Hiking is one of the most versatile forms of exercise – it’s inexpensive, appropriate for all ages and fitness levels, and the change in scenery means it’s never boring. Hiking can even relieve stress.
“I find a great deal of relaxation and mental cleansing from spending a day in the woods,” said Gary Borek, founder of the Buffalo Hiking Club.
“For most of my hikes, we are out to enjoy the experience of being in the woods and the relaxation and mental cleansing that derives from those experiences. We stop as we go, catch our breaths, and enjoy the surroundings.”
Gary’s club has already grown to more than 260 members since it was established in May of this year. Members range in age from 21 to 70, and the group includes both beginners and experienced hikers.
Families Are Welcome“I’ve seen young children climbing peaks in the Adirondacks with parents, so as long as a parent knows that a hike is appropriate for their child, they are welcome,” said Borek.
Toddlers can also be carried in a child carrier backpack.
Some off-trail or faster hikes are not appropriate for children without hiking experience.
Short Hikes are Available for BeginnersThe Buffalo Hiking Club offers both nature appreciative hikes (slower hikes at 1 to 2 miles per hour average plus breaks) and exercise hikes (faster hikes of 2 to 4 miles per hour).
For beginners, Borek recommends shorter hikes and those with split points in the middle that allow you to do just one portion of the hike, such as the Poverty Hill Hike.
If a hike has two entry points, such as the Lonto Hollow Ridge Bushwack Hike, Borek can park your vehicle at one of the end hike and shuttle you back to the beginning so that you can end your hike at the second entry point.
Hikes are Taken at Your Pace“We hike as slow as necessary for all participants,” said Borek. “Even on an exercise hike, if a participant has overestimated their capability, the leader will maintain a slow enough pace to accommodate them.”
Over time, you’ll increase your ability to walk longer distances while carrying the necessary equipment. However, the group’s primarily focus is about enjoying the outdoors, not logging miles.
“I’ve been hiking and backpacking for 40 years from Alaska to the Adirondacks. I have taken thousands of pictures on my trips but none of those pictures are of the amount of time I hiked or the miles I covered. What I enjoy when in the woods is not related to either how fast or how far I’ve gone.”
No Special Equipment is NeededSpecial clothing or equipment is not required; however, you must dress in clothes that won’t endanger your safety – no sandals or flip-flops – and bring at least one liter of water.
“You don’t need to spend a lot of money to be appropriately dressed for summer or winter hiking and everything in between,” said Borek.
Although Borek has collected high-tech outdoor clothing during his 40 years of hiking, he has also worn clothing from thrift stores, Wal-mart and JCPenney.
Polyester and Wool are the Best Clothing ChoicesPolyester and wool are the best choices for outdoor clothing in all four seasons, Borek said.
In the winter, beginners often make the mistake of wearing cotton, which soaks up water, increasing the risk of hypothermia and is heavy when wet.
“The outdoor community has a saying that ‘cotton kills,’” said Borek.
“In winter, I dress in layers to control body temperature and perspiration, and I always carry a dry set of clothing to avoid hypothermia risk, should my clothing be wet from perspiration, precipitation, or an unexpected slip or fall in a creek or wet snow.”
Ready to Hit the Trails? Learn More about the Buffalo Hiking GroupThe Buffalo Hiking Group is hosted on MeetUp.com, a site for local groups and organizations. To learn more about the Buffalo Hiking Group, click here to visit their MeetUp site.
Borek has posted guides for first time hikers in the discussion board section of the meetup group (Click here to visit the discussion board).