Best advice for a noob hiker, new to her area, in terms of how to not die/how to find out where to go/anything else you'd advise a noob hiker on?
If I were you, I would:
Find a buddy. Almost everything is better in the outdoors with a partner, and it’s a lot safer, too. If you don’t have anyone to go out with, make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Stick to popular, well-frequented trailed until you figure out how things work for you. Once you’ve got a system down for hydration, nutrition, and you’ve figured out how you handle the terrain, you can upscale your adventures.
Research! Find out how long a hike is in terms of mileage, vertical gain, and time for an average hiker before going out. This will help you to learn how to gauge your ability to cover distance. Plus, you don’t want to start something that you can’t finish or be on the trail clueless as to how to proceed. Preparedness is key.
Pack more than you think you’ll need – water, food, and layers. Always plan to get stuck out there longer than you plan to be.
Invest in your feet. Good shoes (preferably with something like a Vibram sole) and good socks (e.g., SmartWool) will carry you further than muscle alone. You can be the fittest person in the world, but ill-fitting shoes or crappy socks can end your day after only a mile out.
Get a comfy pack with adjustable chest and hip or waist straps – these will help to distribute the weight better and keep your back from getting achey. If you can, grab one that comes with a bladder / Camelbak. If it doesn’t, invest in one of those to go with it.
Keep a journal about the hikes that you do and the specs: distance (vertical and horizontal), weather conditions, what you brought v. what you wish you had brought, what you ate (and when you ate it), and how you felt. I wish I had done this sooner. I’ve had a serious problem with hanger and bonking, and it took me until this summer to realize that I wasn’t eating nearly enough – turns out I need ~200 calories per hour of sustained activity. I was eating maybe half of that before.
Received My “NEW” used Chippewa Super Loggers I won on Ebay for $31.00 Man I love them! These are 25410 super loggers, Steel Toe, Waterproof and Insulated.. they also have the Tacoma Vibram soles! Think I’m going to load em up! :)