Hiking 101: All You Need To Know
Preparation, awareness and attention to recovery are keys to hiking safely
Hiking is a great option for an active getaway. You get yourself moving, see beautiful sights and get to spend time outside. But, there are certain safety steps that you need to take, especially if you’re indulging in a winter hike. Keep these safety tips from the National Parks Services and other professionals in mind for every stage of your hike.
When you’re considering a vacation with an extended hike, or even a day hike, you’ll want to take the following steps to prepare:
Make Sure Your Gear is in Good Working Order. If you plan to camp as part of your hike, make sure your tent is free of holes, is water and pest proof. Carry a headlamp, first aid kit, adequate food and water.
Tuck a Map and Necessities in Your Pack. Make sure you have a map or two of the areas where you’ll be hiking. Tuck a cell phone and your identification in too. If you hike frequently, you may want to invest in a cordless phone charger.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going. Make sure people know where you’re going, when you’re leaving and when you expect to return. Also, give them a map outlining your route.
During the Hike
Preparation is just one step. Attention to safety is even more important once you’ve gotten out onto the trails.
Stay on Marked Trails. By keeping to known trails, this reduces the possibility that you’ll get lost.
Wear Bright Colors. If you wear camouflage or earth tones, it’s possible that you’ll blend in. If you choose bright colors, you’ll stand out and it’ll be easier for people to distinguish you from wildlife.
If You Get Lost, Stay Where You Are. Make a shelter to keep yourself dry and safe from wildlife until help comes.
Do Not Hike At Night. You’ll have more risk of getting lost, running into wildlife or injuring yourself.
Leave Your Pets at Home. Bringing pets on the trail can rile up wildlife. It can also increase the potential that you might injure yourself – getting tangled up in a dog leash on rough terrain is the perfect mixture to cause an injury.
After the Hike
It’s important to take care of yourself after a hike. If you unwind properly and follow a healthy routine, you’ll be able to take more hikes in the future and you might find them easier.
Cool Down. Do not stop moving immediately after your hike. Move more slowly and less intensely for the next 5-10 minutes, allowing your heart rate to adjust and your muscles to relax.
Stretch. While you muscles are warm, preferably as part of your cool down routine, stretch gently to relieve tightness in your muscles. Stretching also helps to move lactic acid from muscles.
Drink Up. Rehydrate yourself. Drink a glass of water during your cool down and continue drinking water for the next few hours afterward. Not only does this rehydrate your body, but it helps to flush lactic acid and byproducts of your workout from your system.
Rest. Take it easy after your cool down and the next day. Get adequate sleep the night after your hike. This will help your body recover more fully, and faster.