Months ago, I decided that for my 30th birthday I wanted to spend the day hiking with my husband. I knew I wanted to do a loop hike with a decent elevation gain that would take several hours to complete. After a lot of research between the both of us, we decided on the Cumberland Trail - Pot Point Loop (listed on the AllTrails app at 11.2 miles with a 1,387 ft. elevation gain). That allowed us to stay in Dunlap, TN at the cutest Airbnb farm with the option to go to Chattanooga if it rained. The reviews of the trail on AllTrails showed that we might be hiking more than the 11.2 miles (with an average of 30 minute miles) so I decided to plan for 13 miles just in case. The full hike ended up being 12.7 miles with an average of 28:57 min/mile with a moving time of 6:07:40 and an elevation gain of 1,821 ft. We weren't in a hurry, stopped for lunch to enjoy the view and did end up getting off course a few times (never very far though). I recommend before you decide to go on a hike that you honestly evaluate yourself to make sure you have the proper physical, mental and outdoor skills as well as the right gear.
The list below is my recommendation of what to bring on a longer day hike. The food and water were specific to me, hiking 13 miles on a beautiful, sunny, 50-74 degree day in the mountains/hills. I based my water consumption off of 2 cups, or about 1/2 liter for every 1 hour of hiking. Hot or humid conditions, direct sunlight, high elevation gain, intense sweat rate and heavy pack weight are all factors that lead you to need more water, so you might do better with 4 cups or 1 liter an hour depending on the conditions. I tried to drink 1-2 big gulps every 15-20 minutes or so. As for my food, I had a large breakfast of 1/2 cup oatmeal with 1 cup almond milk, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 banana and 2 Tbsp flax seeds. I then packed to have about 200 calories or so every hour with a 400 calorie lunch. It looked something like this - fruit pack, Rxbar, gluten-free bread with tuna and some jelly beans, fruit pack, Rxbar. I also had an Epic Bison Cranberry Bar just in case, but I didn't eat it. When we got home we kept drinking water and then refueled with some chips and salsa, clam chowder and gluten-free pepperoni mushroom pizza. We also had some wine and dairy-free ice cream. That might sound a little more indulgent than necessary after the hike BUT it was for my birthday and those were the treats I wanted throughout the rest of the night :) Okay, on to hiking gear!
What to Bring on a Hike
(What I Wore)
It is better to be safe than sorry, so over packing is better than under packing. That goes for gear, food and water. I used the AllTrails app for the trail map and to record our route and it saved us from going off course a few times. I highly recommend using that! We also had the regular GPS just in case but the phone was great for what we were doing. I was thankful for having the cell phone bank to charge my phone on the go towards the end though! We drank almost all of our water, ate all of the food (except the Epic Bars), used the hand sanitizer, chapstick and binoculars and the rest was all for good measure! I was thankful we had everything with us just in case, but even more thankful we didn't have to use it. Josh ended up carrying the large first aid kit, binoculars and GPS and I packed a smaller kit and used the GPS on my phone. Other than that, we both had the same supplies in case we got split up (which we made sure wouldn't happen).
We also told a few people were we were going, what time we started and what time we expected to be back and signed the trailhead book with our names and start/end time - again, just in case! It is always important for at least one other person to know where you are going.
Err on the side of caution, be prepared, start earlier than you think you should, pack more than enough food, water and gear and most importantly, enjoy your wonderful hike!!!!!
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I am a food loving, activity seeking health coach who resides in Franklin, TN with my husband and two sweet dogs (Lola & Penny).
I believe everyone should eat balanced and not cut food groups if you don't medically need to. All foods can fit in a healthy diet. Unfortunately, I have to avoid gluten and also limit myself with dairy, so my goal is to provide healthy, gluten-free/dairy-free recipes so EVERYONE can enjoy all foods, even if you do have to cut out certain food groups. My recipes are encouraged for everyone to eat, not just for those with sensitivities/allergies! Most of my recipes can be easily converted by using real dairy and whole-wheat in place of my allergy-free substitutes.
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