Must-knows on How to Stay Safe While Hiking
It’s not a surprise that the Pandemic forced quite a big number of us to turn to hiking and mountaineering. Stunning sceneries, endless thrills, and that feeling of being free in a cool, tranquil environment couldn’t have offered a perfect antidote for the boredom of staying indoors for weeks.
Yet, even as we adjust to the new norm and the lockdown gradually starts to ease up, having fun outdoors remains as popular as ever. Hikes are now a perfect excuse to break free and rush into the wilderness for moments of extreme and uninterrupted adventure.
Today, thousands upon thousands pay top dollars to escape away from the hectic apartment life for a few days in the wild. They get to flex their muscles, experience a little adrenaline pump, and clear away the anxiety that may have built up in their heads.
But this doesn’t mean hikes are all fun and risk-free!
No, they aren’t.
Stories of hikers disappearing in the wilderness without a trace aren’t entirely unheard of. Tales of rescuers having to swing to action and help are getting quite common, all because of unexpected emergencies in the wild.
In America alone, thousands of hikers suffer untold injuries and even fatalities in pursuit of their favorite outdoor activities. Some experience minor muscle sprains and strains, cuts, and bruises that they easily treat and continue with their adventure.
Some unfortunate few end up with serious hiking injuries that necessitate urgent and professional medical attention. Some come face to face with animal attacks, slip and fall into ravines, and more. And some, unfortunately, end up losing their lives.
That’s why experienced ranger and backcountry management specialists always warn thrill-seeking hikers to beware. Usually, they give tips on how to minimize the odds of encountering an emergency and stay safe while hiking.
Are you ready to trek smart and enjoy an injury-free hike?
Before you lace up your hiking boots, fasten the straps of your backpack, and hit the trail, there are a few hiking safety tips you’ve got to remember.
What to plan at home: Ahead of the trek
This one has to be the most important of all safe hiking tips you should adhere to. It starts right at home, days before you hit the road or even weeks ahead. It encompasses everything, from choosing the right outfit, picking a safe trail, and drawing up an itinerary to getting your body ready for the tough conditions out there.
Before you pack as per the weather in the place you are going to hike, make sure you condition your body ahead of the punishing conditions ahead. Start working out, perhaps even lift a few weights a week prior, and build up your endurance. Remember that accidents could occur as a result of having no endurance to withstand the tough terrain.
Your hiking outfit must tally with the general weather conditions of your area of interest. They must also fit comfortably on you, especially your choice of hiking boots. To ensure you stay safe on the big day, try to wear your hiking gear at home. That way, you will tell whether the shoes fit perfectly or they will cause blisters and sore spots.
Additionally, pick a trail that best suits you. This is best done with a topographic map or a hiking guidebook at hand and a proper understanding of the area’s weather forecast. If you expect a tough hike, make sure you have adequate fresh water and a couple of bottles of energy drink with you.
Perhaps the most important tip when prepping for a hike is to have your first-aid kit with you. The kit must be fully stocked and always within your reach. It will give you the confidence to hike courageously and get treatment in case the trip goes south.
But don’t forget to share your itinerary with someone outside of your entourage. Mark your starting point and time, your preferred trail and destination as well as your expected finishing time. If possible, share more details about the hike as well so that they can keep track of your journey and possibly tell if your outing ends safely.
Ring a Park Ranger
You are going on a hike in an entirely new environment. It’s perhaps a park you’ve never visited before, or maybe a thick jungle your friend has hiked before.
On the recommendations contained on the web or on Facebook, take them with a pinch of salt. Don’t trust what your friends recommend either. You should instead call a local park ranger and ask what best works for you.
Park rangers and professional hike guides are probably the best individuals to rely on when it comes to safe hikes. They will forewarn you about the potential pitfalls along the way, where you should watch out and if the trail is safe to use.
Don’t forget to ask them whether the hiking trail is dangerous and has anything worth worrying about. You can get their phone numbers from the official National Park Service (NPS) website or via referrals.
On the trail
Once the big day arrives and you finally embark on your long-awaited hike, take your safety seriously. Protect yourself while hiking by adhering to safe hiking practices.
- Dress in layers, but don’t wear any cotton outfit.
- Pick a pair of hiking boots that fit snugly and aren’t too heavy on your feet. Of course, you should be dead sure that they are comfortable and perfect.
- Pay attention to the terrain and the area around it. Falling trees, rocks, and small stones along the way can also result in injuries.
- Hike as a group. This helps keep everyone safe and better placed to get help in case of an accident.
- Don’t forget to carry a whistle, a bottle of water, and energy cookies.
- Your backpack should be light and comfortable on your back.
The second half of the trek is usually the most dangerous
The last stages of a hiking expedition usually are when accidents are most likely to happen. Essentially, injuries are more likely to occur after you’ve hiked for hours, and you are slowly feeling the weight of your backpack.
To avoid slips, trips, and falls, don’t rush or hasten your strides. Accept that your legs are weary and you are running out of energy. Take your precious time to finish the hike – after all, you’ve braved it all and won!
Lastly, stay organized throughout
Whether you are hiking alone or as a group, don’t ignore the essence of trekking in an organized manner. Walk on a single file, but with your masks on so that you keep an eye on each one of you. When you decide to rest and replenish or marvel at the scenery, do it as a group.
Most importantly, have a leader to command the entire trip. It should be a determined hiker who has the attitude to lead, crack jokes, and encourage others to keep on trekking. Don’t forget to stay calm and take each mile comfortably without rushing. Enjoy your adventure!