Hiking & Backpacking, by GSU

As the Wild Foundation defines it, Wilderness areas are “the most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.” A place that is mostly biologically intact and is legally protected so that it remains wild.

In the U.S.A. there are 109,478,939 acres (443,045.55 Km2) of wilderness areas and 59 National Parks that offer thousands of miles of well-maintained hiking trails, inviting campgrounds, native wildlife, and breathtaking views. Sometimes, especially if we live in a large metropolitan area, we forget that these amazing intact and preserved natural areas exist and are so accessible to us. Hiking and backpacking are great outdoor activities that help us to appreciate our environment while getting a good workout. However, it is very important to have the right gear, clothing, food and water, and to always respect the rules and regulations of the park you are visiting.

While hiking, your five senses will activate and you will connect with Nature with both mind and body. The refreshing fragrances of pine needles, wild grasses, and spring flowers will welcome you to the trail head. Once you get going, the cool pure breeze touching your face and going through your clothes will energize you. Don’t forget to  look up at the powerful open blue sky and pause to enjoy the stunning canyon views offered at each vista point. While you stop for a quick break, the songs of the sparrows and the whistle of the blowing wind passing through the tall ponderosa pines will surround you. Your heart rate is up and you are away from everything. Your legs feel toned and strong, your lungs are clean and open, your endorphins are pumped up, and your mind is clear and positive… anxious to reach the summit…

These outdoor adventures are mentally and physically rewarding and provide a priceless feeling of freedom. Furthermore, while you hike through these trails and spend some nights in the open, you will learn about the flora and fauna of the area you are visiting. You will encounter different rock formations, native vegetation and many types of animals. You will also notice the changes in temperature and landscape patterns as your elevation increases.

Do you feel like going for a walk yet? Wait! Whether you are visiting your closest recreational area for a brisk walk with your dog before going to work, hiking the Big Trees Trail in the Sequoia National Park (CA), or backpacking among the Saguaros in the Tonto National Forest (AZ), make sure you have learned all you need to know (best clothing to wear and foods to pack, basic gear, park rules, and essential hygiene and emergency kits) in order to be safe and prepared at all times and always respect and help to preserve these pristine natural areas.