Wednesday, May 5, 2010

10 Tips for Hiking

  1. Pack the essentials: We're talking the real essentials here, first aid kit, water, rain gear, a multi-tool or pocket knife, etc. A little food is also important, at least a couple of power bars. Even if you're not expected to be gone for long, you need to be prepared. One never knows what can happen in the woods. Even experienced hikers sometimes get lost for days.
  2. But don't pack too much: Remember, I said to pack the essentials. Anything else is just extra weight you don't need. You shouldn't need extra clothes unless you're going to be gone a really long time, and camping gear shouldn't be necessary either unless you're going camping. I'm talking about hiking, a few hours or a day at the most.
  3. Let someone know where you're going: And approximately when you expect to be back. This is very important. It could save your life. It could save the life of others with you. It's probably a smarter thing to tell more than one person where you plan to go hiking and how long you expect to be there.
  4. Remember to rest: If you're getting tired and you're sweating, remember to take a break while out on the trails. Also, if you plan to stop for longer than just a few minutes, loosen the shoestrings on your hiking boots and kick those feet up; this helps to keep down any swelling.
  5. Bring a map and compass: Even if you're familiar with the stretch of woods where you're heading, it never hurts to bring along a map and compass. Remember, experienced hikers sometimes get turned around and lost, even in familiar territory. These tools will help you to know where you are at all times. If you're a techie person, you can get a GPS.
  6. Start small: If you're heading out for your first ever hike, or you haven't hiked in a while, don't overdo it. Start with a short hike. Maybe just a mile or two. You'll have plenty of time in future trips to gradually work yourself up to longer and longer trips.
  7. Have a fire source: Wood matches should do, but there are also small flint and steel kits, and there's always a good lighter. Hopefully you won't need a fire source, but it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. This is mainly a safety precaution in case you get lost overnight. But remember to practice safety. Even if you're in an emergency situation, you don't want to set the whole forest ablaze!
  8. Learn first aid: It wouldn't hurt to take a class on the basics of first aid. This could come in handy, or could even be necessary, if you or a loved one are injured while hiking. Check online or with your local Red Cross about first aid classes. And don't forget to pack at least a basic first aid kit.
  9. Know where to get help: In cases of emergencies, you need to know where the local rangers' stations are located, and how far away they are. It's also good to know how far you are from camping sites, roads, parking spaces, etc. Again, this could save someone's life.
  10. Don't wear cotton: Cotton holds moisture next to your skin and takes a long time to dry. This is not only uncomfortable, but could become dangerous if you are drenched, lost and stuck in the cold, dark woods all night.
To add, there are plenty of other tips to offer (such as wear a hat, wear sunglasses and sunscreen), so don't just depend on these 10 tips to protect your life. Use common sense, watch where you're walking and have fun out there.

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