Have you ever wanted to hike through the 700 miles of trails in the gorgeous Glacier National Park in Montana? Or the wooded Smoky Mountains National Park, stretching from Tennessee to North Carolina? Maybe something local to Texas, like Lost Maples State Park filled with “lost” Big-tooth Maple trees that make it look like you’re in Vermont.
Hiking improves the strength and emotional state of your mind by getting outdoors. It relieves stress, helps you sleep better at night, and increases your energy levels. In addition to helping your emotional state of being, hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can lower your risk of heart disease, and boost bone density. It builds strength in your gluttes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs.
“A good friend of mine got me into hiking back in 2001. He invited me to go with him and his brothers, and that’s how I fell in love with hiking,” said my father Cody Furlong.
But before you hit the trails, choose the right one for your fitness level, and don’t forget to check the weather and tell someone where you will be. Be prepared by packing the essentials and wearing the right shoes and socks. Underestimating the trail, failing to prepare, hiking alone, and traveling off-trail can lead to serious hazards.
“My favorite place to go hiking is Lost Maples, it feels like you are in a different state because of the huge maple trees,” said Furlong.
Lost Maples State Park has 2,906 acres of hills and canyons blanketed with Uvalde Big-tooth Maple trees. It’s 30 campsites with water and electricity and several primitive campsites bring plenty of bird watching opportunities. Fishing is another activity in the park were you can can catch fish such as rainbow trout, bass, etc.
“I really enjoy being outside and I enjoy the solitude,” said Furlong. “I always say that I’m going to pack light, but I always end up stuffing as much as I can into my backpack. I always bring a tent, sleeping bag, flashlight, food, and water, although these are the bare minimum things I bring.”
When hiking, it is best to bring the lightest equipment possible, such as lightweight freeze dried food that turns back to normal when in contact with boiling water. There are such items as powdered eggs, fruits, and even freeze dried ice cream.
Furlong said, “I say to always go with someone experienced; and packing light is a must.”