When is the last time you explored a new nature trail?
During my first-time adventure there, I wasn’t quite as prepared as I might have been and struggled a bit to finish the journey on time. So, by necessity, this list became my must-haves for a day’s hiking trip. Even though there were some challenges, we spotted wild turkeys, encountered some alligators, and were able to see over 10 varieties of oak trees; all of which made it worth it in the end.
Research says spending time outside and being close to nature is good for your health. As a matter of fact, simple walks in green parks can lift your mood considerably and help with treating mild depression… perfect reasons to start planning some hikes, even if they are short, one-day hikes.
Each day’s adventure requires some real work and preparation.
Once you’ve picked the trail, you can easily make a list of essential items to bring along. For me, that list always starts with the same five things. I will never go without these items for safety reasons, as well as to ensure an enjoyable and memorable trip.
1) Sun protection. Pack a sunscreen that is safe to use on your face as well as your body. You can find some now that come with bug repellent, and this is not a bad idea. Two jobs accomplished in one application! Also, the smaller the size the better. It’s a day trip and you don’t want to add too much weight to your pack. Also, don’t forget lip balm, hat and sunglasses. Even if it’s a warm day, I like to wear a long-sleeve shirt and pants when hiking through vegetation. I suggest searching online for clothing with UV protection and made with lightweight materials (which will keep your body cooler).
2) Rain poncho. I found one that is just perfect for day hikes. It folds up very small, but when open it is big enough to cover me and my pack. It also serves as a great “tarp” to sit on during eating breaks, and it serves as an emergency cover if you need it. It is imperative that you check the weather extensively before you go on your one-day hike, and you should always be prepared with a poncho.
3) Swiss Army knife gadget. This item makes me feel a bit like “MacGyver” every time I use it. You never know when you need to snip a branch, cut a piece of clothing, or patch up broken gear. Bring along a small roll of duct tape as a supplement for your gadget.
4) Hydration. Don’t just bring a small water bottle! It’s important to keep in mind the amount of refreshment you need to bring. You will be carrying it the entire time; therefore, weight will be an issue. You want to stay hydrated before going on your hike, too. As preparation, drink up to one quart of water an hour before taking off for your hike. Then, carry about one quart for each two hours of hiking time. It’s not a bad idea to invest in a water bottle with a filtration system, so you can refill from water sources along the trail when hiking for longer periods of time.
5) Food. This is another very important element for a full day hike. You must have fuel to complete your journey, but weight is an issue as well as portability. You need the kind of food that will sustain you for long periods of time, but that can exist without refrigeration. The nutrition you bring with you should also be balanced in terms of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Avoid foods that may be irritating to your digestive system since you will be walking for long periods of time. One essential I must bring along on every hike (no matter how long) is my almond butter squeeze packs. The single packs are the perfect size for a snack, or you can bring along some bread or tortilla for lunch as well and slather it with the nut butter. Check out the recipe below for an easy granola, which is perfect for keeping up your energy. Add it to yogurt prior to your hike, or brink along to munch on.
Homemade Gluten Free Granola
4 cups certified gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup Hemp Hearts
1/3 rounded cup rough-chopped organic almonds
1/3 rounded cup rough-chopped organic pecans
1/3 rounded cup rough-chopped organic cashews
1/2 cup pure organic maple syrup
6 tablespoon extra virgin organic olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup organic dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, hemp hearts, almonds, pecans and cashews.
In a glass measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil and cinnamon. Mix well with a fork. Drizzle the syrup mixture over the oats, and stir as you go. Gently keep stirring until all the oats are coated with the syrup blend.
Spread the granola mixture onto the two baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden and toasty. Check the granola half way through baking time to stir gently. Remove from the oven and allow the pan to cool a bit. Pour the cooled granola into a large bowl. Add in the dried cranberries and stir.
Store in an air-tight container.
Add 1/4 teaspoon salt if your nuts are unsalted.
And in your favorite fruits, seeds or coconut.