10 Rules For Mountain Hiking

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hiking a trail can be a fun and exciting adventure especially if you are the outdoorsy type.  Even then hiking expedition requires careful planning and preparation to make it a success.

I. Physical Fitness

Hiking is a physically demanding experience. That’s why you shouldn’t attempt it if you are in horrible physical shape. Take up short periods of exercise every day for the last two weeks before a major expedition. You will need a doctor’s advice if you have pre-existing conditions. Depending on the length of the hike and the intensity you might want to get a training instructor to guide you through the exercises. Alternatively, you can get the instructor to give you an exercise regimen that will best prepare you.

II. Navigation Planning

You have to be very careful in planning the trail that you will follow. How long is the trail? Where are the steep climbing areas? What are the differences in attitude along the hiking trail? Make sure you have access to the most recent and accurate description of the trail. Never assume that you can always rely on the old trails if it isn’t your first time. Trails get rerouted, and some get closed during a certain season of the year.

III. Proper Gear

For successful hiking, having a proper mountaineering kit is critical. Proper hiking clothes, rain gear, quality boots, gloves, sunglasses as well as elbow and knee pads might prove necessary along the way. You also have to carry a well-equipped first aid box, enough food and drinks as well as an updated map of the area. You can also enquire from the local authorities if there are any special items needed like ropes, hooks, vaccination or skin creams.

IV. Check Weather Forecasts

Before leaving for the trail check the weather and avalanche reports in the area. You also need to check the temperature and snow reports if it’s a snowy hike. Make sure you keep abreast of the weather forecast every one to two hours to monitor for any extreme changes in weather patterns. Most of these weather changes can be accessed through weather apps for local weather stations or local news outlets. Mountain weather sometimes changes within a matter of minutes and could spell doom for you.

V. Inform Someone

Make sure you have informed someone about your hike, how long you expect to be there and the route that you will follow. Also, notify them when you plan on calling them back after the hike so that they can expect to hear from you. Additionally, inform the local authorities including the local police or conversancy staff when you start your hike. That would help you to get rescued sooner in case you go missing for more than two hours after the agreed time of the call.

VI. Choose Hiking Time

Depending on the length of the hike, the kind of routes used and the local hiking rules it is best advised to start your hike very early, preferably before dawn. This will ensure that you get to cover as much distance as possible before the scorching sun catches up with you. It will also ensure that you get at the peak soon enough and get back to base camp before dusk. In the event that you are still miles away from the base camp and the dusk is approaching, it is recommended that you make phone calls and inform your next of kin and local authorities.

VII. Hiking Companions

Never hike alone. There are so many issues that could go wrong on a typical hike, and you will need someone to help you out. You could fall and hurt yourself or encounter wild game. When it comes to hiking, there is strength in numbers. Sometimes the motivation from companions is what you need to complete the trail. Make sure that your hiking partners are also in good shape and choose the pace and trails that will fit with the weakest hiker in the group.

VIII. Overexertion

Most trails are miles long. The problem is that the excitement might make you want to rush through the first few miles. The risk is that you might get to the peak too exhausted to make it back down. That is beside the increased risk of fatigue and failure to complete the trail. Choosing a proper pace is such a critical part of successful hiking expedition. You want to pace yourself well enough to finish on time and make it back without spending too much energy at the first few miles.

IX. Stick To Hiking Trails

Never leave the signposted hiking trails and walking routes. Especially if the area has wild animals, dangerous cliffs, loose rocks or snowy paths. The marked routes are usually the safest trails on the region and the temptations to take shorter direction and leave the trail path are often tempting. Once you leave your trail, you may violate your travel insurance regulation, and you even carry the risk of tumbling down to your death.

X. Keep a Light Eco-print

Respect nature and it will respect you. This means don’t throw garbage carelessly. Some of those garbage items will become an eyesore, and they might also get washed down to water sources or be swallowed by wild game. Use designated washroom areas on the paths or carry your own toilet bags. Respect other hikers along the way and in the spirit of real mountaineering help others along the way as long as it is not at the risk of your life.

François Dumaine photo


François Dumaine

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