So you’ve decided to go hiking and experience the beautiful sights, sounds, and smells of nature. But have you thought about hiking safety and what you should do to keep yourself in tip-top shape on the trail?
Easy hiking safety tips to keep you trekking at your best:
Check the weather forecast
It seems like checking the weather before a hike should be a given, but it is of utmost importance to ensure a safe hike.
Check your local radar provider for any impending storms, and if you are going on a longer or thru-hike, listen to what other hikers have to say about the situation.
In order to properly plan for your hike, you should plan out your exact route, apply for any necessary passes and permits, and pack your bag according to your needs. Leave no stone unturned.
Share Your Plans
Before you head out on your hike, you should tell someone in your inner circle where you are starting, your general route, and roughly the time you plan on being back. Stick to your schedule, or, if for some reason it changes, alert your point person immediately.
In the worst case scenario where something happens to you, you want to make it as easy as possible for you to be found.
On a day hike, it is important to stay hydrated and bring at least 2-3 quarts of water per person. However, if you know that you will need a refill while on the trail, it’s good to have a purification system handy to ward of sickness through contamination.
- Bears – Contact with humans usually stresses bears out, so the best way to deal with them is to make them aware of your presence. Make noise, blow your whistle, talk loud, and they will probably flee. Once they realize you are a human and not a prey animal, they will have no use for you. Click here for more information on what to do when you encounter a bear.
- Cougars – If you encounter a cougar, make yourself as big as possible and maintain eye contact with them. They are more likely to attack when they know their prey isn’t looking. If there are small children with you, pick them up.
- Snakes – Most times, snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them. However, be conscious of their possible presence before you move any rocks, or step over any fallen trees. Snakes like to find cool, shady locations to hang out.
- Bugs – Always stock yourself with bug spray, and try to stay away from wet, grassy areas whenever possible.
Bring trail maps and guidebooks
Do some research on your chosen trail and study up about its twists and turns. Additionally, always bring a trail map with you, and mark off your position as you go along. Don’t stray from the trail unless you’re an experienced hiker.
If possible, invest in a GPS.
Experience & Difficulty
Hike only to your ability. Check what other hikers have said about your selected route beforehand and ensure that you won’t overextend yourself. If you are a beginner, start on some known easy trails and work your way up to more complicated routes.
If you are hiking in a group, hike the same speed as the slowest person in your group.
Bring a Whistle
In case something were to happen to you on the trail, it is good to have a whistle on your person. Not only will it make it easier for search teams to find you, it will also scare away wildlife.
Never hike without at least a basic first aid kit. You never know what kinds of minor injuries will present themselves out on the trail.
When choosing clothing for a hike, dress for all circumstances. It’s best to start out with a few layers and shed them as needed. Always bring a water-resistant jacket or garbage bag with you in case it rains.