by Joanna Wozniak-Brown
Sometimes, taking a hike on your own can be intimidating and yet, taking a walk in the woods might be exactly what you need. Here are some ways to make sure that the only things on your mind are the crunch of the leaves under foot, the fresh air, and the adventures ahead.
1) Let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back. Even if it's somewhere you go all of the time, let a family member or friend know your plan.
2) Get comfortable with your plan before you go. Think about your time limitations and fitness levels and match your hike to these parameters. Print a copy of the map to bring with you to be able to check it as you go. Feel free to bring a pen or pencil to mark any turns you take. You could even join a group hike at the location before trying it on your own.
2) Carry the safety gear that makes you feel comfortable. There are a lot of options out there nowadays. GPS tracking devices like the Spot Satellite Messenger allows friends or family to track your progress. Water and food should always be a part of your gear.
3) Follow CT DEEP's "Be Bear Aware" tips. You can also carry bear mace, which goes farther than regular mace, and a noise-making device like a bell on your backpack.
4) Wear appropriate clothing. Layers are the best method at regulating your body temperature while your hiking. You might not think you need any warmer layers but they will come in handy if you get stuck somewhere or your other layers get wet.
5) Limit your distractions. Wearing headphones or earbuds can be a big distraction while out in the woods. You may not hear mountain bikers, animals, or falling limbs.
6) Have fun! Hiking is a wonderful experience, challenging you physically and mentally. Just prepare thoughtfully and get out there!