The great American North East. Cold, dreary and wet for three fourths of the year. Getting ourselves out of our beds and motivated to go outside gets difficult when the weather begs you to stay in, under the covers and warm. As the weekend rolls around we prepare ourselves both mentally and physically to head out into the great outdoors. We gather our backpacks off the floor, rustle through our closets in search of something warm, perhaps a fleece, we grab the printed maps off the table, fill our water bottles and rummage around our foyer for our shoes. As we step out, the crisp air hits our face and like a shot of adrenaline, wakes us and gets us ready for the day ahead. We hop in the car and head out, excited for our next weekend adventure.
During the week we mull over possible spots to travel to come weekend with a number of things to consider; who, what, where, when, why, and how.
🗣Who is going on our trip with us?
The greatest part of our travel journey is the ability to bring friends and family along with us to our destinations. This translates to us selecting locations/trails with a level of difficulty that allows the least experienced member of the group to feel confident in completing the hike without a worry of keeping up or have a difficult time covering the terrain. In my opinion it keeps everyone safe and happy.
🗣What should you bring with you?
Essentially, this depends on the weather and destination. If you’re traveling someplace sunny and warm, bring items that fit that climate such as bug spray, sunscreen, a hat, and lots of water. The same goes for colder climates. You do not want to be stuck outdoors without a warm pair of gloves, a hat or even tissues. Correction, especially tissues. Appropriate shoes should also be worn (this is where doing adequate research of the terrain beforehand comes in handy).
🗣Where are you going?
Are you strolling through flatlands or are you completing rock scrambles on a cliff? Research the place you are going to before you head out. Doing a little research will let you know what gear you need, food and water rations needed and the proper attire required. It is also crucial to know what flora and fauna could possibly be encountered on the hike. Be sure to learn if there is any poisonous wildlife and get familiar with what they look like. Being able to identify the nature that exists on your hike is key in keeping yourself out of danger.
🗣When are you going?
Most parks are open throughout the year for the public but, keep in mind what time of year you visit the parks. During the off season, and due to daylight savings the hours available to explore a park are reduced greatly as parks open from sunrise to sunset. This means that in the winter the sun sets significantly earlier and thus will require you to begin your day earlier in order to complete the trail or the distance you would like to complete before close. In the on season, parks will begin charging for the parking and as more people crawl out from hibernation, the lots and availability for parking is greatly reduced. Our solution: Head out early!
🗣Why should you tell someone where you are going?
Before heading out, we inform our family of the location we are visiting and inform them how far and how long our trails will be. This way if anything were to go wrong they will know where to start searching. We suggest leaving an itinerary in someones possession. For longer trails it is also a good idea to check in with the parks office, this way when closing time comes they have a record of you being at the trail. Should you not check out, the park will know that there is still someone out on their trail and could send assistance if needed.
🗣How are you navigating?
Bring a map. Most parks have online websites with free downloadable trail maps. Read it before heading out and mark the route you are planning to take. The key will tell you how long a trail is and it is a good indicator on how long it will take you to go from start to finish. Allow yourself enough time to complete the trail you have mapped out.
Are you driving? Google Maps has been a blessing for us. Honestly without the GPS we probably would still be upstate driving around trying to find Sterling Forest.
Ask yourself the above questions and I’m sure you will have everything you need to have an amazing adventure.
The most important tip of all!! Put that phone and camera down and actually take in the your surroundings. If you traveled with a group, immerse yourself in the conversations and enjoy the experience. It is nice to be able to see photos after you’ve left but the memories made and shared are even better.
Thank you for reading!
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Till Next Time!