Showing posts with label 10 tips for solo hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 10 tips for solo hiking. Show all posts

Saturday, March 4, 2017

10 Tips for Staying Safe While Solo Hiking



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If I had to wait to hike until I found somebody to go with, I would never end up on the trail. Besides for an introvert, hiking solo is truly a piece of heaven. 

Before I get started with safety tips, for ultimate safety, it's always best to hike with a buddy. 

Pack plenty of water: I have a friend who volunteers with our local search and rescue. He told me they do more rescues for people who have become dehydrated on the trail than for any other reason. One bottle is not enough and sometimes I don't know I'm getting dehydrated until it's too late. I recommend a 1.5 to 2 liter hydration pack for a three hour day hike under normal circumstances. In very hot weather, pack even more. You can never have too much. It's easier to dump water toward the end of the hike than finding it. I also recommend some type of electrolyte replacement. 

Know the area: I have a large amount of hiking trails close to home. I know the area well and know that I can often get cell phone service depending on how close I stay to the valley. Venturing deep into the backcountry far from familiar areas is not a good idea.


Choose a well marked trail and heavily traveled trail: Where I hike, any trail with a trailhead sign is usually easy to follow. Also, the marked trails are popular enough that even on a weekday, I always see other people. I know even if I get hurt on one of these trails, I won't have to wait long before somebody comes by.        


©Trudy Zufelt

Stay on the trail:

It's hard to get lost if you stay on an obvious trail. But I've known people taking longer than they anticipated on a hike and veering off the trail into what they think is a short cut. Even a smaller trail might not lead to where you think it does. My son did this once in winter and ended up running into a group of lost teens. If my husband and daughter hadn't gone after him, I don't even want to think of what could have happened.




Tell somebody where you plan to hike: I always text my husband or daughter my my planned hiking trail for the day. Even if they forget where I tell them, they can look back at their texts if I don't return home.


©Trudy Zufelt
Stay away from the wildlife

This is especially important for visiting tourists. I have a friend who works summers at a local ski resort. She told me stories of tourists who try to approach the moose. I have encountered moose many times hiking and know I need to stay far away. And yes, I was far away when I took my photo of the two moose. These animals aren't as harmless as they look. A moose will charge when it feels threatened and if you're alone, you probably won't make it off the trail.




Just last summer, I nearly stepped on what looked like a harmless garter snake. After I jumped out of the way and watched it scurry off, I was able to get a photo from a distance. To my surprise, when I cropped the photo, I discovered it wasn't a harmless snake but a poisonous baby rattle snake. These can be even more deadly than a fully grown rattlesnake and because their rattles haven't developed, they don't leave a "verbal" warning. That is why I would never bend down and try to pick up a snake.


Pack extra gear and clothing:
At a minimum, I carry an extra jacket, a small pair of gloves, an extra pair of socks in all seasons. The weather may abruptly change. I've been caught in unexpected thunderstorms more than once and have always been grateful for dry clothes. As far as gear, I always keep my microspikes in my bag during winter hikes or carry a hiking pole. It's always a good idea to carry a multi-tool knife and a set of waterproof matches in case I get stuck overnight.

Pack extra food: I like to carry enough bars or other food so if I get stuck on the trail overnight, I will have enough calories to sustain myself until I can get help.

Carry a cell phone AND a charger: Even if you hike a trail with no cell phone service, it still helps to carry a cell phone. Many of the trails I hike have cell phone service in spots. However, it doesn't do  any good if your battery dies. I carry a small solar charger that I fully charge before I leave, That way, I have a back up if my battery dies and a way to charge the charger again.



Know your limits: That fourteen mile round trip hike to Mt. Timpanogos sounds amazing but if the most I've ever hiked is five miles, I save the longer hike for a day when I can bring someone with. It also might be tempting to hike that peak on a snowy day but I make sure I'm capable of getting up and back before dark.





©Trudy Zufelt

This world is amazing. Don't miss it waiting for others. It's okay to explore on your own but please play it safe.