The New River Gorge is a day-hiker’s paradise. And having lived here for the last twelve years, I’ve been able to see many special places within the crevices of these mountains, and best of all, they’re pretty easy to access.
Having several miles under my belt, I’ve learned what is most important to bring on a day hike. I know, I know, it’s just a day hike. Granted, the likelihood of an incident is slim, but things can happen – weather changes – curious bugs – pesky stumps – there’s no telling.
With that said, here are a few key items I’ve learned – the hard way – to always bring with me.
The Right Shoes
This is a hike, after all, and the right footwear is a critical component. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen day hikers ill-prepared wearing flip flops and even heels… yes, heels.
Trails, in any woods, are inherently uneven and are riddled with roots and rocks. Find a shoe with a meaty tread and proper toe coverage and ankle protection.
Food and Water
My own day hiking experiences have proven that things don’t always go as planned – the hike takes a little longer than expected, my map reading skills aren’t quite what I had thought and so on.
No matter how short the trip, I always take a fanny pack-style container full of water and an energy bar. It has truly made many-a-hike much more pleasant.
First Aid Kit
Now, I know what you’re thinking – it’s just a few hours. Well, anything can happen, and it can happen in the blink of an eye. I’m not suggesting carrying your entire medicine cabinet, but a few essentials are the sign of a well-prepared hiker.
I take a pocket knife, medical tape, a few band-aids, a little packet of antibiotic ointment and some type of pain reliever. It’s not much, but it’s enough to get you back to the car.
In the heat of summer, this may not be necessary. But I will tell you, the weather has changed for the worse on me – even in the summer. You’ve seen it. The clouds start to roll in, the wind begins to blow and then, the first sign – that one drop of rain hits you square on the head. All I’m recommending is a super light jacket, one you can ball up in a pocket and tuck away for that afternoon thunderstorm.
This little item isn’t just for mosquitoes. In these parts, I’ve found that gnats are far more pesky on the trail. They buzz around your head, you swat and you swat – inevitably one makes a b-line right into your eye. And it’s stuck there for the duration of your hike. This is exactly why I recommend bug repellent. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Now, these are my suggestions for a successful hike. If you have an item that your can’t live without or has proven it’s weight in gold on one of your hiking adventures, please share.