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Friday, November 2, 2018

10 Tips for Preparing Your Child to Hike Their First Mountain!

Photo by Vasile Cotovanu (Flickr)

After months of prep, my girls and I are finally ready for a big adventure. We're planning our first mountain hike! We're all excited about reaching this milestone, but we've had to work really hard. I used these ten tips to prepare my girls to reach their first mountain summit successfully and happily.

Build Your Endurance

I know we can't just wake up one day and easily walk to the top of a mountain. Instead, we have to build endurance. We did that by walking every day until we successfully completed several day hikes. I now know that my girls are ready to persevere during our mountain hike.

Choose an Entertaining Trail

My girls typically get more enjoyment from hikes that feature lots of scenery. They want to enjoy the journey and see waterfalls, streams, and wildlife on the way to their destination. For this reason, I let them research possible mountain trails and choose the one that will be the most entertaining.

Dress in Layers

Temperatures can drop quickly as we reach higher altitudes, so we plan to dress in layers. With non-cotton layers close to our skin and water-resistant outer layers, we'll stay dry and warm. I also insist that my girls try on all of their hiking clothes before our adventure to make sure everything fits and feels comfortable.

Break in Your Hiking Shoes

We know that our hiking boots can make or break our mountain adventure. That's why we picked out shoes that feature sturdy soles and ankle support. Also, we wore them hiking several times to prevent blisters and other discomforts when we hit the mountain.

Pack Healthy, Nutritious Snacks

Hiking is hard work! To keep up our energy, we will pack trail mix, dried fruit, and granola. As a bonus, these snacks are easy to carry.

Carry Enough Water

Our bodies need about one liter of water for every two hours of hiking. My girls and I already use hydration packs, and we'll each carry flexible water bottles so we can stay hydrated throughout our adventure.

Take the Right Pack

During our day hikes, I make my girls carry a pack that's the right size for their body height. They only carry 10 percent of their body weight, and we evenly distribute those items so all of the weight's not at the top, bottom, or one of the sides. I also ensure that my girls each have food and protective gear in their bags in case we get separated.

Protect Yourself in Any Weather

Even though I check the weather forecast multiple times before each hike, I pack enough protection for any weather. It's especially common for the weather to change rapidly on a mountain, so my girls know that we'll pack water-repellent clothing, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, gloves, and a lightweight jacket for protection.

Stay Motivated

Hiking a mountain can be very different and harder than hiking a flat trail. My girls have built up their endurance, but I'll also bring several games and activities so my girls stay motivated to push through hard hills or rough terrain. We might look for different colors, identify bird calls, or practice walking like animals as we reach the summit and have fun.

Prepare for Anything

An unexpected storm, wrong turn, or medical event can affect the outcome of any hike, but it's especially important to be prepared while climbing a mountain. We picked out safety gear like a compass, map, whistle, and first aid kit, and I taught my girls how to use each item just in case.

Before my girls and I tackle our first mountain hike, we want to make sure we're prepared. So far, we've implemented these tips to ensure we remain happy as we succeed on our first mountain hiking adventure. What other training or preparation ideas do you suggest?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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