Hiking is fun and good exercise. You get to leave the stresses of city life and rejuvenate your spirit in nature. However, there are potential hazards on the trail and the unexpected can happen.
Here are a few commonsense tips to help you prepare for any incident and make your hiking experience more enjoyable.
First Aid Kit
For non-critical emergencies while you are outdoors, carry a first aid kit that includes medicines or supplies for such things as bee stains, poison ivy, scratches, scrapes or even headaches. If you have medications for a medical condition, be sure to bring those along too.
Food & Drink
When you are out on the hiking trail, there may not be a place to purchase food or water for miles. Consider packing a small meal or snack to take along. Energy bars can help you sustain your fuel needs without feeling full. Take along enough bottled water to prevent dehydration.
Map & Compass
A map and a compass are essential while you are on your hike to ensure you know where you are going and do not get lost. Study the map before you make your journey. Find the answers to any questions you might have about where you are going. Know where the rest stops or restrooms are, locations for food and water, and emergency or medical help.
Flashlight, Pepper Spray, Cellular Phone & Radio
You might need a flashlight if it gets dark where you are hiking. A cellular phone is critical if you are in the middle of nowhere and you have an emergency. Make sure it’s fully charged, and if possible, have back up batteries. A radio will keep you informed of weather condition or the news. Some national parks have emergency radio stations you can tune into critical park information. Carry pepper spray in case you need to use it in a self-defense situation. A Swiss Army knife is a practical tool you might find useful. Do not forget to bring your watch so you’ll know what time it is.
Clothing & Shoes
Wear what is appropriate for the weather. It’s good to wear clothing in layers. When it gets too warm, you can take off a layer until you feel comfortable. Wear good hiking boots to keep your feet protected and to be able to walk uneven terrain. The socks you wear should be cushiony enough to prevent blisters. Extra pairs of sock are a good idea.
Tell Family & Friends about Your Trip
Make sure a responsible family member or friend knows the details about your hiking trip. Tell them where you are going and when you should be back. Give them the number for the cellular phone you will bring with you on your hike. Work out a plan with them in case the unthinkable happens.
Easy does it. Try to enjoy the scenery. Conserve your energy so you will make it to your destination without burning out.
Although these tips may appear to be commonsense, following them and any other safe practices you can think of may help you avoid some tragic situations that some people have gotten into on hikes.
Copyright 2006 by Leroy Chan