiking experience.
You Worry About Not Keeping Up With More Experienced Hikers
It’s normal to worry that you’ll be panting miles behind fitter and more experienced hikers in your group, but try to pace yourself on your hike.
This saves your energy and allows you to stop, take a few deep breaths of the crisp mountain air, and maybe take some pictures of the glorious views.
Slowing down can actually be a good thing, so embrace it, especially when you’re hiking somewhere spectacular, such as to Smugglers Cove.
The trail displays beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and islands, before leading through an olive grove to a quiet beach. You’ll definitely not want to rush it.
You Worry About Accidents Or Injuries
It might sound strange to say you shouldn’t pack too much in your first aid kit, but it’s true. You shouldn’t pack anything you wouldn’t use or know how to use because this just adds weight to your backpack, making your hike uncomfortable.
You really only need the basics: bandages, gauze, painkillers, insect repellent, alcohol wipes, and antihistamines.
The most important item to have in the case of an emergency is not antibiotics or rolls and rolls of gauze, but your cell phone.
If a serious emergency does happen, such as a snake bite or a fall, you’re going to want to get help ASAP because you’re probably not going to be able to deal with it yourself anyway. Having your cell phone with you is key to making you feel more confident in the outdoors.
You Fear Losing Your Balance Or Falling
If you’re new at climbing and worry you’ll lose your balance on an uphill trail, you should rely on trekking poles to help you safely along your way.
These help to protect your knees while you climb, and keep your body balanced on the steep curves you encounter. They also come in handy if rocks are wet and slippery, making you feel more confident about hiking and less worried about falling.
You Fear Not Being Prepared Enough
Preparation anxiety is common for new hikers, but once you’ve got decent hiking gear, snacks for long hikes, water, SPF, and good hiking boots, you don’t need much else.
Relieve your fear that you’re not prepped for the outdoors or the hike by remembering that hiking is really just walking outdoors. It also helps to hike with someone you trust who has some experience. Keep the solo hikes for when you’re more experienced and much more confident.
You Fear Encountering Snakes On The Trail
The idea of hiking in the bush or mountains can be scary because of the snakes that possibly inhabit them, but rest assured that they’re probably more afraid of you than you are of them. They’re also not that common.
Although there are over 33 snake species in California, less than 10 percent of all snake sightings in California are of venomous snakes.
The key is to be aware of your surroundings, and avoid resting on the ground where snakes could be hiding in nearby bushes, or holding onto rocks during a climb that could have snakes under them.
Make loud stamping noises if you do rest, to scare off nearby snakes. Wear socks and hiking boots to protect your feet and legs.
Remember that 70 to 80 percent of snake bites occur because people try to kill the snakes or see them up close. Avoid doing both to stay safe.
Hiking brings you right into nature, providing you with beautiful scenery to enjoy as well as some physical activity that will boost your endorphins. But if you’ve never been on a hike before, it can be a bit daunting.
By tackling common hiking fears such as the above, you can enter the fun and exciting world of hiking, and leave your anxiety behind.
Danger: hiking is addictive – once you try it, you’ll want to do it again and again!
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