Hike Safely

August 25th, 2017

Hiking is fun, it’s healthy, and keeps you balanced and in sync with what’s important in life. One of my blog posts dealt with “Hiking Essentials.” This post provides the key things you should consider when launching on your hiking journey. However, I need to take this post a step further and talk about how to hike safety.

Being safe on a hike is a big deal for me. While hiking in a remote wilderness area I fell and broke my ankle. That was a wakeup call. There are lots of things to consider about hiking safely.

The thing I see most frequently on hiking trails is gear that doesn’t provide a safety net plus inadequate water and electrolytes. You can get by without food for a while but water is a necessity. Carry enough water to cover any emergency. All too often I see hikers with only a small bottle of water. That won’t get the job done if the rescue effort takes more than a couple of days.

Spending a night on the trail will be a cold experience. Carry a simple bevy that weighs almost nothing and takes up very little space. Crawling into the bevy will keep you warm until rescue help arrives. Utilizing a backpack is essential because you can carry adequate supplies of water and other essentials need for survival. A fanny pack or a vest to carry a bottle of water doesn’t get it done.

Some additional items that should be in your backpack include:

  • Simple first aid kit
  • Snacks (trail mix, jerky, crackers and peanut butter)
  • Lighter/matches
  • Duct tape
  • Toilet paper
  • Whistle
  • Head lamp or small flash light
  • Wind jacket

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s move on to how to hike safe. Hiking alone is a bad idea. I know people do it, but it is still a bad idea. Hiking with three people allows one person to look for help while the other person stays with the injured hiker. Also, tell someone where you’re going.

How about slowing down to the speed of the hike, enjoying nature and taking pictures. Stay together with your group. Take breaks on the trail to rest and if it’s hot stop in the shade.

Rather than going full bore as fast as you can hike, take time to observe your location and landmarks. Even if you have a compass, notice the location of the sun relative to the time of day. It is a good idea to have a map and know how to read it. A GPS can be invaluable, but it’s useless if you don’t know how to use it.

As you hike, pay close attention to the surface of the trail and the placement of your feet. One slip is all it takes. Trekking poles can make a big difference on loose trail surfaces or slick rock.

These are simple tips that are easy to implement and apply. They can make the difference between a happy hike and a disaster.

Safe hiking.