Top 5 the most important tips for starting hikers

Snacking on a hike

Carry small snacks and eat small amount every hour of walking to maintain your energy and concentration levels. High calorie foods equate to low weight but that doesn’t mean you should just eat sugar! Nuts and trail mix are good options. Bring your lunch with you on longer hikes and take in the scenery while you have a break.

And it’s always better to have a little too much food than not enough.

Experience the wildlife

Australia has lots of cute, cuddly and some unusual animals you will encounter while hiking. If you approach quietly you will be able to get close enough for a great photo but there is a limit so keep your distance and maybe pause for a moment and just take in the experience.

We also have some of the most dangerous creatures (e.g. snakes) so keep an eye out where you are putting your feet particularly on remote trails where snakes are common. Snakes aren’t out to get you but they do object to being trodden on and will let you know. I’ve been hiking for over 40 years and often hike in very remote areas so I regularly see snakes. Snakes are less common on busy trails as they find us a bit noisy but it doesn’t mean you won’t see them. Never try to handle snakes, just back away and let them move on.

Capture the moment

Remember the slide shows your grandparents used to show you as a kid? Now it’s your turn to thrill your family and friends with your wonderful images. Social media has a lot to answer for, mostly good. It’s also an opportunity to remember what you saw to keep you inspired for your next trip. Your mobile phone will usually take good photos and can also act as an emergency device. But be warned that your phone won’t always have a signal.

Take only pictures, leave only memories

You’re probably out in the bush to see all that nature has on offer but this doesn’t include the rubbish. There’s a saying in the hiking fraternity of pack it in/pack it out. You don’t want to see rubbish on the trail and neither does anyone else. Think about your impact on nature and try to minimise it. And this includes tissues that seem to be inadvertently discarded on a lot of urban tracks.

Finding your way

Do you need to carry and compass and a map? I’m going to be controversial here and say no. When you first start out you should choose trails that are well marked and easy to navigate. Learn navigation basics and build up your navigation skills as you go. Basic compass and map skills form part of this but there is also plenty to learn before you start using a compass and map.