It's autumn, and you want to see the changing leaves so bad you can feel the hairs on the back of your neck tingling with excitement. Oh wait, that's a mosquito! Gaghh!
What's the matter? Not the outdoorsy type? We know how you feel. But chances are high you'll have to do tons of outdoor adventuring in your life, regardless of your appreciation for couches and heat.
Since you'd rather not end your next hike by plunging into a chasm, you might want to consider the following preventative measures...
1. Bring plenty of water
We know you hear this all the time, but we want you actually to listen this time: Without proper hydration you will die. Three days is the max you can likely go without water. If possible, get yourself a quality water storage device, like a Camelback, which are nice because they carry a lot of water, keep it cold, and can hold other important items (*see Tip #6).
2. Every hiking path is advanced
Most hiking paths have degree-of-difficulty designations, sort of like ski trails. But remember: In the hiking world, "beginner" trails are advanced, and always involve scaling at least one boulder; "intermediate" trails are for experts who carry ropes and wear helmets; and "advanced" trails are for mountain goats. Stick to "beginner" trails if you don't have hooves.
3. Stay on the trail
Even though the path might be challenging, it's safer to follow it, rather than subject yourself to the many perils of the wilderness. Once you deviate from the official trail, you could stumble upon on a snake, walk through a spiderweb, or step in doo-doo, all of which are terrifying, and one of which smells.
Also, if you go off-path, you'll disturb the fragile ecosystem with your Pumas, and possibly infuriate an actual puma.
4. No selfies
You look silly enough taking a selfie in front of other humans, but when you take a selfie in the woods, you're just a disgrace. Do you realize how pathetic that looks in the wild kingdom? You're like a bird-of-paradise doing a mating dance for nobody:
Also, you can die attempting to take a selfie at the edge of a cliff.
5. Wear the proper gear
First off, wear good shoes. Not your good shoes. We mean shoes that are good for hiking. There's nothing worse than uncomfortable feet when you've got a lot of walking to do.
Also, a hat, sunglasses and sunblock are always good ideas, especially in the summer, and wearing layers is smart if you think you'll need to adjust your body temperature.
6. Pack wisely
You don’t want too much stuff in your backpack, but you also don't want to forget the essentials: Food, matches, a flashlight, a whistle, a multi-tool/knife and a map will all come in handy if you get hopelessly lost in a gorge.
Oh, bring a compass, too, so you'll only be temporarily lost in a gorge.
7. Fear the dark
Much like Will Smith in "I Am Legend," you must complete your quest before sunset or fall victim to marauding zombies -- in your case, the "zombies" are raccoons, rummaging through your rucksack and eating that Table Talk pie you'd been saving.
8. Use your street skills
The woods are a bustling metropolis of animals, insects and vegetation. That's good news for city slickers, because it means your street savvy will find some sort of application here. Three examples...
You know how you avoid eye contact with weirdos and creeps? Do the same thing with snow leopards.
If someone runs past you at full speed, you should run, too.
Public urination may not get you on the sex offender list in the wilderness, but it could enrage a Bigfoot. Pee wisely.
9. Hike with friends
Walk with a group, but not a group of idiots. It's a delicate balance. You don't want to hike alone and get stuck like James Franco in "127 Hours," but you also don't want to get stuck with some yahoo who tries to leap over a crevasse in his flip-flops.