The days are growing longer, the sun is hotter, the bees are buzzing, and animals of all shapes and sizes, from invertebrates to birds and reptiles, are out in abundance. There’s no doubt about it, winter came and went and now Spring has sprung! This past winter brought a lot of rain and wet weather across the country, and has left a beautiful green landscape behind. All of life on this planet requires water for survival. With the record amount of rains received this past winter, that sends waves across the entire food chain. But don’t just take my word for it, see for yourself. Maybe you have a trail near your home you’ve walked before, or maybe you’ll have to get in a car and find a local trail. Lace your hiking shoes up and head outdoors for one of the simplest joys in life, take a hike!
Why Should I Hike?
For many, just getting out into nature to soak in a beautiful day is reason enough to go hiking. But you should know it has other benefits as well. Doctors recommend exercising for a minimum of 20 minutes every day. Few exercises are as fun as going outdoors and soaking up the sunlight on a nature hike. Humans need sunlight to make Vitamin D which we need to stay healthy. Regular exercise like hiking will also keep your heart and lungs healthy, and if you’re hiking up hills or taking long hikes, you can also burn fat and increase muscle as well.
I like to hike because I get a chance to stop and actually smell fresh wildflowers. Also, hiking allows me to spot animals in their natural environment, instead of just watching them on our Critter Squad YouTube channel. If you know where to look, you can spot all sorts of animals, from tiny invertebrates like isopods and beetles, to truly incredible animals like the bald eagle. So not only can you get back to nature, you’ll be making your body stronger and healthier as well.
I Don’t Know Where I Can Go For A Hike
The best part about hiking is that you don’t need a membership or any special facility to hike in. Hiking is basically just walking outdoors. If you live in Southern California, like me, it’s real easy to find a trail. I simply go outside, spot the nearest hillside or mountains and follow the road in that direction. You’ll usually find a trail this way. If you prefer a more modern approach to finding your trail, plenty of websites exist to aid you in your quest, like Alltrails.com. But hiking doesn’t have to be something done far away. You can take a hike in the neighborhood and spot birds in the trees, and insects and possibly rodents along the ground or in the bushes. What’s important is that you’re out getting some fresh air and exercise, and getting to enjoy the nature that is around you everyday.
I Want To Hike Off The Trail
In California, trails are marked and controlled by the U.S. Forest Service and the California Parks Department. The trails are kept clear of dangerous debris and have been used already. They typically have trash cans and sometimes dog waste stations. It’s important not to leave any trash behind. Going off of the trail poses a few unnecessary risks. You risk damaging the natural habitat by going off the trail, but also risk injury to yourself. The ground may not be sturdy enough, or there may be poisonous plants or venomous animals hiding out that you won’t see until it’s too late. When you’re are hiking somewhere that doesn’t have a trail, stay alert for any dangers and make sure you leave everything as you found it. If you flip over a rock to look for bugs, flip it back over the exact same way it was before. Read on if you’re truly fascinated by what nature has to offer, and consider becoming a herpetologist.
What Should I Bring?
Like all other living things, humans need water to survive. Never go hiking without proper hydration. For walks longer than 10 minutes, take a water bottle with you to stay properly hydrated. Any time you go out in the sun you should also wear sunscreen. For most hikes, you’ll only need a good pair of walking shoes. If you’re planning a hike in more rugged terrain, consider a good hiking boot with good tread on the soles. Wearing long pants is a good idea to protect against brush scratching or irritating your legs, or animal and insect bites, but wearing tall socks can help the same way. Also bring a curious mind, because there is so much to see besides just exercise. If you’re bringing your dog with you on a hike, don’t forget their water and bags to dispose of their poo. Don’t rush to the end of the trail, but stop and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature as well. And remember, leave only footprints and take only memories!