The best hiking season is approaching and you may be wondering “how do I get started?”. Experience aside, even seasoned hikers can find themselves coming out of a winter hiatus wondering if they’re trail ready. We’re here to tell you that if you’re just getting back to the mountains or discovering them for the first time, there’s no need to worry.
Here are some tips and tricks to get you ready for your adventure!
First on the list is water! Wherever you go and for however long, plan how much water you pack accordingly. Although most hikes will have water sources along the way, it’s not always guaranteed to be available. It’s important to bring at least 2 liters with you. The longer the trail and hotter the day, plan for more.
Go With a Buddy
Hiking with a friend is something you should always do. Having the physical and mental support of a friend provides comfort and a level of security that you wouldn’t otherwise have if you went alone. Together, you can share the weight of planning, assign each other responsibilities, take fun photos and the biggest perk of all…share each other’s snacks.
Contact us (email@example.com) if you’re looking for an organized group hike and we’ll point you in the right direction.
Know Where You’re Going
Famliarize yourself with the route you’ll be hiking. Use the HIKEArmenia app to download the maps offline to have access to them while you’re on the trails. Discuss start and end times with your buddy or group and share any knowledge you might have about the area that might help prepare.
When in doubt, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or come by our office located in the heart of Yerevan from 10 AM-7 PM Mon.-Fri.
Every hobby has its go-to list of best clothing and gear and hiking is no different. A first time hiker shouldn’t be discouraged from planning their first trip or declining an invite from friends because they don’t have the best shoes, the newest backpack, or the lightest hiking pole. Simply, understand what terrain you’ll be walking in, check the weather, and ask what you prioritize for yourself in safety and comfort.
Footwear - Sometimes you don’t even need boots to go for a hike. Taking into consideration how muddy or rocky the terrain is and the weather for that day, you could very well get away with wearing sneakers that have some grip on the bottom and good support around the ankles.
- Spring - Wet trails can mean sinking your feet into mud. The region of Vayots Dzor will be relatively dry so try the Martiros Waterfall Trail (Martiros Waterfall) and the Gomk to Martiros Trail (Cobblestone Road)
- Summer - Most everywhere will be dry in this season. You may want to buy a pair of gaiters to to avoid rocks and pebbles from settling into you sneakers. Protecting yourself from the sun will be most important during Armenia’s hot summers.
- Fall - The Parz Lake to Dilijan Trail (Twist & Shout) in the Tavush region and the Odzun to Sanahin Trail (Canyon Railway) in the Lori region will be dry and sneaker friendly.
- Winter - Boots and even snowshoes will be necessary so it will be worth investing in them if you plan to do a lot of winter hiking. The Aparan Reservoir Loop (Oh Dam!) is perfect for this season. Contact us to find out where you can find snowshoes and recommended stores to find boots.
*Choose shorter hikes when not sure how long your sneakers will be comfortable for.
Hiking Poles - Not always necessary. Trails like Byurakan to Orgov (Cosmic Trip) and Angel’s Canyong (Angel’s Canyong Loop) don’t have drastic inclines and declines and can be done without hiking poles, depending on your ability. Using fallen and sturdy branches can always help when you need a little pick-me-up. Just don’t forget to leave it in sight for the next hiker when you’ve finished.
Clothing - The big name brands will boast that their clothing will maximize performance as a hiker but this is neither necessary nor always true.Take a look in your closet and find what’s breathable, gives you the coverage you need from the elements and the sun, is comfortable and can be layered.
Backpack - Unless you’re carrying a lot of weight for a long trek, find a backpack that is comfortable to wear, offers some back support and most importantly, position it correctly on your shoulders and lower back. This can mean a world of a difference whether you’re carrying 10 kilos or 2.
The most important tip (other than packing enough water, of course) is to take into consideration where and when you are going. Improvise what you can and invest in what’s important!
Get In Shape
This doesn’t mean you have to get a gym membership months in advance. To some, hiking might seem like it requires a lot of physical strength while others underestimate the demand on your body. The reality is somewhere in between and here’s how you can get started.
Go for long walks - Hiking requires a good amount of endurance. Unless planning a trek to a mountain peak, your trip will most likely consist of moderate inclines and declines. Taking walks, choosing stairs over the escalator, and going up and down hills will get you ready for those longer days in the woods and mountains.
Stretch - Stretching is somewhat akin to flossing. We all know we have to do it, and yet we rarely do. Stretching before and after allows you to improve your range of motion and warms up your body; minimizing the chances of injury and soreness.
Strengthening Exercises - Run a quick search online for glute, quadricep, hamstring, shoulder and back exercises with or without equipment. A variation of these will help you feel confident and reduce risk of injury.
Understand your weak points. Do your knees tend to hurt? Are your ankles strong? Does your back hurt when carrying weight? Give extra attention to those little aches and pains and find specific movements that will help strengthen those muscles and joints.
Keep An Eye on the Time
Even though everyone should be mindful of the time, if you are hiking for the first time in your life, or hiking on a trail that is new to you, leave yourself a good margin of error when estimating how long it will take. Consider the terrain, your walking speed, the weather and how your body is feeling when deciding what time to start and when to turn back.
When in doubt contact us for advice and information on suggested travel time given your specific conditions.
Anyone will tell you that the biggest reward in hiking are the views but coming in second place is the meals (before and after) and the snacks in between. Fill up on proteins and carbs like rice, whole-grain pasta and oatmeal the day before and pack lots of healthy-fat snacks like nuts and seeds. Treat yourself to whatever you’re craving when you’re done - no one’s judging and you definitely earned it!
You didn’t forget about the water, right? Good.
Have A Good Time
Hiking provides everyone the chance to leave their busy lives and enjoy nature in a personal and rewarding way. Take time to capture the moments that are memorable to you, enjoy the opportunity to put away your phone, make new friends, and take on a new activity that has long lasting benefits.
Check out our Practical Advice blog for hiking in Armenia to help plan for your trip. We’ll see you out on the trails!