Pack light for a short hike

The bridge connecting Wake Forest's Smith Creek Greenway with Raleigh's Neuse River Trail.
The bridge connecting Wake Forest’s Smith Creek Greenway with Raleigh’s Neuse River Trail.

One reason you take a short hike: you don’t have time for a long one, which is especially true as we enter the hectic holiday season.

If you don’t have time for a long hike, you certainly don’t have time to deliberate over packing. For a short hike — an hour or less — you don’t need a big pack, anyway. Pass on the extra socks; you can live with cold or damp feet for 15 minutes. No need for a litany of layers; even if the temperature does drop, you can weather the difference for a few minutes. A big lunch? Eat when you get off the trail.

Grab the essentials, get out the door. Better yet, have the essentials packed and ready to go.

So what should you take?

  • Camera (all the better if you have a smartphone camera). Maybe you’re hiking with visiting friends and/or family. Maybe you’re hiking a new trail. A camera is small and, in the case of the smartphone camera, you’ll have it with you anyway. Take advantage of the digital format and click away.
  • Water. Always, always, take water. Even if you’re just hiking around the neighborhood, it’s good to stay in the habit of hiking with, and drinking water. Staying hydrated keeps one’s spirits up, which is especially important for folks who may not be accustomed to taking even a short hike.
  • Snack. And don’t confine yourself to nuts and berries. Take something you like, though don’t take a lot of it. Treat yourself.
  • A light shell (windbreaker) or sweater. OK, I’ll backtrack a bit: even on a short hike, if the weather changes — if a front moves through and the temperature unexpectedly drops — you might not be mortal danger with 15 minutes left in your hike, but why even be uncomfortable. A windbreaker tucked in your pack will help you retain your body heat and, at least in the short term, keep out moisture.
  • Hat and gloves. Last items, promise. You lose most of your body heat through the top of your head and through your extremities. If you feel a chill coming on throw on a cap and gloves.Keep the above handy in a small day pack. If a small hiking window develops, you’ll be ready to grab your escape pack and escape to — where?

    Glad you asked. During the holidays you can check our GetGoingNC list of recommendations for short hikes near you on the BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina Health and Wellness Blog. Here’s a rundown of the posts and when they will — or did — appear:

    So far:
    November 14: The Coast

    The Triangle

    December 1: Triad
    December 15: Charlotte
    December 29: Asheville

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