Backpacking in the wilderness can be some of the most exhilarating and satisfying experiences of your life. A sense of wonder and curiosity, combined with heightened senses and just a hint of danger make it a habit worth getting addicted to. Nothing can replicate the satisfaction of being in the wilderness over an extended period of time, leaving the trappings of civilization behind.
There are many factors that can determine whether the trip will be memorable or miserable. Planning is essential. I have been backpacking for over 36 years, rarely going to the same destination twice, and have learned a few valuable tips and tricks to help make your trip a positive one.
Step 1: Awareness of Hazards
Read all signs at trailheads to learn about fire, lightning, bear activity, etc. Understand the distances you are covering and become familiar with your map. At all junctions, read the signs carefully and make sure everyone is together making the correct turns.
Step 2: Socks
Using two layers of socks can substantially reduce your chances of getting blisters. A thin polypropylene underlayer, with a wool blend on top will be very comfortable. If you sense a "hot spot" of rubbing after a while, immediately put a piece of moleskin over the spot to absorb the rubbing and keep your feet happy.
Step 3: Boots
Clean, condition, and waterproof your boots. This will help them last longer and keep your feet dry. You can clean dust off your boots with a damp rag.
Step 4: Warm Your Clothes At Night
Many mountain mornings can be cool, even in the summer. Consider putting your next day's clothes in the bottom of your sleeping bag at night so they will be toasty warm when you put them on in the morning.
Step 5: Camp Footwear
It's great to get out of you heavy hiking boots once you get to your camp spot. You will also want to spend time there and not always be on the go. An old pair of sandals or Teva's are great to wear around camp for swimming and lounging. Your feet will love you!