The summit on Hawksbill Mountain in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia provides sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. On a transparent day, miles of lush forest and valleys might be seen in any direction. It’s the sort of vista that begs for a square on Instagram, isn’t terribly difficult to achieve and drives thousands and thousands to hit the paths.
While a overwhelming majority of hikes end without incident, strenuous physical activity coupled with extreme weather and the dearth of preparedness has resulted in a wave of recent injuries and deaths. This month, not less than two hikers in america have been found dead, one near a lake outside Kansas City, Mo., and one other in White Sands National Park in Latest Mexico. In June, a hiker with hypothermia died after being rescued in freezing temperatures and high winds near Mount Clay in Latest Hampshire.
“Sometimes going out without the abilities results in bad circumstances,” said Jennifer Pharr Davis, who has hiked greater than 14,000 miles of long trails and is the owner of the Blue Ridge Mountaineering Company. Kate Van Waes, the manager director of the American Mountaineering Society, added that hikers should learn to seek out their adventure throughout the expertise they’ve, which may at all times grow with experience.
Before you head out, listed below are some safety suggestions and reminders, regardless of your skill level.
What should I do before the hike?
Have a practical plan. Hikers must have some knowledge of the route they plan to take, including the condition of the trail — whether it’s steep, rocky or smooth. Hikers must also take stock of the weather forecast and the way they’re feeling on the day of the hike. “You may be an authority hiker, but your stomach is bothering you that day otherwise you’ve got a headache,” Ms. Van Waes said. “Or your knee is acting up. Don’t push through it.”
She also said that failing to alert family or friends of your plan was one in all the most important mistakes made by hikers, whether or not they’re newbies or experienced. “Be certain that someone who shouldn’t be on the hike knows while you’re going, where you’re going and while you expect to be back,” she said.
What should I pack?
The American Mountaineering Society has developed an inventory of 10 essentials that each hiker should assemble before heading out, including a paper map and a compass as backups to phones and GPS units. Rain gear, a knife and sun protection are also vital. Visitors to national parks can download maps to make use of offline.
Ms. Davis said a first-aid kit and prescription medicines, if needed on the trail, must be packed, together with good enough food and water.
Can I hike alone?
Yes. Ms. Davis says mountain climbing alone allows her instincts to come back alive and that she feels safer because she’s quicker to take heed to her intuition and fear. “The one thing I do caution to solo hikers and solo female hikers, the closer you might be to towns or roads, the more aware you’ve to be of your surroundings and other people,” she said. “When I’m going solo, I don’t disclose a number of information to people I don’t know.”
But do share your information with park officials, if you happen to can. “Check in with the ranger station and allow them to know, I’m a lady out mountain climbing solo, or I’m an individual of color mountain climbing solo and I’m fearful about it, or I’m trans,” Ms. Van Waes said. “Unfortunately, there are plenty of vulnerable identities on the trail.”
What if I encounter violence?
Create space as soon as possible. “The most effective thing you may do is put yourself in a safer situation and get help,” Ms. Davis said. “You should get yourself and your group, if you happen to’re with a bunch, to a secure place after which reach out for help and report the incident as soon as possible.”
What if I wander off?
Don’t panic. Remember the error isn’t getting lost, but the way you reply to being off beam, Ms. Davis said, adding, “Don’t immediately rush within the direction where you think that the ‘right’ trail is.” As a substitute, take time to regain your composure and make the perfect plan possible.
When finding herself in an unintended location, Ms. Davis said she follows a brief routine. “I at all times prefer to take a deep breath, sit down, eat a snack, drink water, after which pull out all of my available navigation tools: guidebook, map, compass, GPS, etc.,” she said. “I ask myself where and after I last remember being on the suitable trail, after which I take advantage of my available resources to make a plan to backtrack to that location.”
Severe weather has interrupted my hike. Now what?
Be willing to adapt your plans. If there’s lightning, avoid standing under a tree. “You should attempt to get right into a low spot, like a gully somewhere and wait it out,” Ms. Van Waes said, or take shelter under a rock. Heavy rain may wash out trails and cause streams to flood, she said. Mountaineering poles might be useful in those situations.
When extreme heat is predicted, take heed to your body. If mountain climbing with a bunch, Ms. Davis suggests sending someone who’s feeling OK and has enough water to go get more. Sit in a close-by stream if you happen to begin to feel overheated, she said. “If not, not less than sit within the shade until someone can go get help. For those who’re mountain climbing alone, bring lots and plenty of water.” She recommends carrying one liter of water per two hours of mountain climbing and, in extreme heat, increasing that quantity to at least one and a half liters. “We also encourage people to pack a couple of extra salty snacks in order that their sodium and hydration levels might be replenished and stay balanced,” Ms. Davis said.
How should I keep away from animals?
Avoid being on the trail at dawn or dusk. “It doesn’t mean you may’t encounter animals at another time, but they’re most lively at those times and you may’t see them as well,” Ms. Van Waes said.
Having a bell in your backpack and talking amongst your group or singing aloud, if you happen to’re alone, are also useful. “Often you might be high-quality so long as you haven’t scared them, startled them or come between a momma and her babies,” she said. “In the event that they know you’re coming, they will sort of get out of your way.”