Summer is right around the corner and the Great Outdoors is calling. Hiking is a great way to relieve stress and spend time in nature, but a quick getaway can go wrong if you aren’t prepared, especially in the South. We compiled a few tips to help make your hike safe and comfortable.
Knowing where you’re going and having a lookout is the first step to a successful hike. Determine what trails you intend to travel and when you’ll be back from your hike. Share your plans with friends or family and make sure they know to follow up with you after your hike. Staying on track will help prevent getting lost, and your friend that knows your plans can help alert authorities in the event that you don’t return when you’re supposed to. If you can, bring a friend with you, too. Two heads are better than one.
You may plan for a few hours on the trail, but if something goes awry, you may be fending for yourself. Bring more water than you need, pack a small snack even if you don’t need one, and pack a jacket even if it’s hot. It’s also a great idea to pack a small backpack with plastic bags, ponchos, a first-aid kit, a pocket knife, a flashlight or headlamp, and a lighter.
A trail map will help you navigate, but these maps are often low resolution and don’t account for on-the-ground changes to a trail. A solid GPS, especially one that doesn’t require a cellular connection, or compass are invaluable. Mark the trailhead and you’ll always be able to navigate back.
Weather conditions can change rapidly and unanticipated threats are easy to come by. If you notice your situation getting bad, turn back and save the hike for another day.
In the end, it’s your responsibility to help take care of the natural environment. As the saying goes, “Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footsteps.”
- Don’t disturb animals or their homes.
- Don’t pick flowers or other plants.
- Don’t blare loud music or talk too loudly.
- Don’t litter. Whatever you carry in, carry it out.
While hiking can be dangerous, following these tips will help you stay safe and be prepared while on the trail.