Hiking Tips: Necessities

images (1)It’s important to note that a good day hike requires a few necessities. Without them, a fun day in the outdoors can quickly take a turn for the miserable. Below are the key essentials that all day hikers – from beginners to seasoned veterans – should be familiar with.
Proper planning is important. Obtain trail maps, guidebooks, trail distance, estimated time required and any other information before you leave on a hike.
– Keep trail maps and guidebooks in a waterproof ziplock bag.
– Consider using a GPS.
– Check weather conditions and forecast.
– Consider the ability level of everyone in your group, when choosing a hike.
– It’s very important to tell someone of your plans and when you expect to return. In an emergency, this could help with the rescue. Check in with them when you get back.
– Never hike alone. Always go with a friend.
– Don’t pack to heavy.Keep your pack weight as light as possible.
– Take plenty of water – 2 or 3 quarts per person. Staying hydrated will help maintain your energy level.
– The temperature is always cooler in the mountains. Plan and dress accordingly. Dress in layers.
– Start early so that you have plenty of time to enjoy your hike and the destination. Plan to head back so you finish your hike well before dark.
– Hike only as fast as the slowest member of your group.
– Pace yourself. Don’t hike too quickly. Save your energy.
– Stay on trails unless you have excellent navigational skills.
– Never approach wild animals. They may look cute and harmless but they are very unpredictable and can be very territorial and protective. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. In most cases, the animals are more afraid of us and will run away. Do not attempt to feed wild animals. Most injuries occur when people try to feed them.
– Look out for snakes, spiders and other critters. Watch where you are walking, be careful when picking up sticks or rocks and look around before taking a seat. Again, snakes are usually more afraid of us, but if they feel threatened or if you make sudden movements they may strike. Stay calm and slowly move away from them.
– Be careful where you are walking. Watch out for low branches and loose rocks. Take it slow through mud and water and be careful of loose leaves on the trail. Stay away from steep cliffs and other drop off areas. Look out for brush with thorns and learn to identify poisonous plants.
– Keep track of your progress on the map so that you know where you are at all times.
– Take turns leading and following trail markers. Share decisions.
– Pack high energy snacks like granola, energy or fruit bars, gorp trail mixes, fruit, candy, beef jerky, bagels, or pita bread, etc.
– Don’t drink soda or alcohol when hiking. They will dehydrate you.
– Use a purification system for water from a natural resource.
– For blisters or hot spots use moleskin or bandages immediately to stop further damage and to relieve pain. Keep your feet dry – change socks often.
Hiking sticks or poles may help make your trip a little easier by giving you some stability on wet trails, and reducing strain on your legs when going up or down slopes.
– Be aware of your increased exposure to ticks when hiking in the outdoors.
– Protect yourself against other insects such as bees, ants, mosquitoes, flies, etc. Not only can they be annoying, but they can cause quite a bit of pain and discomfort. Many people have severe allergic reactions to their bites and need to carry necessary medical supplies or seek medical attention. Again be aware of your surroundings. Refer to Keeping the Bugs Away for more details.
– Bring a whistle on hikes. Three short whistles mean you are in trouble and need assistance.
– Learn to identify the many things you will discover as you hike.

5 thoughts on “Hiking Tips: Necessities

  1. Some great suggestions in here…!

    It sounds like you wrote this for someone with moderate experience and plans to take a few friends out? If so, I’d add one more tip: lead from the middle. Hike in the center of the group with some people ahead of you and some behind, you’ll be in a position to keep an eye/ear on everybody. Also, and I learned this from personal experience, have a sense of the ability level of everybody coming on the hike, and if they’re mis-matched, make sure everybody has a clear plan for how things will go. (I took two marathon runners out with a married couple and their dog, the runners sprinted up the hills while the older couple meandered along the trail.)

    And you’re right that it’s important to leave a copy of your plans behind. This is actually the #1 best thing you can do for your safety. Leave the specific trail you’re going to be on and where it is, including what county (because it’s the sheriff who’s ultimately responsible for search and rescue, knowing which county means knowing which sheriff to call), the color of your clothes and other gear, and what time to expect you back.

    That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to hike alone. Life is too short to miss out on some time in the mountains just because everybody else is too busy watching TV.

    1. Agreed, 99% of the time I hike alone, but I made the suggestions for the rookie hikers. There are those who go hiking and then there are hikers, lol. My time alone hiking in the mountains are valuable moments and days spent away from the things that distract so many from really enjoying life.

      1. Thanks! 🙂

        I hope you get to make it out here sometime, but not any time soon. Winter arrived ahead of schedule this year, it’ll start getting nice again in April and some of the better trails will begin to melt out in June. But if you ever do decide to head out this way, drop me a line, I’ll recommend some trails and if I can make time, I’ll join you on one of them.

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