Several years ago, the owner of another forum I am active on wrote his "7 Habits for Happy Hiking" - I have these posted in several places for constant reminders, so with all credit to "Neil", here they are:
“7 Steps to Highly Rewarding Hiking”.
1. Know your route.
Whatever means of navigating you use (software, compass etc.) make sure you have studied and researched your route. Guide books, old trip reports, specific requests for beta from other hikers, tracklogs, whatever information may exist, you may as well profit from it. Then, whether it means writing bearings on a piece of tape on the back of a compass or entering a route into a gps (or both!) or printing a description make sure you do it.
2. Watch your nutritional status.
I never used to worry about this but getting older (49) has made me aware of the benefits.
It starts (at least) the day before and for me means simply loading up on carbs and drinking lots of water. If you haven’t been active for a few days prior to the hike your muscles may already be full of glycogen (rocket fuel) and so the importance of eating is a little less.
On the morning of the hike eat well, in the car on the way to the trailhead nibble and drink.
While on the trail eat and drink often and plenty. I often find myself not wanting to eat even if hungry so I carry all kinds of different stuff and try to vary my food supply from hike to hike.
3. Stay in shape
If you're like me and can't hike as often as you'd like to then do something to stay in shape between hikes. There's nothing worse than suffering because your out of shape.
4. Bite off a little more than you think you can chew (but not too much!).
Some may disagree with me here but some of my best memories are from hikes that I wasn't sure about being able to successfully complete. (I had potential bailouts)
5. Start real early
For the big trips you can't beat a pre-dawn start. You never know when you'll need those hours. Personally, I prefer taking my headlamp off versus putting it on.
6. Never underestimate a mountain.
Approach every hike with the same respect.
7. Choose your partners wisely.
The only thing worse than standing around in the cold waiting is to be constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to keep up with the others.