As the summer months are on the horizon there is a renewed interest in outdoor activities. One of the most commonly misunderstood of these is hiking. After all, what is hiking, really, but walking? This post is not directed to those experienced hikers who already know the answer to that question. As the number of rescues by Park Rangers and other wilderness first responders is on the rise, however, we would like to address some of the most important basics to safe enjoyment of the Great Outdoors.

Water Water Everywhere

“..Nor any drop to drink.”  Proper hydration can be one of the most difficult things to maintain. The detectable signs of dehydration occur after your body is already in distress so prevention here is key. Carry as much water as you can. Water is heavy and it can be tempting to leave the weight behind. A good (not necessarily expensive) backpack will have pockets designed to carry water bottles and distribute the weight of them. There also “camel back” packs which carry the water in a pouch on your back and have a straw on the front for you to use.  A portable water purifier can be used to make standing water safe to drink, although this is only useful if there is water where you are hiking.

These Boots are Made for Walking

Park Rangers report a surprising number of stranded hikers who set out wearing flip flops. For day hikers the requirements for footwear are mainly: no flip-flops and no brand new shoes that have not yet learned the unique curves of your beautiful feet! As you gain experience in hiking and plan longer excursions that require hardier shoes and boots, you will probably want to wear moisture-wicking socks.

Where in the World Is ……?

With the many free apps that offer directions comes a lesser devotion to pre-route planning on a paper map. Those of a certain age remember the spiral-bound AAA Trip Ticks and the careful study of roads prior to any road trip that extended beyond an hour or so! If you are hiking a designated trail there will be “Trail Maps” available for you. We recommend having something on paper so that if anything happens to your smart phone (battery outage, getting wet, getting lost) you have a backup. The same consideration applies to a total reliance of your GPS on your cell phone.  A simple compass is small, lightweight and absolutely as reliable as Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs! If you are embarking on an independent venture a map that shows the terrain is just as essential, if not more so. It is probably true that the time it takes you to reach your “destination” will not equal the time it takes you to return to your starting place.  

This Land is Your Land

The sun, flying insects and poisonous plants are all obstacles that Mother Nature poses whether you are near or far you are from home. With the proper preparation she will reward you with the healing peace of her beautiful landscape, creatures and sounds. So as you are making your plans to enjoy these warmer days . . .

Remember the Great Outdoors

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