Hiking is a great activity for everyone, whether you’re doing it to stay fit or just want to get out of the house. Change your scenery from the gym or your usual jogging route to a natural trail that brings fresh air and beautiful landscapes. It will not only help you burn more calories but also improve your balance, coordination, sense of direction and agility. If you’re just a beginner planning to go outside for a hike, here are some tips to stay safe while on the trail.
1. Know your route and forecast before you leave.
Check your area first for easy trails you can take as a novice. There are various factors to consider when picking your trail, such as potential hazards and length of hike. Hazards include rocks, roots, and water that will affect the trail’s difficulty.
Once you’ve chosen your trail, identify the best route. Once you are there, avoid any unauthorized trails or off-trails. Unauthorized trails are the ones that have been established by animals and other recreationists. If you’re hiking in a local park, the park authorities and rangers can advise you more about your trail options. You must also consider your physical condition when selecting your trail.
Do not forget to check the weather forecast before your hike to be able to wear appropriate clothing. Before leaving your place, inform your friends and relatives regarding your plans and include your contact number just in case.
2. Go with a group or an experienced friend.
As a hiking novice, your best option would be to join a group typically composed of 4-6 people. This would make it more fun and will give you a hiking buddy throughout the trail to avoid getting lost and having an accident.
If you’re not a fan of big groups, bring a more experienced friend who can guide you. You can also bring a well-trained dog as your hiking companion. Bring your cellphone and ID even if you are hiking with a friend, just in case you get separated.
There is a rule of three for hiking where there should always be at least three people. The main idea is that a group of three allows one to stay with the person who may be hurt, while the third person can go out to get help.
3. Pack necessary things for your hike.
One of the common mistakes novice hikers make is not bringing any necessary items for their hike. It’s okay not to bring a bottle of water when you’re going for a jog, but hiking requires water to avoid dehydration.
If you’re unsure how much water to take, then follow the ideal ratio of one liter for every two hours of hike. Since you cannot predict the future, do not forget to bring a first aid kit and medicine. It can be as basic as bandage for small cuts and blisters, gauze rolls for holding dressing in place, multi-use tool to use during emergencies, dressing pads to stop bleeding, topical antibiotic ointment for wound application, and antiseptic towelettes for cleaning small wounds. You can also include pain relievers such as aspirin and Ibuprofen. Bring any prescribed medication.
Nutrition is key to making your hikes enjoyable. The most useful foods are nuts, dried fruits, bars, and jelly ace. Almonds or walnuts are great as a snack since they’re loaded with healthy fat and protein. Bring a whistle and pepper spray to use during emergencies. If you’re hiking through thick areas, an insect repellant will also be useful.
4. Enjoy the trail.
Hiking can be a regular physical activity that is both enjoyable and rewarding. If you’re a novice, do not be afraid to take mini breaks and pace yourself during the hike. The break is for drinking water and eating your snacks while enjoying the scenery.
Go slow, take your time, have fun, and set your pace. Soon, you’ll be hiking longer and more challenging trails. But always remember, safety first.