Hiking, a time to unwind the mind from technology, and urban life, into a world of nature, peace, and Zen.   While your mind relaxes, your body gets to work taking you on a new adventure, a new frontier, deep into the woods.  I enjoy the casual hike, all the way up to the challenging hike.  In one day, I have hiked over a peak climbing 4900 feet elevation, back down to the valley on the other side to enjoy a lake hidden away from civilization, only to turn around and climb the same 4900 feet elevation to return to the trailhead. and drive home sore from the experience and gratification of the accomplishment.  I have gone alone. However, I recommend when you are going on hikes such as these; you take a partner, bring emergency kit such as food, water, water tablets, first aid kit, an emergency beacon for sending out for help should you become stranded or in need of emergency support.   I use the ACR ResQLink shown here.  It’s very compact, light doesn’t take up a lot of space and can notify the SAR (Search and Rescue teams should you need their services. You can pick one up on Amazon for about $250.00 one-time fee with no monthly or annual subscription service. You do need to register your device, and there is a renewal, so they have the proper data on file.   There are alternative solutions with various price points; some require a monthly or annual fee.  I prefer this one myself. When hiking I recommend you keep tabs on your water intake as this is vital, so you do not dehydrate yourself.  Becoming dehydrated can cause challenges on your hike that will cause it to be less enjoyable and potentially hazardous.  For example, a dehydrated body can cause minor to extreme cramps or even, your muscles not to respond correctly to what you would like them to do.  There are so many other potential hazards that I suggest you maintain hydration.  Carrying energy bars is another good idea.  They provide the necessary energy and nutrients to your body needed for a rigorous hike such as this.  Check the weather conditions and keep track of your daylight when going on day hikes.  Many people under-pack when headed out on a day hike and not prepared should you lose daylight, become stranded and need to think about staying warm, finding shelter.   I’ll admit when I day-hike, I normally do not bring the proper clothing required to stay warm should I get stuck and cannot make it back to my car.   You can carry some matches in a small waterproof container and learn about some simple options in the forest that can be leveraged to start a fire and stay warm such as pitch.  You also need to think about the fact that you are entering the domain of non-domesticated animals.  They may/will be curious about your presence.  Many will stay away and avoid you however some may venture closer than you prefer.   If your traveling into bear country, I recommend adding bear spray to your pack and understand how to use it.   If you carry a pistol, do not expect a handgun to stop a bear attack.  Also for most people that carry guns, the hollowpoint ammo does not work well on wild animals as it does on humans. In some cases, it would not penetrate the animal.  You need to use full metal jacket ammo and only on animals other than bears would I consider using a pistol.  Hopefully, you never have to use your weapon, and you can enjoy all the wonders of the great outdoors and avoid the potential hazards.   Being a smart hiker is by staying on the trails, documenting your start stop, filling out the sheets available at some trailheads that give the authorities that manage and monitor the area information about you should you not return to your vehicle, is always the best process for being safe, and successful in this wonderful sport.  Bringing a dog can be fun for both the dog owner and the dog. However, it can also be dangerous.  Make sure your dog is well trained and obeys you explicitly if you do not have them on a leash.  I have heard of more unexpected encounters with wildlife for people that have dogs with them, than those that do not have dogs with them.  While a dog such as my German Shepard can bring a sense of safety and security to you, they can bring an element of unexpected danger should they act inappropriately.  Yes, a German Shepard can protect you, but at what cost.   Small dogs can be considered part of the menu when wild animals are hungry.  Keep them close and supervised.  I take my little guy with me, and since he was part of our lives longer than Ruger our German Shepard, he has been on quite a few hikes.  Since he is a young dog and full of energy, he can handle the crazy hikes we have gone on. Sometimes, though, they need help getting over, around or under objects.  They can dehydrate as well so do not forget to bring water for your fur-baby.  We have a packet for the German Shepard which allows him to carry some of his accessories himself.  Our little guy Ayden is only coming in at 15pounds and low to the ground, can’t carry very much.  So I encourage you to venture out to the great outdoors and all the wonders it has to offer.  The sites are fantastic; the journey is fulfilling, the disconnect from the inter-connected world allows for a reset.  I can’t begin to chronicle all the wonders and joys you will get by getting outdoors.   In the beginning, it can and will be challenging!  Don’t Give Up!!  Just keep going, Just do it, and the rewards will come flying in.  The photos here or other places online do not do justice to what the naked eye can see in person.