Plenty of hikers get lost, incapacitated or even pass away while trekking throughout far-off spots on backcountry locations and wilderness spots in the country every year. The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has said that hikes should not amount to injuries, deaths or expensive search and recovery missions. They could be avoided with proper planning before a trek.
This article will further discuss tips to assist hikers while planning summer or fall treks.
Create a plan and inform your family
First and foremost, arm yourself with information about the spots or trail you are involving yourself with. Know the weather and possible dangers you will encounter on the track.
Getting proper information will include reviewing maps centered on the area, informing other individuals on your group (if you are hiking with other people) on the range of tracks and advancing substitute trail selections.
After gathering data, let your family or a friend know about your hiking plans and where you are planning to go. Inform them about the date of the hike, your departure point, your itinerary and expected homecoming date.
In addition, pay extra attention to landmarks on your route since these landmarks might change noticeably in terms of appearance depending on your angle of scrutiny, lighting and elevation.
Check your gear before the hike
Of course you should take all the essential hiking gear with you.
Intense preparation for your gear must be done prior to your departure point. Give your gear a run-through before leaving. Check your boots if they are still in good condition and not ready for replacement. Thoroughly inspect your backpack, tent, sleeping bag and hiking clothing. Some areas can have spotty, unpredictable weather so make sure to pack some additional clothing. Sure, it will add a bit more weight on your bag, but the extra weight will prove helpful when things don’t go your way.
This will also ring true when it comes to food, so pack several food items on your pack just to make sure that you won’t walk the trail hungry.
Hiking in summer means you have to pack extra water with you. Some areas have higher humidity levels than others so additional water is always crucial. Hikers are at risk with dehydration during the hotter months so avoid this situation at all cost. You can get small and light water filter devices to safely drink all the water in the mountains.
Know your limitations
If you’re trekking with a group of people, make sure that the flow of communication is ongoing. Employ the buddy system and be attentive with each other’s concerns. Examine your companions’ exhaustion, energy levels and food intake for this can put a stop to future issues along the way.
Bring emergency equipment
If you’re hiking solo, make sure that you include a first-aid kit in your pack. Recommended items include medical tape, band-aids, over-the-counter medicines for pain, antibacterial balms or ointment, extra headlamp batteries and one or two compresses.
If you are going with a group of hikers, create a communal first-aid kit with extra items like braces or splints.
When things don’t go as expected
Park rangers often recommend that lost hikers should stay where they are until assistance shows up. If you packed proper gear, you can survive the whole ordeal. Hikers who have gotten lost in the wilderness and drifted around without aim, particularly in bad weather, can go from bad to worse.
Yes, it can be a little embarrassing to be lost and then eventually rescued but this situation is better compared to being dragged out of the backcountry in a body bag. If you are hiking with a group of people and somebody in the group suffers from an injury, make sure that you practice good judgment. Decide further whether you and the rest of the group should proceed and finish the hike, send out two people back for help or just wait for rescue.
To prevent you getting lost, make sure you always take proper hiking charts and a hiking GPS with you. And know how to use them!
Extra precaution when hiking with children
Family hikes with children are a great bonding experience, encourages physical fitness and urges children to appreciate nature. However, physical abilities differ with each and every family member, and this is recognized especially on long-distance hikes. Beforehand, know the the distance, surroundings, weather and elevation to avoid issues down the route.
Little kids are apt to get distracted and bored easily as compared with the adults in a group. Make sure that the small kids are kept close to the adults the whole time to avoid getting hurt by animals. Children are also more at risk with exhaustion and dehydration so the family hike should be put to a stop in case this happens instead of finishing the entire trail.
Focus on your movements
If you are hiking on steep, rocky stretches, remember to take smaller steps and lean onward once the terrain gets sharper. Going too fast or taking bigger steps on steep terrain can do a number on your calf and Achilles tendon.
The views that certain tracks offer can be amazing, awe-inspiring and intimidating. However, keep your focus to where you are heading. If you suddenly start getting nervous of that impending sharp drop-off near you, take deep breaths to calm yourself down and focus your attention to the route ahead of you instead.
If you are near to the end of your mountainous journey, remember that descending is always harder than ascending. So take extra precautions coming down. Do not be in a hurry because surrendering to momentum and hurtling yourself down the track can result into terrible injuries.
Take your rest
Hiking can be draining regardless of physical and experience levels and fitness backgrounds. After the hike, hikers should take note of signs of ill health on their bodies if they went beyond their limitations. Being physically fit prior to the hike will help immensely but so does ample rest after the trek.
Hikers who have suffered from injuries should seek immediate medical help after the hike and take more time to rest before going to another trek.
Take the above hiking tips in mind and do take in account the tips of the National Park Service Retirees (NPS). We all want to enjoy the backcountry hiking but don’t put your health or life on the risk.