Hiking is one of the easiest ways to get outside and appreciate nature. It provides an opportunity to be physically active, explore your surroundings, and stimulate all of your senses. You see the colourful sights of lush green trees swaying in the wind against a backdrop of a clear blue sky and deep blue lake. You can hear the waves gently rippling up to the shore, birds singing in the background. You feel the toughness of a pine tree’s bark against your skin as you grasp onto it for support. You can smell the fresh air and scent of pine surrounding you. You tasted the bitter crunchiness of that bug that just flew into your mouth as you realize you forgot your bug spray.
As you’re taking in all of the sights, sounds, textures, scents, and tastes, you might think to yourself – I wonder what this would be like with some cannabis. After all, some people believe that with the right strain and dosage, cannabis can heighten your senses by activating your brain’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoid system and intensifying your perception of the stimuli around you – the sights, sounds, textures, scents, and tastes.
Add to that the fact that Sault Ste Marie and the surrounding Algoma Country have some of the most breathtaking hiking trails and scenic lookouts that Ontario has to offer (you can learn more about that here: https://www.northernontario.travel/algoma-country/10-hikes-to-enjoy-the-fall-colours-in-algoma-country , https://www.alltrails.com/canada/ontario/algoma-district , https://www.algomacountry.com/nature-outdoors/ ), and it’s no wonder that some folks are curious about combining their love for nature with their love for cannabis.
For your safety we do not condone consuming any intoxicating substances while performing strenuous physical activities like hiking, but if you do decide to consume cannabis while hiking, there are several things one should consider. There is nothing worse than experiencing negative side effects of cannabis in the middle of what is suppose to be an enjoyable and pleasant experience. Thankfully, with a little bit of research, it is possible to make an informed decision about how to choose the best type of cannabis for your adventure. Read on to learn more about four important things to consider when selecting the product that best suits your needs.
Sativa vs Indica
One of the first things to decide on before your adventure. The distinction between sativa and indica here attempts to distinguish between the different effects cannabis has on the mind and body, as opposed to attempting to distinguish a specific species or physical appearance of a plant. While not a perfect method, studies have shown there is some correlation between identifying cannabis as sativa or indica and its effects. Others propose to instead consider a strain’s terpene profile when looking for a specific effect. This approach uses both views in selecting the right strain, and terpenes will be discussed below.
When considering sativa or indica, it is helpful to think of it as a spectrum with sativa all the way on one end and indica all the way on the other end. Traditionally, sativa strains are seen as being more uplifting, mood-enhancing, cerebral, and preferable for social settings. On the other hand, indicas are traditionally known to be more sedating, calming, and preferable for sleep, stress, and pain relief. As you move along this spectrum, you go from pure sativa to sativa dominant, hybrid, indica dominant, and finally pure indica. Beginning your search by filtering out indicas would be a reasonable place to start. You don’t want to be sleepy or spaced out for your hike, you want to feel energized and focused to provide the best hiking experience. A pure sativa or sativa dominant strain will likely be your best bet for this activity. You could also go with a hybrid to get the best of both worlds without being overwhelmed by the indica effect, but try to avoid deviating further towards indica on the sativa-indica spectrum.
The next thing you want to consider is what kind of terpenes are in a particular strain. Terpenes are aromatic molecules that give plants their characteristic scents, from lavender to black pepper and much more. Some cannabis experts also believe that terpenes are responsible for the different effects different strains of cannabis have on your mind and body, though the scientific data remains inconclusive to date. It is for this reason that some suggest selecting your cannabis based only on terpenes, as opposed to the arbitrary classification of sativa vs indica. Since the jury is still out on what the best approach is, we will consider both. So far we have decided on a sativa or sativa-dominant strain (or a hybrid). From there we will look at sativa, sativa-dominant, and hybrid strains that have any specific terpenes we desire. For example, if you want to feel more focused and alert, you might look for a strain that has limonene (also found in lime, lemons, juniper) and/or pinene (also found in rosemary, pines, sage) in its terpene profile. If you want to feel more relaxed or calm, you might look for a strain that has linalool (lavender, cinnamon, flowers). For more information on terpenes, see our page What Are Terpenes (https://hellocannabis.ca/education/what-are-terpenes/)
THC & CBD Content
The ratio of cannabinoids is another important thing to consider when selecting the right strain. Generally speaking, the higher the THC percentage, the stronger the effects will be. It is also important to note that negative side effects such as anxiety and paranoia are more likely to occur with higher THC concentrations. If you are hiking in the woods, it probably would not be very enjoyable if you were paranoid about being stalked by an animal. You are also out in nature and want to have your wits about you in case of an emergency. For these reasons and more it’s wise to choose a strain that is low-to-medium potency (4% – 15% THC content roughly). If you are inexperienced with cannabis, it’s best to start with a low potency strain to minimize the chances of experiencing negative side effects. Selecting a strain that is high in CBD can also help to reduce any potential negative side effects by toning down some of the psychological effects of THC.
Type of Cannabis Product
The main forms of consuming cannabis are ingestion (edibles, beverages, oils, capsules, sprays), inhalation (dried flower, vape pens, extracts), and topical (creams, ointments). Things you will want to consider when making a choice include the duration of your hike, your experience and comfort level with cannabis, and the type of environment in which you will be consuming your cannabis. If you are going on a half-day or full-day hike, you may want to consider edibles as the effects will last longer. The downside is that they can have a stronger or weaker effect than expected depending on several factors, such as when your last meal was. Another thing to consider is that smoking dried cannabis raises a potential fire hazard in the right conditions. This is where a vape pen comes in handy. There is no smoke and no fire hazard. It is discrete if you wish to exercise some discretion. It lets you control your dosing in a way that allows you to achieve the desired effects without accidentally taking too much. The best approach is to start with 1 or 2 puffs, and wait 10-15 minutes to see how you feel before deciding whether or not you’d like to take more.
So there you have it. A quick guide to choosing the best cannabis product for your hiking experience. Summarized here again:
Step 1: Select from sativa-indica spectrum. Recommended: Sativa or sativa-dominant.
Step 2: Select from terpene profile. Recommended: Limonene, pinene, personal preference
Step 3: Select potency. Recommended: Low-to-moderate potency.
Step 4: Select type of product. Recommended: Vape pen.
Step 5. Enjoy.
Be sure to pack your bug spray, sunscreen, water, and don’t forget to break in those new hiking boots (https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/breaking-in-hiking-boots.html ). Once that’s all done, stop by your local Hello Cannabis store to find the right strain or you.