DX Hiker Logo Electronic Weather Stations & Accessories

TRAIL SAFETY

Home
About DX Hiker
Hiking Family
Index of Hikes
A Year To Remember

DX Hiker Trail Maps

DX Hiker Photography
SW Virginia Weather

Before You Go

   What To Carry
   What To Wear
  Trail Safety
   Trail Courtesy
   Plants & Animals
Recommended Sites
Disclaimer
Custom Map Services
Email DX Hiker
 

 

Click here to join the Yahoo Group DX Hiking
JOIN DX HIKING!

 

Electronic Weather Stations & Accessories
Electronic Weather
Stations & Accessories

 

Hiking provides exercise and interest for people of any age. Just getting out and walking around is a wonderful way to see nature. Since unexpected things happen, however, the best way to help guarantee a good time for all is to plan ahead carefully and follow common sense safety precautions.

If you have any medical conditions, discuss your plans with your health care provider and get approval before departing.

Review the equipment, supplies and skills that you'll need. Consider what emergencies could arise and how you would deal with those situations. What if you got lost, or were unexpectedly confronted by an animal? What if someone became ill or injured? What kind of weather might you encounter? Add to your hiking checklist the supplies you would need to deal with these situations. Pack emergency signaling devices, and know ahead of time the location of the nearest telephone or ranger station in case an emergency does occur on your trip.

Make sure you have the skills you need for your hiking adventure. You may need to know how to use a compass (see Kjetil Kjernsmo's illustrated guide), erect a temporary shelter or give first aid. Practice your skills in advance.

If your trip will be strenuous, get into good physical condition before setting out. If you plan to climb or travel to high altitudes, make plans for proper acclimatization to the altitude.

It's safest to hike with at least one companion. If you'll be entering a very remote area, your group should have a minimum of four people; this way, if one is hurt, another can stay with the victim while two go for help. If you'll be going into an area that is unfamiliar to you, take along someone who knows the area or at least speak with those who do before you set out.

Some areas require you to have reservations or certain permits. If an area is closed, do not go there. Find out in advance about any regulations. There may be rules about campfires or guidelines about wildlife.

I hike alone about 75% of the time. When I was a hiking novice, it seemed like most of my friends, family, and acquaintances expressed worry about my new solitary hobby. There are all kinds of statistics about trail safety; i.e. you're more safe on the trail than you are in your car on the way to the trail, etc. But number crunching has nothing to do with how each hiker feels out there in the wild. I try to honor my gut feelings about people and situations. With most people I encounter, they (and I) seem content with a simple greeting. The tough part is that you can't anticipate or control the behavior of someone else.

What you can control is your behavior on the trail:

  • Know your limits.

  • Don't exhaust or dehydrate yourself, diminishing your judgment.

  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person. Include such details as the make, year, and license plate of your car, the equipment you're bringing, the weather you've anticipated and when you plan to return.

  • Walk carefully and cautiously on portions of the trail where the consequences of a slip-up could be disastrous (steep drop offs, crumbling trail edges, rocks).

  • Make contact with rangers you may encounter in desolate areas. If you go missing, they will remember you.

  • Don't let anyone talk you out of hiking alone if you enjoy it.

TRAILHEAD SAFETY

For some reason best left to psychiatrists, the trailhead is sometimes the most dangerous location of a hike. Along the Appalachian Trail, incidents involving hikers with robbers, murderers, and general creeps have historically been almost completely confined to those areas of the trail that cross roads. I'm not saying you should lose sleep about murderers, but take some precautions at trailheads.

  • Lock your car. Keep anything valuable or enticing to thieves at home.

  • Don't linger at the trailhead. If you feel uncomfortable with the atmosphere at the trailhead, consider leaving to hike elsewhere. If you decide to stay, head out onto the trail; you can consult the map once you get going.

  • Upon returning to your car, have your keys ready and be quick to get into your car.

  • If you encounter suspicious or threatening people, report them to police or park management. Park rangers are considered peace officers.

  • Carry a cell phone. A marginal tip, since cell phones won't get a signal in many places. I feel it can't hurt to carry one, although I keep it off unless I need it.

HYDRATION

For a safe hike, drink lots of water. Dehydration is caused when you fail to replenish your fluids. Symptoms include dark urine, mental confusion, headache, nausea, dizziness, and lack of coordination. When you become dehydrated you may not realize your state, making matters worse.

The best way to beat dehydration is to drink lots of fluids, like water, or sports drinks, but not beverages containing caffeine (they are diuretic and will cause you to loose more liquid). Since it seems there are no longer any pure mountain streams, you must either carry water purification equipment, or bring water or other beverages from home with you. It's not a good idea to count on water being available at the trailhead. You need to make sure you have water.

Sometimes when you are hiking you may be having such a good time that you won't feel like stopping, pulling out the water, and drinking. It's vital that you do. A good rule is to try for a few deep swallows of water every 20 minutes or so. If you feel thirsty, it's already too late; you have started to become dehydrated. A good motivation for drinking the water you carry with you is that the more you drink, the less you have to carry (don't think about it too carefully and it may work for you).

You may consider a pouch hydration system. The newer products have zip-lock tops for easy sanitizing, and are lighter than Nalgene bottles. The only negative is the thermal property of the plastic tubing. Since water sits in the tube, it gets warmed by the sun. If you don't clear the tube frequently, the water can get bathtub-temp warm.

TURNAROUND TIME (From DayHiker.com)

A carefully planned long day trip must have an estimated time that you stop and go back to civilization. Since you have no overnight equipment, food and water are minimal, and you are dressed lightly, itís imperative to stick a deadline for reaching your goal. In most cases you should be on your way back by noon, at the latest. If you don't do this, you might be the subject of a newspaper article chronicling the pros and cons of your survival techniques.

Site Design by internetEFX Web Services

Copyright © 2003-2008 DXHiker.com
All Rights Reserved.

Site Map