Heavy Hiking Requirements


Photo by: photo submitted by maverick jacks

sophomore Maverick Jacks

All of the Do’s and Don’ts for a fun summer day hike.

More often than not, during the warmer months people tend to gravitate towards new hobbies, especially ones that involve the outdoors. This article will focus on one such activity; day hikes. The difference between a standard hike and a day hike is that a standard hike would involve you bringing along a tent, finding a campsite, and spending the night in a park or forest, whereas a day hike would involve you going home after your hike. “I like hiking because I can get away from everyday life,” said sophomore Mason Turner. 

Hiking is a popular hobby for many residents of Virginia because Virginia is intersected by so many famous trails like the Appalachian trail, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, Mount Vernon trail, and Bull Run trail. “I would recommend the W and OD trail or the Appalachian trail”,said sophomore Maverick Jacks. Virginia has a landscape perfect for hiking and our state’s trails are enjoyed by many hikers, whether they be professionals or simply hobbyists. “My favorite location that I hiked was the Philmont ranch in New Mexico because it was far from civilization and very remote which allowed for us to be immersed in the scenery and nature”,said Jacks. Going on hikes is a great way to enjoy spending time with your friends or family, and have a nice scenic picnic. 

Going on a hike requires a decent amount of preparation. Firstly you need to choose a place to hike. Some parks you could go to that are in the general area is the Great Falls Park, located in Fairfax County. This park is rated 4.8 stars on Google with over 9,000 reviews, and includes beautiful views of waterfalls, rushing rivers and forested valleys. “I like the outdoor and stress free aspect of hiking, it’s also nice to go out with some friends and just enjoy the time away from school and work,” said Jacks. 

Another location for a day hike is Lake Fairfax, also located in Fairfax County, which is rated 4.7 stars. This location has a wide lake teeming with wildlife. The lake is also a great place to fish or canoe. And if both of those places sound boring, do some research on your own! There are a lot of easily accessible locations in Virginia that are perfect for hiking. “My favorite part about hiking is being with my friends,” said Turner. 

Once you’ve got a location, route, and form of transportation settled, you’ll need to pack a bag to take hiking. The point of a day hike is to spend several hours on the trails, so you should bring plenty of water. Most experts recommend bringing at least two liters of water, depending on the difficulty of the trail, temperature, and experience of the individual hiker. 

My favorite part of hiking has to be the quietness and peacefulness of hiking in the woods,” said Jacks

You should also bring plenty of snacks like trail mixes, fruits, and chips; hiking burns a lot of calories. Experts also recommend you bring a full packed First Aid kit, complete with items capable of stabilizing a cut, strained bone, broken bone, or head injury; things happen out on the trail, and it’s always best to be prepared. You can also bring other items if you’d like, but remember to pack as light as you can, as adding too much weight will make your hike less enjoyable. 

When hiking you should remember to respect wildlife. If you encounter wildlife on the trail, try your best to avoid them.“I enjoy seeing wildlife on my hikes because it makes it feel like I really am in nature,” said Jacks.

If the wildlife is dangerous, for example a bear, a skunk, or a snake, back away slowly without turning your back to the animal, and find an alternative route. If you come across any trash on the trail, it would be best for you to pick it up. 

Keeping the trails clean helps everyone, especially the animals. And finally, if you come across someone who is injured on the trail, try your best to help them with your First Aid kit. If they are alone, try to contact emergency services or the park rangers. If they are with someone, return to the parks center and bring park rangers to the person’s location (rangers are trained for situations like these!).

Remember if you’re unsure about anything hiking related, check out the Boy Scouts of America website. They have plenty of information on proper hiking etiquette. Hiking is a great form of exercise and is a fun activity to do with friends and family. It gives you an opportunity to observe and photograph wildlife, take scenic pictures, and is a great way to improve mental health according to www.apa.org.