Every year, millions of us love escaping into the outdoors for a hike, but it’s not something that should be decided on at the spur of the moment. Even if you’re familiar with a trail, you shouldn’t take anything to chance and some level of planning is required. Follow these tips to plan safely for your next day hike. We'll start with some poniters for new hikers.
For New Hikers
New hikers should start with local, well defined routes, which are relatively short and have rangers on hand to give guidance. Gradually built up your fitness and endurance levels with shorter walks and get accustomed to carrying a weighted backpack. Once shorter walks become easier, consider hiking further. And for your safety:
- Always go hiking with a partner, family, or someone with experience.
- If you have concerns over your fitness levels or a medical condition, seek advice.
Go Properly Equipped
When getting equipped, water resistant, insulating clothing, which will keep you warm in a range of conditions, should be among your priorities. However, proper footwear that is comfortable and won’t rub your feet will be essential, too. And don't overlook accessories like a hat and sunglasses.
- Pack ample food and water.
- Take some cash.
- Inspect your essential gear for any faults.
- And have a plan for emergencies.
Step Up Your Fitness Levels
Don’t underestimate the importance of being fit enough to complete a day hike. Even shorter hikes can be more challenging than you think. You’ll be depending a lot on leg strength so concentrate on squats, lunges, one legged squats, calf raises and deadlifts to condition your muscles.
As part of your exercise routine, focus on your aerobic fitness to build your endurance levels. Cycling is a good choice, as is jogging and fast walking. Or you might prefer a regular aerobics class. To complete your routine, add some stretches, and concentrate on the upper and lower leg region, back and arms/shoulders.
As for specific fitness regimens, remember exercise is an individual thing and what works for others, might not be suitable you. If you have an injury, weakness or health problem, ask a medical professional for advice. For areas prone to weakness, kinesiology tape can be useful. And you could use walking poles to reduce the stress on your joints if you’re prone to knee/ankle/hip pain.
Let Technology Do The Work
With apps and GPS trackers so readily available, navigating your route and researching it has never been easier. Apps allow you to learn more about a trail before you go, making the research side straight forward. Download any apps and familiarize yourself with the trail before you go..
In addition to allowing research, technology has make the hiker much safer. GPS trackers give the hiker confidence by aiding direction, and they can assist hikers in getting support should they get lost or injured. Safety beacons can also be a sound investment. These pieces of equipment are more sophisticated than ever these days, and they don’t rely on a signal in the same way a regular phone does.
Once You’ve Planned Your route, Stick To It
If you’ve got a sense of adventure, you might feel the urge to get off the beaten track and explore. However, this can increase your risk of accident or injury because of the untested nature of the terrain. Always stick to the defined trail and the route you planned so that you can be found quickly and easily if necessary.
Plan When To Turn Back
Some hikers consider it a failure to turn back, but there are occasions when it’s sensible to quit sooner rather than later. For instance, changes in the weather, the area getting darker or colder early than you thought, a minor injur,y or a realization you're under prepared can all happen. These are all reasons to make your way back to safety rather than continuing.
More Americans than ever are embracing the opportunity to get into the great outdoors and hike. However, without adequate preparation you chance putting yourself in danger and putting others at risk, too. Every time you plan a day hike, follow the above tips, always take the 10 essentials, and be ready for emergencies.
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