New Hikers Guidelines
Information for New Hikers
Hiking is an easy and enjoyable way to get exercise. However, if you do not exercise regularly or have a health-related condition it is important that you consult with a doctor before starting on a new exercise program such as hiking.
We have hikes almost every week. Go to our Events List to find out the hikes we have been doing. Occasionally we schedule a two or three-day backpack or a week long hiking vacation trip. Often, hikers that attend our hikes will meet others who hike at their level and organize their own hikes together.
Each hike is rated for difficulty. It's important for you to know what you are capable of before you select and attend a hike. This is easy if you have some experience going on our hikes. It may not be clear for people that are new to hiking, particularly hiking in New Hampshire's White Mountains. For new hikers or people who are not sure of their capabilities we suggest beginning with a half-day hike and using that experience to assess how they feel on and after the hike. New hikers can gradually increase the difficulty in length and altitude change on subsequent hikes. Most people who have been doing other exercise programs, like long walks in the hills, working out a gym [elliptical, weight training, etc.], biking and sports can start with the half-day hikes without much difficulty.
Our general policy regarding hiking with dogs is that we love dogs but we leave it up the hike leader to make the final decision! Please ask the hike leader as s/he may have an issue or the forest/park we are hiking in may not allow dogs. We require that all dogs be on a leash when other hikers approach our group and that they be in their owner's control at all times. We require that all dogs be well behaved. If the above two conditions are not met, we can exclude the dog from the hike.
Non-members are welcome on our hikes but you must become a Guest Member which is free. After doing a few hikes with us, we encourage you to become a Sustaining Member and supporting us financially. A Sustaining Membership has many benefits and we will be working with local businesses to provide our members discounts to outdoor stores, restaurants, and lodging.
Everyone who participates in our hikes is completely responsible for themselves - their health and their safety. In particular this means being healthy and fit enough, before the hike, to go on the particular hike without hurting themselves or slowing down others significantly. Each person is responsible for their own health and safety during the hike. Each person should carry all the medications that they might need during a hike. For example, someone that is allergic to bee stings must carry whatever medications might be necessary in case of multiple bee stings.
A few new hikers may have difficulty with even our easiest hikes. We ask new hikers to contact the hike leader beforehand so that the leader can be confident that the hike will be comfortable for the hiker. We want to make sure that every new hiker has a good experience from the beginning. Sometimes a new hiker will bite off more than they can chew at that time, thereby getting discouraged from future hikes. That's unfortunate because every reasonably healthy person can get in shape, in time, to do even our difficult hikes and enjoy them. Please contact us our Hike Committee Chair if you are unsure if you can a particular hike.
We do not have a formal instructional program for those new to hiking. The Appalachian Mountain Club [select Instruction/skills], at times, offers a course for beginners.
Below are some suggestions for getting in shape to hike in the mountains:
Go on long walks in your neighborhood. Use the odometer on your car, driving around your neighborhood to measure the distance of your walking routes. You should be able to walk 5 miles in 3 hours with a stop every half hour for water and rest. This will ensure that you can handle the distance component of a half-day hike. If your walks include some hills that's even better as most of our hikes include significant climbs. Even if you are used to hiking or walking on flat surfaces, remember that hikes in the mountains will entail climbing which can be more tiring.
Find a friend who wants to hike with you and go on some of the easy hikes from our past trips. The hikes are rated for difficulty so that you can pick out easy ones.
Go to a gym and tell the trainers what you want to accomplish (5 miles and 1000 feet of climbing). They should put you on a treadmill, stair-stepper or elliptical. They will gradually increase the workout until you get there - it won't take long.
During your personal training program it's important to pay attention to how you feel during and after a hike. It's not necessary to push yourself very hard to make progress. Hiking is supposed to be fun, including the part where you are gradually building up your strength and endurance. The hike itself should not make you very uncomfortable – rest often if needed. It's normal to feel tired after a hike. If you have difficulty sleeping that night or are very tired the next day then perhaps it was too difficult at that time. If so, then stay at that level or back off a bit until you feel comfortable with that difficulty level. Then gradually add some more difficulty.
Review our Events List to find hikes that may be of interest to you.
Go to What to Bring for a list of items to bring on a hike.
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