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Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors and enjoy nature. It’s also fun, healthy, and an excellent way to get some exercise. Many people prefer to do it as a group, but if you love solo hiking, you can go on a hike and have fun as long as you take the necessary precautions. Here are tips to help you adequately prepare for a hiking solo while staying safe.
Solo Hiking Safety Tips
What to Bring On a Solo Hike
Water, snacks, map of hike area (and know how to use it), compass, and first aid kit are things to bring along. You may also want to bring along a portable phone, and an aaa led flashlight.
Take time to analyze the trail, know how long it will take you to and fro, and the most appropriate times to have the hike.
For safety, plan it in the morning, to be through by evening. There will be more other hikers in the morning, making the experience safer and exciting.
Also, dress appropriately. If it’s cold, dress warmly but in light layered clothes. Check whether you have hiking shoes and if you don’t, shop in advance.
Tell Someone Where You Are Going
Plan the hike for a place that has cell phone coverage. Tell at least one person where you are going and when they should expect to hear from you. In case of an emergency, somebody will know all is not well and follow up.
If you can, get a device that can track your location and give a detailed description of your trail to at least one confidant. Make sure to let your contact person know when you get back from the hike.
Choose a Well-Traveled Trail
For your first solo hike, stick to a well-maintained track that minimizes the chances of getting lost. If possible, choose a route near your home and keep it simple as you build confidence. If you are on vacation and want to hike, stick to well-traveled trails. Even if you don’t join other hikers, stay around people, avoid lonely trails, areas with animals, or river crossings.
Know Your Limits
Hiking can be difficult and even dangerous. Know your limits before setting off on a solo hike. If you’re not prepared for the terrain, it’s safer to change to a more accessible and familiar trail. Also, if you get too tired or the weather changes, don’t push yourself. You can always try to achieve your goals another time rather than risk getting trapped in bad weather, falling sick, or getting lost.
Understand the Weather Patterns
Hiking can be a dangerous activity in the wrong conditions. Know what to expect before you set off on an adventure. If there is lightning, heavy rain, or snow forecasted, then it’s best not to risk hiking at that time of day. Some areas receive unexpected weather changes. If a storm suddenly appears, it’s best to find shelter and wait until the weather clears up.
Don’t Wear Earphones
Always be aware of your surroundings when hiking alone. You don’t want to get too engrossed in a podcast or music that you miss out on an animal coming up right behind you. Staying alert also helps you notice and analyze other hikers and weather changes, prompting you to take the necessary actions before it’s too late.
Know the Kind of Wildlife in the Area
Animals are everywhere. Some are harmless, while others can be hazardous to humans. Take time to know the kind of wildlife in the area, and always take precautions when hiking alone. Choose trails animals don’t frequent and be alert. If you are in an area frequented by bears, carry bear spray but most importantly, avoid such places or join a group.
Trust Your Instincts
Always stay alert and trust your instincts. Being in a situation where you are alone and feel unsure or unsafe is never good, so always make the best decision for yourself, putting safety first. It might mean turning around, finding someone else to hike with, or staying put until help arrives. Always do what feels right when you feel threatened or are in danger.
Check-in at the Ranger’s Office
Spend a few minutes checking in at the ranger’s office when you locate one on your trail. It will let them know of your activities and location, and it allows a quick response if something were to happen or they need to contact you.
Remember to leave your contact details and ask how you can get them in case of an emergency. Also, let them know when to expect you back if you’re using the same path on your way from the hike.
You’ll get important information concerning the trails to avoid, expected weather conditions, and the current hiking concerns at the office.
Prepare Yourself Physically and Psychologically
Be sure to prepare yourself before the hike. The preparation might take some weeks or months, depending on your physical health. Eat healthy foods that will provide you with energy for your trekking and replenish nutrients after a long day on the trail. For instance, have some vegetables like spinach or broccoli and grains such as rice, barley, quinoa, or oats.
They are all high in protein, which is vital for muscle growth and repair, while carbohydrates help fuel your body with glucose so it can work quickly without interruptions from fatigue.
Sleep and Exercise Regularly
Get enough sleep; restless sleep depletes adrenal glands leaving you feeling drained of energy during an intense physical activity like hiking. Sleep deprivation also increases anxiety levels which may cause panic attacks when you’re alone in unfamiliar territory surrounded by dangers.
Consider an exercise routine to prepare your body for the intense activity ahead. You’ll build muscles and strength so your body can perform better. You’ll note tire quickly and can conquer hiking challenges without straining.
If you have any medical conditions, consult your doctor before the hike, and don’t strain yourself. If you are nursing an injury, you may have to wait for it to heal.
Remember hydration is essential, so don’t forget your water bottle and stay well hydrated before, during, and after the hike. Make sure to listen to your body and take a break when you feel exhausted. You can always complete the hike another day when you’re better prepared.
Solo Hiking Safety
I’m getting more and more adventurous when I visit a new place and don’t mind exploring a trail on my own. But I certainly know my limits!
What other tips do you use to stay safe while hiking solo? Share in the comments below!
You may also be interested in these tips for travel:
Annick, The Common Traveler
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Do you have any solo hiking trips planned this summer? Let me know in a comment below!