Some people may think hiking to be a worthless, tiring activity but in reality, it’s all about rejuvenating yourself by enjoying the wild smell, bracing mountain air and most importantly, having that larger-than-life feeling when you look at the valley from the top. Though you can experience some of these, to some extent otherwise, you’ve got to hike if you really want to get up, close and personal with nature. Though hiking is an inexpensive, experience-rich and family-friendly activity for people from every walk of life, it pays to consider some safety tips, especially when you’re alone in the wilderness, far from your known territory. Here are seven extremely useful tips that would help you make your hiking experience a safe one.
1. Know the Trail
First of all, when you’ve decided to go on a hiking trip, you must evaluate and recognize the trail you’re going to hike. Consider the nature of the trail i.e. whether it’s a less-visited trail or a busy one. In case it’s the former, it may have some sort of hidden danger. Do some research on it, review trail guides and ask the locals to know more about the terrain, its difficulties and elevated gains to understand the hazards associated with it. Thoroughly study the weather forecast for any type of natural calamities that might happen on your way. Remember, nature is beautiful yet extremely unpredictable. So, knowing the trail thoroughly would be your best bet.
2. Gear Up
Hiking without proper gears is much like trying to find something in complete darkness. Only appropriate gears can help you stay safe in the unforeseen wilderness by mitigating the hazards. One should carry basic gears like hiking shoes, hiking clothes, back packs, hiking shoes gaiters according to different weather conditions. Apart from the basic gears, you should consider the following for adequate safety:
- Trail map
- First-aid kit
- Pocket knife
- Hiking waist pack
- Sleeping bag
- Cell phone
- Sleeping pad
- Rain protection
- Protective clothing
- Warm layers
3. Be Careful While Hiking
Staying alert and listening to the body is other two most important parts of a safe hiking trip. Watch for indications of heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke. Take immediate precautions if you feel experience a headache, lack of sweat, thirst etc. Watch your steps to avoid stepping on wild cacti and rock formations. Remember that you’re in the habitat of wild animals who may not like your presence at all. So, forget the silent game because hiking isn’t the proper place to be quiet. Normally, wild animals like to stay out of your way if they hear your coming. Still, if you’re threatened by an animal, make noises as louder as you can and try to scare it off. Move back slowly while watching it and most importantly, don’t run as that can provoke the animal for a chase. If you get lost in the wild, find shelter and stay put. Make your best to become visible and get heard.
4. Stock up Plenty of Food and Water
When it comes to safe hiking, nothing can rise above supplies like food and water. Supplies are something that help you move forward and save your life in critical situations. Take plenty of snack and water to avoid starving and dehydration. Keep adequate amount of energy bars to keep your energy level up throughout the hiking. You can also keep water pouches with ice to refresh them continually, thus beating the heat.
5. Unforeseeable Weather
Natural calamities can arrive unexpectedly and much quickly than you may think of. But with proper emergency plan in place, you can avoid the disaster and stay safe. In case of heavy rains with lightning and thunder, the safest place is in the woods instead of your tent that has metal poles, which may attract danger. Stay away from loose branches, dying or dead trees though, as they can be detrimental too. If the weather is absolutely hot or windy, don’t forget to pack appropriate clothing.
6. Always Hike in a Group
Sticking together in a group is one of the cardinal rules of safe hiking. It provides several benefits as well. For instance, if you get lost in the wild, you’ll have a better chance to be found by your buddies. Bringing a GPS device and whistling become very useful in this case as they will help others to track you down. At times, some of your group members may want to explore what’s there beyond the final point or a different part of the trail by moving ahead of the predefined route map, which is fine. But you should take smart decisions about it by keeping in mind the probable negative aspects.
7. Inform Your Plans to Someone
Most of the hikers who get lost in the wilderness probably would have made it to normal life if they informed someone about their itinerary. So, before starting your trip, you must let some folks about your journey in detail i.e. the exact place you’re going, approximate duration of your trip, your expected date of return and inform them about a specific timeframe after which they should start calling for help in case you haven’t contacted anyone in the meantime. Also, provide them with other associated information like type and color of your clothing, your backpack, make and model of your vehicle etc. These information can tremendously help if something goes wrong with you while hiking.
Hiking is absolutely refreshing, enjoyable, great for health and most importantly, helps to unearth the real you i.e. your inner strength, your own happiness etc. Remember that dangers were, are and will be always out there in the wild if you try to act over-smart or careless. But when you know these seven super useful tips for safe hiking, what’s stopping you? Pack your bags, explore the great outdoors and enjoy each and every moment of your hiking trip.