Do’s and Don’ts of Long Hikes

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and I decided to go on a hike. The issue was we wanted a challenge and everything we were finding in Quebec seemed too short. Then my friend mentioned Mount Mansfield in Vermont, so next thing we knew we were on our way. It turns out that Mount Mansfield is the highest point in Vermont with an elevation of 1,339 meters. This, however, did not deter us despite being relatively inexperienced hikers who have never hiked anything nearly this intense. 

We were told it would take about four hours and it took us six. We ran out of water, entered another biome (alpine tundra), had to hike a portion of it in the dark and our entire bodies hurt immensely. It was one of the most physically challenging things I’ve ever done but at least the views were great. 

So, as great as this hike was we definitely learned a lot about where we went wrong and where we went right, so here are some dos and don’ts I’ve thought of to help you out on your next hike. 

 

DO wear waterproof shoes. We had to cross multiple creeks and mud puddles and hiking with cold wet feet is not very comfortable. 

DO pack more water than you think you’ll need. I packed two water bottles thinking that would be plenty and they were gone before we reached the top. Alternatively, you could bring a water filter or a water bottle with a built-in filter and fill up your bottle in a creek. 

DO dress appropriately. This is especially important if you’re going on a hike with a high altitude. It’ll be cold up top so what was keeping you warm or comfortable towards the bottom might just not cut it. I had a sweater an light jacket but was freezing. I wish I had a warmer coat and gloves. Keep this in mind when planning your next hike. 

DO plan ahead and stick to it as much as possible. Once we arrived, we decided to switch which peak we were going to climb- opting for the higher one. This change of plans added an hour.  

 

DON’T start your hike too late in the day. You don’t want to end up walking for 45 minutes in the dark, being stressed whenever you didn’t automatically see a trail marker and thinking about all the horror movies that start that way.

DON’T skip breakfast. Also, make sure to pack a big lunch and lots of snacks. Hiking takes a lot of energy so you’ll need food to rejuvenate yourself and keep your energy up. I would NOT have been able to finish this hike without food. Trust me, you’ll need it. 

DON’T necessarily take the guide’s word on everything. While they often provide every helpful guidance, sometimes they’re wrong or misjudge. We talked with a park worker before we started the hike and he was telling us it would take about 2 hours to reach the top. It took us four. Think about adding a couple of extra hours than you think you’re going to need. 

Submerging yourself into nature can always come with some unexpected bumps but its well worth it. It may take some extra time to plan ahead but it’ll allow you to enjoy your hike more. These dos and don’t can give you an idea of things to keep in mind.