From the ocean side paths of Seal Bay Park to the panoramic goat trails of the Glacier, the
Comox Valley offers a wealth of terrain to individuals with all levels of hiking experience. Hiking is one of the best ways to get a breath of fresh air while improving your fitness and experiencing nature. Words can not begin to describe the sense of accomplishment and exhilaration you feel after scaling the side of a mountain.
Before you go running for the hills, here are a few tips to help you avoid injury and let you enjoy your experience:
First of all, let’s talk socks. A good pair of padded woolen socks will help to avoid blisters. If you are going for a long hike, pack some extra socks or take frequent breaks to air your feet. As for boots, a sturdy leather hiking boot is best. To prevent blisters or blackened toes, have a professional fit you into a boot that is a half size larger than your normal shoes. It’s a good idea to break them in around the neighbourhood before you set out on any lengthier hikes.
Backpacks are a great way to transport food and equipment. Proper use requires the adjustment of both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight of the pack across both shoulders. A waist belt can be added to help transfer a portion of the weight to the hips. When loading the pack, there should be an effort to place heavier objects closer to the body and lumpy or light articles further away. According to the British Columbia College of Chiropractors, the total weight of the backpack should not exceed 10-15% of the users body weight.
It is important to be properly hydrated during your hike. On an average day hike, you should drink between 2 and 3 liters of water. It is not advisable to rely on streams or creeks as a drinking source – you have no idea of the little beasties that may be within. Water is heavy, so rather than carrying it all with you, leave a water bottle in your vehicle for when you return.
PLAYING IT SAFE:
Before you leave the comfort of your home, there are a few things you should always do: leave an itinerary with a friend, ensure the hike can be completed in daylight, and check for local weather conditions. The two most important things, things you should never hike without, are a current map (or guide who knows the area well) and the “10 essential items.”
THE SURVIVAL KIT – “10 essential items” to take on your hike:
waterproof matches or lighter
first aid kit with moleskin
water & food
large orange plastic bag
compass & map
IF YOU ARE LOST:
If you get lost, whatever you do, stay on the trail and sit tight. Most authorities advise that problems arise when individuals stray from their path. Providing you left an itinerary with a friend, it is only a matter of time until help arrives. In case it rains or you are forced to stay the night, try to develop some form of shelter to avoid the weather. If you have a flare or signaling device save it for an opportune moment and try to use it in an area of clear visibility.
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about physical conditioning. If you expect to jump up off the couch and go climb the side of a mountain for a couple of hours, you’ll be sorry! It’s a good idea to start by walking around the neighbourhood. Start with a half an hour walk, then slowly increase the duration of your ventures. If you will be climbing lots of hills, practice climbing similar grades around your home. If you will be carrying a heavy pack, slowly start to increase the weight of your pack with your training. If you give yourself adequate time to train, you will enjoy your experience, remain injury free, and look forward to many more hiking adventures.
Before setting out on a road trip it is a smart idea to give your vehicle a tune up. Your body is no different. A spinal check-up with your Comox Chiropractor, Dr. Houlgrave, can help you to prevent injuries and enjoy an entire season of hiking in and around the Comox Valley. Happy trails to you!