Hiking 101 Worst Case Scenario Preparation with Lance Cody-Valdez and my724outdoors.com!
Lance has written a great article for you this week! We call it Hiking 101 Worst Case Scenario Preparation. Beginning hikers can run into unforeseen challenges and we hope this article helps you prepare for some of them.
If you’ve decided to add hiking to your list of hobbies, then you’ve made a great choice. Hiking is excellent physical exercise, but beyond that it provides a way to get out and enjoy nature – something that has numerous mental health and stress-busting benefits. Hiking, while usually safe and incident-free, can pose some danger to beginners who head out into the woods unprepared, or who are hiking international trails.
To help, My724outdoors.com offers several ways novice hikers can prepare for the worst.
Always carry a bag full of essentials
Never go out into the woods without a backpack full of essentials. This bag can be the difference between an enjoyable hike and a miserable one – and in some extreme cases the difference between life or death. An essential hiking bag should have water, snacks, a GPS device, a compass (if the GPS device fails), a first aid kit, some sort of firestarter, and a pocket knife.
Know what to do if you get lost
It’s easier than you think to wander off trail and get turned around in the woods. If you think that you are lost, the first thing you should do is stop moving. The chances you’ll simply walk around in circles, expending valuable energy, are pretty high. Or you’ll just head deeper into the woods. Assess your situation. If you have a GPS device, preprogram it with the coordinates of the trail exit or your campsite before you go out.
If you find yourself in the worst of worst-case scenarios and truly lost, your first two priorities should be fire and shelter. One golden rule of hiking that helps in these sorts of situations is to always tell someone that you’re going hiking and the general area where you’re headed – especially if you’re going alone. This increases the chance of someone finding you multifold. For more on what to do if lost in the woods, check here.
Be ready for chance encounters with dangerous animals
For many hikers, the worst-case scenario is running into a bear. It’s rare, but it does happen. You should carry bear mace with you at all times. You should also know how to react to different kinds of bears – those in defense mode or those that are aggressive. Bears in defense mode (usually protecting a carcass or their cubs) probably want an encounter as much as you do. Have your spray at the ready, but simply back away from them as calmly and slowly as possible.
Aggressive bears, however, require a different tactic. You should stand tall, raise your arms, and make a lot of noise.Snakes are another dangerous animal you may encounter on a hike. The best advice is to always be aware of your surroundings and watch where you’re stepping. Never approach a snake. It’s essential to carry a first aid kit while hiking, just in case things go south.
If your four-legged companion will be hiking alongside you, it is an absolute must that you educate yourself on how to prevent a confrontation between your dog and another wild animal such as coyotes and skunks. For example, a coyote can be easily shooed away as long as your dog doesn’t get too close, but a skunk will feel threatened if you get too close and unleash a smelly spray, so it is best to back away slowly.
Layer your clothes
Another good tip for any hiker is to understand the value of layering your clothes, whether you’re hiking in a nearby trail in a warm season or hiking in the Himalayas. During many parts of the year, temperatures in the woods can range from pretty hot during the day, to dangerously cold at night. Hypothermia can set in faster than you think. REI suggests wearing plenty of thin layers so you’ll have the ability to remove or add back layers as the temperature changes.
Have a backup plan
Another potential crisis is losing your backpack or having it stolen. Ideally, you want to have copies of important documents, and extra cash tucked away. However, there’s always a chance you won’t be covered. Make extra copies of ID cards, passports, health insurance documents, etc. and see about having items stored in your hotel safe, or at least hidden well in your suitcase if you’re traveling. In the event that you have no credit cards or cash, you want to have a plan to access funds as quickly as possible. Fortunately, friends and family can use a site like Remitly to send quick cash to destinations around the world. Even in faraway places like Nepal! Fees are as low as $3.99, and transfers occur within minutes.
If you respect the fact that nature is unpredictable, you’ll find yourself wanting to be better prepared for even the rare hiking scenarios. Better safe than sorry may be a trite phrase, but when it comes to dealing with the wilderness, it still holds true.
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