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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hiking In Autumn - How to Plan a Hike

Hiking in is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy being outdoors and adore a scenic trail that will allow me to watch birds, wildlife and view the foliage. I also enjoy taking photographs of the beauty that surrounds me.  

Today was a beautiful Indian summer day, the sun was bright and the temperature was in the mid 50's. So I set off on the trail close to my home with my border collie Jerry. 

My dog Jerry has hiked with me for the past 11 years and his footing is precise and knows when I should be cautious. He has pulled me away from steep terrain, rushing water, and has stopped me from going down many trails. Jerry looks out for me whenever I am hiking in the woods by my home.
My border collie Jerry walking on nature trail

If I am familiar with the trail I will hike with my trusted friend Jerry, otherwise for nature hikes in state parks I always go with a group of friends. When you hike with friends it is enjoyable, it is also safer especially if you are unfamiliar with the terrain. Plan your hike on a sunny day when there is no wind. 
Make a list of all of the nature trails in your area.  Contact the park ranger to see if there are any special hikes; owl watch, wildlife or beaver watches are a few of my favorite hikes that I like to go on.  The Audubon Nature Center conducts seasonal hikes where you can learn more about nature.  Plan your nature hike by selecting an upcoming walk or hike at your local nature center or state park.

For short day hikes bring a backpack and fill it with; plenty of water, a cell phone, first aid kit, insect repellent, toilet paper, sun screen, rain gear, binoculars, camera, magnifying glass, fruit, protein bar and a nonperishable sandwich.  Rain gear is important because the weather can change and the gear will block wind, sleet and rain.  Dress in clothing that is comfortable and not binding and wear layers, you can always take something off and place in your backpack if you are warm, however if you are cold you cannot put on a sweatshirt if you do not have one. Always wear a shoe made for hiking as it will help you hold your footing of uneven terrain.

Whenever I arrive at a state park I will check in with the park ranger, this is a safety precaution as well as an inquiry about the trails. Some trails may be under water, in repair and some may have reports of bear or bobcat. So it is always best to check in with the ranger before you start down a trail that you are unfamiliar with.
I like to hike in the morning as that is when the birds are most active. 

Sunset hikes are scenic and you can get some great photographs of wildlife, however wildlife comes out at sunset to forage and I prefer to view the end of the day in a populated area of the park. 

Autumn is my favorite time of the year; the leaves on the trees are brightly hued in gold, red, and yellow and orange and the air is fresh.

If you love nature then why don't you plan a nature hike for you and your family. Don't let the autumn season pass you by.  Go outdoors and enjoy nature; after all, nature is God’s gift to us.

Note:  Hiking is a great way to exercise and if you choose to climb hillsides or go down steep terrain you will get a good cardiovascular workout.