Whether you are going on your first hike, or you are a seasoned mountaineer, there are some rules you must follow to make sure your hike is as safe as it is enjoyable.
Without the right preparation and planning, and taking into consideration the surroundings you will be hiking through, you risk turning a pleasant and perhaps exhilarating hike into an emergency. When you need help on the trail, others will have to risk themselves to assist you; you owe it to them and yourself to take hiking safety seriously.
Here are five hiking safety tips that everyone should know, from beginners to the experts, to help keep themselves and others safe on the trails.
Get the Right Gear
Too many people approach hiking with lots of gear, but no idea. Lots of equipment may make you feel prepared for anything, but will give you a lot to carry on your hike.
Start planning from the ground up with the most important equipment of all, your hiking boots. You need to choose a comfortable, yet sturdy, boot wisely. Look for more ankle support to help you work through inclines and prevent you from twisting your ankle too easily.
Choose the Right Challenge
Whether you’re on your first hike or you have been hiking regularly for years, you need to choose a challenge that suits your skill level, season, and time frame.
You should set criteria for your hike and choose a few to research, that way you will have some information about other trails for later hikes. Make sure you consider the weather and temperature for the time of year you are hiking, and what animals and wildlife you may encounter on the trail.
Plan Ahead, Map Your Route
Basic map skills are essential for a successful hike. No matter how well sign posted you think a trail is, you should be able to find your location on a map at any time, especially if weather or circumstances change.
A compass and a map of your location are two things you should always have with you, as well as the knowledge of how to use them. Many trails and hikes have printed guides or reviews and guides online that you should consider taking with you to help identify landmarks and points of interest.
Do the Right Preparation Work
Up until the moment your hike begins, you should be checking local weather reports. Bad weather is the worst time to hike, and you shouldn’t begin if rain or storms are forecasted.
You should check with any local park authority or ranger service for advice to follow while out on a trail, and give them information about when and where you are planning to hike. Some park services will give you the option of calling on your return to ‘check in’, and will send out a search party if they don’t hear from you.
Prepare Your Body
If you are planning on hiking, you will want to get in reasonably good shape before you start your first proper hike; a mountainside is not the gym. People often cause themselves injuries in remote places by not preparing their body for a hike.
A good hike can involve several hours of continuous, strenuous exercise with only a few breaks for water and sightseeing. The heat or cold can also challenge an unfit hiker, so make sure you have exercised closer to home before you step out into the great outdoors.
Hiking can be a lot of fun, and the rewards that come from finishing a hike and seeing some of nature’s awesome beauty can be extremely satisfying. With the right planning and preparation anyone can enjoy a hike safely no matter what their skill level.