Hiking trails has always been a good form of exercise, increasing stamina, resistance training, along with a longer term increase in heart rate. While the benefits are great, they are not worth the risk if you are unprepared for the trail and distance you will be hiking. Where walking, hiking, biking or other means of motion, preparing for your hike is critical.
If you are going through wilderness, you need to make sure you are aware of any dangerous animals in the area. You need to have maps, food, water and an emergency survival kit. It should have a signal mirror, space blanket, whistle, compass and other small items critical for survival, and making it easier to be found by search and rescue teams (SAR).
A backpack with an extra change of clothes, some dehydrated food for a couple of days and if you can, find a water purification straw. You should also have a solid, yet sharp knife in your backpack as well as an emergency locator beacon and a safe means to start a fire. Believe me, even on a warm night of 65 degree F, sleeping on the ground can cause hypothermia if the conditions are wet or rainy. You will need fire if you get lost and have to survive in the wilderness.
Why did I start off with all of these survival items?
We’ll, to make this simple, a lot of people get lost of hiking trails in the wilderness and never come out alive.
- Estimated number of SAR missions in US each year: 50,000.
- Percent of SAR operations aiding lost individuals: 36%
- Percent of SAR operations in national parks to find lost hikers: 40%
It’s a lot more than most think, and even well seasoned hikers will tell you quickly how easy it is to get lost and confused on trails sometimes. Be prepared or risk becoming another statistic.
Pay attention to the terrain. Rocks and sharp stones can ruin a trip quickly, as can steep hills while either climbing of heading into a valley. Take your time because there is no room for mistakes and no “ops my bad” once you break an ankle 20 miles in the middle of nowhere at 4,000 ft on the side of a mountain.
A fun hike is the one you come home safely from.
Damon Spencer is an avid hiker, camper, and definite dog lover. With a husky in tow, there’s always adventure to be had in the great outdoors.