Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to take a hike

"Taking a hike is the best (and first) thing I've done so far this year!!!"

How I did it: The key to taking a hike is preparedness.  Know your destination.  Dress appropriately and bring along some gear that may be helpful or at least fun.

I looked up several potential destinations in my local area.  I found several helpful sites, local and national that pointed me in the right direction, which I'll list below.  The beauty of looking up potential destinations is that it also gets you really excited about finally going.  No I can't wait to go again and have plenty of options for when I do!

Being that it's still winter in New England, I took a look at a few sites discussing winter hiking and being prepared for them.  My three biggest take aways from those were:

  • dress warmly
  • stay hydrated
  • don't get lost
Wasn't sure I was actually going to go until yesterday evening.  So I decided on an easy one: The Cliff Walk in Newport, RI.  I guess folks would consider it a walk more than a hike, but navigating ice sheets covering the path, scrambling down boulders to take a shot closer to the water's edge, and a section of the path that's more boulder hopscotch than "path" a winter's hike maketh.  Suffice it to say: check!

The beauty of the Cliff Walk is that this activity is a two-fer.  I went on a hike AND took pictures at the beach during the winter.  Check and check!  Well I'll actually now have to go take pictures at the beach in spring summer and fall to truly call the second one a check, but you get the idea.

Anyway, as I said before, the whole adventure has gotten me primed to go on several more hiking adventures over the course of the year as I'd hoped it would.  Great goal, and cheers to anyone also planning to do it!

Lessons & tips: Here's what I wore for my winter hike:

  • hot chillies long johns (just the pants)
  • t-shirt
  • turtleneck
  • cotton sweater (overkill once I got going but helpful later in the day)
  • microfleece zip-top sweater
  • "army" cargo pants - (great for holding my digital camera, extra film and usuals: keys, wallet, phone)
  • Kinco WarmGrip work gloves - better for taking pictures w/o having to take gloves off
  • microfleece hood - never needed to pull up the hood, but it doubled as a scarf and stayed out of the way better than a regular scarf
  • basic comfy hiking boots - mine are a pair of 5-year old Rockport XCS's
Here's what I carried for my winter's hike (note this was a photo-excursion as well):
  • 1 full 700mL Nalgene bottle - with water...this time ;-)
  • Hot Fingers Skiing and Snowboarding gloves - just in case.  They're bulky and I never needed them so they stayed in the backpack.
  • 1 35mm SLR camera
  • 1 extra roll 24 exp 200 asa film - I'm from the old school...
  • 1 digital camera - ...but I'm all about learning new things!
    • also note: phone doubles as handy camera/camcorder.  see posted photo
  • Road map - in car for getting down to Newport (just in case)
  • Google Map directions to Cliff Walk starting point - I luv Google Maps for the phone ( as long as you only check directions at stoplights!
  • Extra change: for emergency calls and tolls ($4.00 round trip to Newport)
  • Back pack - gotta carry that stuff around somehow
What I wish I brought:
  • SD card for my digital camera
  • Extra batteries for my digital camera
  • Trail map/guide - would have been nice to see the full extent of the trail before hand and know a little bit more about the sights along the path.  I felt like an idiot having to ask about the Vanderbilt mansion (The Breakers) which is one of Newport's biggest attractions!
What I wish I'd done before I set off:
  • Remembered the items listed in the preceding section
  • Double-checked the film in my SLR - wasn't loaded properly on the first half of the walk, so wasted roll and opportunities.  But first time I've used it in years so it was nice enough to have it around my neck, let alone actually try to take some real pictures with it.
  • Packed extra socks - may sound stupid, but if for any reason your socks get messed up on a hike (wet, hole, porcupines), you gotta keep your feet happy.
I texted friends last minute the night before to see if anyone else wanted to come along, but all in all, I'm glad I did this one on my own.  I got to spend 3 solid hours out there, just me and the waves and the winter sky.  It was a beautiful day.  I'll definitely enjoy the company on future hikes, but all in all, glad that today was all mine.

Resources: Sites about Hiking and Trails in RI:

Sites About Hiking in Wintertime:

It took me 1 day.

It made me invigorated