Guest Post by Nora Mork
Walking and hiking are immensely popular pastimes all around the globe, and with an increasing focus on tackling obesity and improving fitness levels, more and more people are taking up hiking as a pleasant means of exercising.
Hiking is a really nice sport to get into as it requires minimal gear – just a decent pair of shoes really, so it isn’t prohibitively expensive to try it out. It’s also something you can do at any level of difficulty, and you can work your way up gently. Add nice views and a pleasant breeze, and you have a pretty perfect form of exercise – unless you start making the common mistakes outlined below.
1) Not Prioritizing First Aid
Hiking seems like a fairly gentle sport and you might not think you need to pay much attention to first aid stuff, but remember that it’s easy to fall, injure yourself, and get stuck in the middle of nowhere without help. While cell phones have made this less likely, you should never underestimate the importance of basic first aid.
Think about your party size and the potential hazards you’ll face when packing your first aid kit. Make sure you’re carrying pain relief and bandages as the very basic necessities, and then choose other things based on your individual hiking needs.
2) Not Carrying Enough Water
This might sound obvious, but water is heavy and you may find on some hikes, you’re tempted to skimp and carry very little, or none at all – especially if the weather isn’t too hot. Avoid this temptation. Not having enough water with you while away from civilization could literally kill you. This is obviously a worst-case scenario, but don’t risk your health; carry water.
“Many hikers say a good rule of thumb is a liter of water for two hours of hiking. Remember that you’re likely to be sweating more as you move, so compensate for that. Listen to your body and learn how much you need to carry, then err on the side of safety” says Curtis Beecher, a lifestyle blogger at State of writing and Academized.
3) Getting Lost
Even if you know the trail “like the back of [your] hand,” don’t let over-confidence ruin a hike. Take a compass, take a good map, and make sure you know where you are. You might not have phone signal if you walk a long way, so don’t depend on that to get you out of trouble.
Knowing where you are is key to safety, and means you can get help quickly if something happens and you have to call in emergency services. Carry a map even if you know the area very well.
5) Ignoring The Weather
Hiking in wet or extreme weather can be different and exhilarating, but make sure you are rational and safe, too. Rain is rarely going to be an issue, but a storm could bring deadly lightning, high winds, and possibly snow if the temperature is low enough. These, as well as being dangerous themselves, can lead to falling branches, rock slides, and even wildfires.
Check weather forecasts thoroughly and make sensible judgments. Be aware of where you will be and potential hazards you will face, and call off a hike if the conditions are looking too bad. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
6) Not Knowing Trail Etiquette
Learn the language of the trails and obey the rules; it makes hiking pleasanter for everyone. “This involves treating the environment with respect by not littering or leaving gates open, and not leaving any campfires with smoldering coals that could cause a danger if the wind picked up” comments Chad Tomasini, a writer at Revieweal and Bestbritishessays.
It also includes allowing someone hiking uphill right of way if you are traveling down, or letting a faster hiker pass you without having to wait. These mostly apply if the path is narrow, and may have some exceptions, but are general rules to follow. You should also avoid playing loud music on the trail, as some people may prefer to listen to sounds of nature.
Enjoy hiking, take pictures, and feel proud of yourself for getting fit, but remember to take care of yourself and anyone you hike with, and to treat other hikers with respect and courtesy so that everyone can enjoy the sport together.