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How to Prepare For an Early Morning Hike

While a hike is a good way to commune with nature at any time of the day or night, there is something really magical about watching the sun come up after a vigorous walk in the woods. However, this type of experience doesn't just happen. It requires careful planning beforehand or it could turn into a disaster. Here are some preparation tips so you'll be ready to greet the dawn with confidence.

1. Plan a Quick Breakfast

The sun waits for no one, so rather than driving around wondering, "where can I find breakfast near me at this hour?" prepare something to eat the night before. You may not be hungry before you leave, but you will be on the trail, so choose something that you can take with you and eat during the hike. Be sure to take proper care of your trash afterward.

2. Think Safety

Sharing your sunrise hike with a friend may not only be more fun, but it is also a good safety precaution in case something should go wrong. If it is not possible to hike with someone else or you really want to go by yourself, at least be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back before you set out.

3. Find Proper Illumination

At least a portion of your hike will take place with only the light of the moon and stars. While romantic, this is not enough to see where you are going. To avoid tripping over obstacles in your path because of the dark, bring something with which to light your way, a flashlight or a headlamp or whatever will work. Change the batteries before you go and bring extras with you. It never hurts to prepare for anything.

4. Check the Weather Report

Know what the weather is likely to do before you head out and plan accordingly. Generally speaking, you can expect cooler temperatures before the sun comes up. Since portions of your hike will take place both before and after sunrise, dress in layers so that you are protected from the cool and damp by warm clothing that you can remove as the weather warms up.

5. Scout the Location Beforehand

The morning of your sunrise hike should not be your first time out on the trail. You should trace the route beforehand to time how long the hike will take and familiarize yourself with the terrain.

6. Prepare Everything Beforehand

Pack everything that you are going to take with you on your hike, including illumination and breakfast, and have it ready the night before so that you can pick up and go as soon as possible in the morning. Decide what you are going to wear and lay this out too.

7. Get Plenty of Sleep

This may go without saying, but you want to be well rested on your hike. If you are getting up earlier than usual to see the sunrise, it stands to reason that you also need to go to bed earlier the night before. Be sure that you budget enough time so that you can take care of all your preparations the night before and still have time to get to bed early.

8. Keep Hydrated

Even if you are not going to be exposed to direct sunlight or hot temperatures during your hike, it is still important to make sure you drink enough water. You will lose some due to the exertion, and dehydration can have serious negative health effects. It is not worth the risk. Be sure you bring along some drinking water. You may also want to plan strategic breaks to have a sip.

Witnessing the sunrise on your hike can be a rapturous experience. You do not want anything to disrupt it or distract from it. Taking the time to plan and prepare beforehand leaves you unencumbered and able to concentrate entirely on the moment.

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