How to Choose the Best Hike

How to Choose the Best Hike

5 Tips to Help You Choose Wisely

Photo: Pinterest

How do you choose a hike? With so many places to go and trails to be hiked, what is the best way to decide where to go? When we decide to take a hike, one of us usually picks a hike and then sells it to the other. I will research a hike, check out what it has to offer. I’ll look for my favorite things such as waterfalls or something abandoned. I really like to visit somewhere something disastrous or dark has happened. I’m like Wednesday Addams if she wore hiking boots. I like to rate my hikes by the death, disaster or dismemberment factor. For example Jeffrey’s Hell ranks high as it has death and disaster-2 of the 3 on my scale.

On a recent hike on the Porter’s Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, my darling husband, knowing that I enjoy seeing something besides dirt and leaves, offered up a tidbit of useless knowledge and proclaimed that we were about to witness a great sight. Indeed it was a very rare sight. It was going to be such a rare thing to see that it would be the greatest hike of all times. (Anybody reading my sarcasm into this yet?)

Apparently, on the Porter’s Creek trail, you can witness one of the only two Cantilever Barns in the GSMNP. Yes I said it-a Cantilever Barn. He was so excited to proclaim that tidbit of useless knowledge that I almost fell out with hysterical laughter. A cantilever barn, also known as a BARN, is not on my list of things to hike miles to witness. Now, I’m sure there are barn afficianados out there who would think this was an exciting encounter. I am NOT one of those people. Unless of course it has some sort of dark history or has some major dramatic event, then let’s keep walking. However, all was not lost.

He was so excited!

As we approached the cantilever barn, there were two lurkers off in the bushes to the left. They just so happened to be friendly to hikers and very curious about what we were doing in their forest. I will admit that I violated the 25 feet rule and tried to get pretty close. Wildlife definitely trumps a cantilever barn. (Just how many times will I say cantilever barn?)

So the takeaway is just because it wasn’t my idea to search out something I thought was boring-a cantilever barn-didn’t mean that it wasn’t a worthy hike.We also discovered an old cemetery on the way back out. I think the Sheriff was so focused on the cantilever barn that he missed the part about there being a cemetery in the review. So it ended up on my death, disaster and dismemberment list after all. We also discovered an interesting sight in our pictures after the fact. Check him out below.

This picture was taken with the Sheriff’s phone. The first one is the original picture and the second is when you zoom in super close. He was only taking a picture of the small cemetery in Porter’s Creek but it looks as if something had spied us first.

You know this made my day to see this face turn up in our cemetery pictures. I’m just glad I didn’t see him at the time!

So since we have different interests and goals for hiking, how do we decide on where to hike then? There always has to be some give and take. But we depend on a few factors when deciding:

  1. The All Trails App. We depend heavily upon this app for locations, reviews and difficulty. I look at difficulty alot, as you might guess. The All Trails app rates hikes in three categories Easy, Moderate and Hard. We try to stay with the Moderate category. We have also learned that just because it says easy, doesn’t mean easy. Easy might mean short. Hard might mean there are a lot of rocky areas or creeks to cross, not always climbing.
  2. Time-We factor in our time. We are super busy most weekends so a lot of our hikes are during the week making time a factor. We may have to pick a shorter or easier hike based on how much time we have.
  3. Location-If we are vacationing, we always try to find time and a place to hike. We like to add different states to our list. During our recent trip to Chicago, we took two side trips to add Wisconsin and Indiana to our list of states.
  4. History-Yes this is a bit nerdy of us but we like places that have a backstory. We are all about the backstory. It’s a real treat it if our location has two or three backstories. I will jump on a hike if I think something creepy has happened or if there has been some major drama going on there.
  5. Stress levels-We both have high stress jobs so sometimes we pick (the Sheriff picks) a very hard hike to just burn some calories, blow off some steam and redirect our hearts and minds on something bigger and better than whatever we’ve let get under our skin. Sometimes it just feels good to breath fresh air and get some dirt on your boots.

So even though, I didn’t choose the hike to the cantilever barn, I did get to see some cute deer, visit a creepy cemetery and see a waterfall as a bonus. We burned off stress and calories. We got dirty, breathed fresh air and enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon in a National Park. What more could we ask for?

I’m sure everybody has mental list of things they like to see or do when they hike. I’d love to hear how you choose a hike. If you will click here and subscribe to my blog, I’ll send you a link to a list of some storied hikes we’ve taken. Fair warning though, no cantilever barns on this list. So sorry to disappoint.

the whiny hiker

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