Ever wonder how some of your friends or the people you follow on social media find such breathtaking vistas on hikes and outdoor trips? While it does take some practice, it’s easier than you think if you follow our guidance. As a child, I detested all the times my mother would say, “just ten more minutes of walking, I bet we can find a nicer spot”. Now I live by the ethos of going just a little further because I know that stunning secret spots await. I’ve found that the best pictures, snack breaks and sunsets happen amidst luscious landscapes that you work to find. Here are seven tips to make that effort a little bit easier, do you have any others?
Be willing to walk a little further – We all get tired and hungry, but the extra energy invested in exploring your surroundings will be rewarded with views. If you’re backpacking – drop your pack and then seek the perfect campsite. Once you’ve found, it you can scamper back to retrieve your pack.
Look for points of land extending into lakes or rivers – there are great views above open water and if you can get close enough, soaking tired hiker feet is a treat in itself. An additional benefit of locating yourself near water is ease of wayfinding; simply look out for rivers or lakes near where you started and you’ll be able to explore the names of peaks, valley and adventures around you.
Listen for water through thick vegetation and get to it – Not all scenic spots require sweeping views, some of the most magical spots I’ve found are wilderness sanctuaries made special by the solitude they offer. Imagine a grassy river bank enclosed by thick pines where you can take a skinny dip or quick nap. Sounds pretty nice, right? When enjoying the outdoors, it is always good practice to keep an ear out for sounds of water (survival) and animals (safety). Listening for water sounds around you also serves you when hiking in crowded areas and seeking some seclusion from other groups. While traveling through densely wooden areas, follow the sound of running water and find your way to it through an opening or deer path in the thicket of trees. Chances are you’ll pop out onto a serene river bank, perfect for a lunch break or relaxing water refill.
Look for shelves in the walls above valley floors – by definition, valleys are low areas surrounded by mountains or cliffs. To fully appreciate the expansiveness of these natural wonders, try to perch yourself on a large rock shelf that is at least 70ft higher than the valley floor.
Look for alcoves in the rocks or side of mountains – These protect you from wind and often have natural seating areas. In the event you’re surprised by sudden rain, these are also great break stops!
Walk to the highest point in the immediate area – This doesn’t mean that you have to climb to the top of every mountain to get a good view, but simply that you should aim to perch yourself on the highest points in the nearby vicinity. If you’ve ever had to spend a night in a tent on a windy ridge, you know that it is cold torture. However, for shorter stops like a lunchtime picnic, opt for high ridges and I promise your food will taste much better. Just make sure you have extra layers to stay cozy amidst ridge winds and cooler temperatures, and that all of your belongings are securely tied down so nothing flies away or falls beyond reach.
Know the timing of sunrise and sunset – thanks to the internet age, it takes 1 minute to research when the sun rises and sets. All prepared outdoor adventurers know this information because it can save your life and it indicates great times of day to spot wildlife. All skilled photographers also know this information because pictures taken at dusk and dawn are dramatic and often turn out the best. When planning your outdoor excursion, think about where the sun will rise or set so you can catch it in all its glory. When camping, be sure to consider the direction the sun sets and select a campsite away from any tall mountains that would prematurely block sun in the evening hours. This is a key strategy to maximize hours of daylight (aka warmth and visibility) reaching your group.
Happy exploring & enjoying! Share you vista pics with us via insta @honestlyfit !!
(All images by HonestlyFIT)