Into the wild: A guide for nonhikers

Sunday , May 14, 2017 - 12:00 AM

By VALERIA PARRA
TX. Correspondent

"Bush walking" is the way Australians refer to trekking up into the outdoors. What a lovely phrase compared to the way most people say it in America — hiking.

Strolling through nature serves as a great method of amusement for people who are not quite fond of exercising as well as those who do enjoy engaging in physical activities. To be honest, not everyone likes to go to the gym every day and listen to sweaty people sighing and moaning while they pump iron. It is nice to be able to change things up and take a deep breath of the fresh, crisp air.

Hiking can involve a number of things ranging from incredible views to health benefits to the risk of injuries. On the positive side, exploring the wilderness can lower the risk of heart disease, and improve blood sugar and blood pressure levels. It can also boost bone density and build strength in your lower body.

"Research shows that hiking has a positive impact in combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety,” thus bettering your mood, according to Gregory A. Miller, president of the American Hiking Society.

However, before you hit the trails, it is important to consider some potential safety hazards.

While hiking, be aware of your surroundings and make sure you are well prepared. Search for materials like appropriate clothing and footwear so you do not slip every 20 seconds. Bring navigation tools such as compasses, maps or a GPS to help guide you in times of need.

Sun protection is also recommended, including sunscreen, hats and sunglasses so you do not appear as a peeling tomato the following day.

Another idea to consider is bringing snacks; this tip cannot be stressed enough. Once you are miles away from civilization with a feeling of shattered ankles, you will need some energy, and eating snacks is the way to go. It is crucial to be prepared to prevent certain mishaps and always remember: Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

Northern Utah boasts numerous hiking trails for all ages and skill levels.

One is Fernwood Trail, a path located in Layton near Adams Canyon. Surrounded by the usual greenery and the beautiful view, this trail is not to be underestimated. The hills are very steep and shoes suited for terrain are required.

Once you start to get higher, the wind picks up a bit and depending on the time of day, it may start to get chillier since there's a lot of shade. The trail takes at least three hours or more, unless you give up after two hours, like me!

Wildlife is also found in abundance on Fernwod Trail with a different variety of small creatures; at one point I encountered two small, frightening snakes and a lizard. It is also important to be aware of and respectful of animals' territories when hiking.

Another fun trail is Adams Canyon, also located in Layton, off Highway 89. When you arrive, there is a limited amount of parking spaces so the road leading to the trail is usually crammed with cars.

Starting out is a bit abrupt with the raised hill but after 10 minutes or so the path gets flat; then you are in for a treat filled with sore thighs. This hike is 5.2 miles and takes about two to three hours to complete. Again, if you are like me, a hike that should be three hours may take four days.

Adams Canyon tends to be more populated but do not let that stop you. There are also some zig-zagged switchbacks at the beginning when you first arrive. Halfway up the switchbacks there is a glorious bench for people to stop and take a rest. At the end of the hike, there is a lovely waterfall where you will have to get your feet wet to see the water. This hike is family friendly and a fun way to stay active.

Everything considered, hiking is always an awesome alternative to being indoors, and remember, you should not pack more than you can carry. Also, it’s OK to start with small, easy hikes and work up to more challenging ones.

Valeria Parra is a junior at Syracuse High School. Email her at valeriaparra65@yahoo.com.

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