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Ten Tips for a Ten Mile Hike

Written by Mike Larson
    Thursday, 15 October 2020
Ten Tips for a Ten Mile Hike

As part of our annual HKE MKE event this past month, I had the opportunity to lead a Ten Mile Hike along the west and east bank of the Milwaukee River, throughout the Milwaukee River Greenway corridor and into 11 different county parks. We saw fall flowers in full bloom, leaves just starting to turn red, salmon anglers sharing the river with migrating waterfowl, and even a small herd of deer not 30 yards from the trail in Estabrook Park. It was an amazing hike, and I would invite you to try it for yourself sometime. Before you go, be prepared! I’m sharing our Ten Tips for a Ten Mile Hike that you can use for your next urban adventure.

  1. Bring a Pack: A small backpack will work just fine, but you’ll have a few things you'll need to bring with you for a successful hike, so having a good pack to store your gear is a good idea.
  2. Utility is Stylish: When choosing your pack and what to wear, focus on the utility of your gear over style. You may look smashing in that cute hat or skinny jeans, but if it isn’t going to be durable and comfortable on a long hike you should probably leave it at home.
  3. Wear Layers: Temperatures in the fall can fluctuate dramatically, even from morning to afternoon. As you get hiking you’ll warm up, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers. Make sure you leave plenty of empty space in your pack to store the extra layers as you take them off.
  4. Cotton Kills: This is what my friend Kim Forbeck, our Land Stewardship Manager, always says, and while I think the hyperbole of the statement is better suited for an arctic expedition than a hike through urban Milwaukee, she has a point. As you move you sweat and cotton will trap that moisture against your skin, which will eventually chill you and make you uncomfortable. Your base layer should instead be made of faster drying or moisture wicking material such as a synthetic or wool to help keep you warm and dry.IMG 8746
  5. Love your feet: I highly recommend hiking boots or sturdy shoes that are comfortable for the trek- preferably something water resistant. An old pair of sneakers will work fine if that’s what you’ve got. It’s tempting to go out and buy a brand new pair of hiking boots for your experience, but do not do that the night right before your hike. If you need a new pair, buy them in advance and wear them all week to break them in so they’re comfortable. 
  6. Stay Dry: You can go hiking rain or shine, so check the weather the morning of and come prepared if it will be wet. There is nothing that can make you more miserable on a hike than wet feet or a soaked jacket. Bring a raincoat and extra pair of socks if it looks like it’s going to rain, and do your best not to splash in puddles too much (see number 5!).
  7. Hydrate: It’s important to stay well hydrated when you hike, so I recommend bringing a durable water bottle or two so you can have plenty to drink. There may or may not be places to refill along the way, so research ahead of time to see what your options are.
  8. Snacks!: You’re going to get hungry and need to replace some calories, so bring snacks! I prefer snacks that are high in protein, so trail mix and/or granola bars will be in my pack. Dried fruit, an apple, jerky, or even a hard cheese can also work well. 
  9. Think Safety: Whenever you go on a trip or hike, it’s a good idea to let somebody else who is not on the hike with you know where you’re going and communicate with them when you’re safely home. Bring a first-aid kit in your pack and have somebody on standby as an extraction plan in case you encounter anything insurmountable.
  10. Be Healthy: Bring a mask! You’ll likely encounter other hikers along the way, and it’s common courtesy to simply slip a mask on your face before you pass by them on the trail. Sure, the odds of transmission in such a brief encounter are low, but it’s polite and I notice that a lot of people on the trail really appreciate it.

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All photos by Jennine Pufahl.

Mike Larson

Mike Larson

Mike is a happily married man living with his family in Milwaukee. As a young child he spent days playing along the banks of the Rock River, fostering a love for nature which eventually led him to study biology and pursue a career with the Urban Ecology Center. He enjoys connecting people with nature through his role as the Community Programs Manager. He hopes that the work he does can help make it possible for his two sons and other kids in Milwaukee to grow up with similar experiences to those he had as a child.

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