As summer sets in, more people are escaping the heat to walk, hike or ride bikes in the local foothills. All of these activities are great exercise and a good way to explore nature. You can even take a buddy along, both to enjoy the time together and help keep each other safe.
Even so, you should be prepared in case of an accident or emergency.
Some basics to get you going
If it’s your first ride or hike of the season, you’ll want to pick a short and easy route and avoid the midday sun.
Tell someone you trust who’s not going with you where you’re going and when you plan to return. Be as detailed as possible when telling them your starting and ending points. If plans change, or you face any delays, let this person know. Make sure they know to call 9-1-1 if you don’t arrive home as expected.
Prepare now to stay safe later
Here are some tips to be sure you can stay as safe as possible.
Pack what you’ll need for your trip – For longer trips, pack enough water for the day and ready-to-eat snacks (like dried fruits and nuts). If it’s a sunny trail, be sure to use sunscreen and reapply often if you’re sweating. Also, use insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs.
Research your trail – There are many books and pamphlets on our local trails or you can research most local trails online. These resources will tell you the trail length and elevation changes. A trail that goes up 1,000 feet or so would be much more challenging than a fairly flat trail. Once you’ve picked a trail, take a screenshot of the map and any other directions provided (like where to park). You’ll want to pay special attention to any intersecting trails or forks. These side paths can become confusing when you’re out, and a wrong turn could put you on a trail that’s longer and tougher than you’d intended.
Know what to do if you’re lost – If you think you’ve gone the wrong way, stop, stay calm and stay put. Check the map on your phone. Look around for signage and landmarks to get your bearings. If another hiker comes along, ask for directions. If you are lost, call the state police.
Responsibly enjoying the outdoors
A walk in the woods or around a lake can be a refreshing way to spend the day. But remember to take your trash out with you. This might include empty containers or wrappers. You should also refrain from picking up “souvenirs” like pine cones or small plants.
With a few precautions you can enjoy the great outdoors this year, and for many years to come.
Please watch our video for more tips to prepare for your first hike.