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Top 10 Novice Hiking Mistakes

By Editorial Staff

A list of the top ten novice hiking mistakesContributed by Tim Brugger, Top 10 Guru

When hiking, planning for the worst and hoping for the best are words to live by. When hiking excursions turn ugly, it is often due to planning negligence.

Don’t let the following mishaps befall you; anyone one of which can ruin your entire day.

Here are the top ten novice hiker mistakes:

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10. Wrong shoes

Non-hiking shoes is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

Leave the Birkenstocks, Vans, pumps and stilettos in the car, and put on a decent pair of hiking boots. Yes, the new dress shoes look great, but not up a steep incline in the middle of God’s country. Hiking boots are sturdy and provide better traction; not to mention your feet won’t feel like they’ve been through a meat grinder when your hike is done.

9. Not enough water

Not enough water is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

Yes, water is heavy, and it’s possible your pack already feels like you’re crammed a VW in there. However, after a few hours of hiking up and down hills, ravines and scaling sheer cliffs, you will get thirsty, of this I assure you. A deep pull from the water bottle around midday will taste like the finest, aged Bordeaux on the planet; without the hangover.

8. Forgetting your communication device

Forgetting a phone is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

Stepping outside the house, let alone going hiking, without a cell phone may seem next to impossible for many, but rushing out the door has caused the best of us to forget things. This is an instance of technology filling what was a huge void for hikers, being truly incommunicado with the outside world. Now, this doesn’t mean a hiker should have the phone glued to their ear ordering pizza, regardless of their delivery area. Though, it would be fun to see them get this one delivered in 30 minutes or less.

7. Charge your communication device

Forgetting to charge a phone is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

While #8 on our countdown may seem as likely as Amelia Earhart guest hosting The Tonight Show, neglecting to charge the communication device the night before is altogether too common. Giving it a check the night before if the hike starts early could potentially be a life saver.

6. Checking the weather forecast

Forgetting to check the weather forecast is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

Contrary to popular belief, the weather does not always cooperate with a days hike. Even checking the day before, or the day of, does not mean a hiker should be unprepared for inclement weather, but it will help determine the appropriate togs to wear. Throwing some warm outerwear or rainwear and a warm, dry sweater or sweatshirt in the bottom of the backpack is always a good idea.

5. Failing to avoid bears, mountain lions and assorted wildlife that are known to eat humans

Not avoiding wildlife is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

As experienced hikers know, we share the mountains, streams and deserts we hike in with beasts of all makes and models. While most are great to witness first hand, there are some that would just as soon eat a hand. Avoid becoming a large carnivore’s next meal by making some noise on your hike. Most creatures would just as soon avoid us as much as we wish to avoid them. So, tip toeing is not recommended.

4. Playing with shiny leaves

Playing with poison ivy is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

Exploring the local flora and fauna is part of the joy of hiking. But some plants, poison ivy for example, are best left alone. These are the little, primarily green with red undertones, unassuming purveyors of hell on earth. Avoid them by bringing a book on the regional plant life. Make sure your first aid kit includes hydrocortisone cream in individual packets to ease any itch from an accidental encounter. Oh, and if you neglected to bring toilet tissue, poison ivy is definitely not an appropriate substitute.

3. Going too far

Failing to judge distance is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

The Pilates classes have been going great, and now it’s time to go hiking. Whoa, easy now. Hiking for the uninclined will use muscles long since forgotten. For novice hikers, start with a few shorter, relatively easy to traverse hikes to begin. Then, after you have a better sense for your limitations, let the Pilates rip!

2. Forgetting GPS or compass

Forgetting GPS or compass is a novice hiking mistake

Following a trail when hiking doesn’t seem like it would take a nuclear physicist-like mind to figure out. However, as the exploration begins, and the decision is made to go in one direction instead of another, then the rain or clouds — or snow — come and reduce visibility, it can all get pretty confusing in a hurry. With the handheld GPS devices available, these should be mandatory equipment for novice hikers everywhere. For the more advanced, nothing wrong with going old school and busting out the compass; just because you can.

1. First aid kit

Forgetting a first aid kit is one of the top ten novice hiking mistakes

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One quick fall, or brush up against list item #4 and you’ll be glad the time was taken to put together a small first aid kit. This doesn’t need to include defibrillators and tourniquets, but there are a few items to bring along: bandages, calamine, anti-bacterial lotion for cuts, aspirin, an ace bandage and other standard issue first aid kit accessories.


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