By Shelly Stinson
Preparing for a big hike involves a lot of logistical concerns. You’ll have to pick a destination (We recommend these Utah peaks) but beyond that you’ll need to choose a starting point and time, figure out how long of a hike you’re looking at, and coordinate these details with anyone you may be heading out with. And that’s without even getting into the issue of making sure you have the gear you need, either for a day trek or for a potential camping experience.
But part of the preparation for a big hike that’s often overlooked is that you also need to get yourself ready from a health and nutrition standpoint, particularly at Utah’s high altitudes.
Before you set out, take into account some of the best advice out there for any fitness or nutrition routine: make sure that the exercise you’re about to undergo fits into your larger fitness routine. Setting out on a hike spontaneously can be thrilling, and if it’s not a particularly challenging hike, you’ll likely be fine.
But it’s best to build up to the experience and make sure your body is prepared. I’m not recommending a specific approach, but following a routine by creating a fitness schedule for you—and you alone—will help you have the best hiking experience possible.
Packing for the Trail
Once you’ve set up your hike from a logistical standpoint, your main health concern becomes packing the right items for the trail. First, make sure you have enough water on hand. While that seems somewhat obvious, it’s important to remember how much easier it is to become dehydrated when exerting yourself physically at altitude. The recommended minimum is two quarts per person for a day hike, and naturally this number goes up if it’s particularly hot out or if you’re hiking for multiple days.
Of course, you also have to worry about bringing along hiking-friendly food. You should always pack a snack, even for small hikes that might take up only a portion of the day. Simply put, your body is going to need energy, and trying to go on water alone can be unhealthy. There are plenty of recommended snacks for hikers that are easy to prepare, light to carry, and give you energy to keep going throughout your hike. Hiking without adequate energy can truly be miserable, not to mention dangerous if you get lost or the hike takes longer than expected.
By taking these steps before you head out, you can ensure you’ll be in good health for your hike and truly enjoy the experience.
Shelly Stinson is an online journalist who lives in Denver, Colo. and enjoys writing about fitness, health, and outdoor activities. You can find her on Twitter retweeting stories about her hometown and sharing insights on what makes it so great.