Anytime the weather is good is a great time to enjoy day hikes. I love hiking and wish I could do more. For years my husband and I have taken annual camping trips that include daily hikes.
Hikes are a great way to relax and enjoy a little solitude or to share time with loved ones, family, and friends as a group activity. It's a perfect way to expose kids to the beauty of nature outside city life. It can also be a fine business activity. A few years back a potential client invited me to join her for a morning hike, instead of a morning coffee meeting.
Wherever you hike, you will invariably encounter other people who are also enjoying the same activity. If you abide by these few simple courtesies, your hikes will be pleasant, safe, and stress-free.
1. Hiking pace. Don't try to hike at your partner's pace. If your speeds don't match and you are on a well-defined clear trail, try splitting up for a while. Meet up at predetermined points along the way. This way you can hike at your own speed and enjoy the special solitude of hiking alone; and probably see more wildlife in the process.
2. Hiking with kids: As soon as children can walk well by themselves (around age 4 or 5 and certainly by 6 years old), head out on a short day hike to get a feel for your child's pace, level of interest, and endurance. You will also test your own patience and tolerance, not to mention your ability to carry your kid back to the car when that last half-mile is just a little too far. Younger kids are much less likely to continue and not complain when the going gets tough. Some kids don't see the point of suffering like most adults who are too embarrassed to complain. When many kids get tired, hot, wet, or miserable, they simply stop walking.
3. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Leave your electronic devices (phones, radios and music devices) at home. If you want to listen to something, listen to the sounds of the wilderness. Resist the temptation to catch up on your phone calls.
Be sensitive to how much noise you make, especially in a group. When you're outside, sound carries much more than you think. Keep your voice down and don't make unnecessary noise. Act as though you are in a library or watching a performance in a theatre.
And there's so much to hear. While there is a distinct lack of city noise such as traffic, honking horns, telephones, buzzers, beepers, car alarms, and (I hope) blaring music, there is no shortage of sound. Sounds of wind, water, birds, and other animals all add to the "music" of the wild. This is the most common reason people go into the woods, to enjoy the sounds of nature and the relative silence that ensues.
4. Stick to pre-arranged plans. If you are hiking with a partner or a group, don't go off alone without telling someone what you are doing and when you intend to rejoin the group. If you agreed to hike, picnic, or camp in a certain location, don't make a spur-of-the-moment decision to go off on your own. Your group could get worried or even frantic if you disappear. They could even get hurt or worse if they go looking for you in unfamiliar territory or in the dark.