Hiking and Safety, go hand in hand!
Of course, the above can be true in so many areas of life, however, when we are hiking or backpacking we find ourselves out in the elements.
Yes, beautiful trees of every size, lakes that are reflective of the surroundings, towering mountains, so awe-inspiring. Animals and the sounds they make are so wonderful!
In all this, we need to remember that the hospital or Doctors office is not nearby. While we enjoy all the things just mentioned, and even more, physical injury is possible.
With this in mind, I have decided to include safety tips for hiking. Just as we include all the essentials for our trip, please, take the time, before you leave, to read over these reminders.
May You have a safe and wonderful trip!
Safety tips for hiking
1- Hypothermia- after the fact-
Hypothermia is a realistic possibility when hiking or backpacking. I want to bring this condition to Your attention first, as it can be life threating. So, what is hypothermia? Rather than give you my own opinion I will give You the answer from an authoritative source of medical conditions. Just, click on the link. https://www.mayoclinic.org
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia (hi-poe-THUR-me-uh) occurs as your body temperature falls below 95 F (35 C).
Hypothermia is often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water. Primary treatments for hypothermia are methods to warm the body back to a normal temperature.
The above information is ” After the Fact ” but let us consider some things, that, if applied, may help prevent the condition of hypothermia, before it happens.
Suggestions if You are hiking, and/or backpacking in cold and damp weather conditions.
Wear, cold weather, waterproof or water resistant clothing, thereby avoiding getting wet in cold weather.
Wear, Wicking type undergarment and avoid material that absorbs water.
Wear, waterproof hiking boots.https://ldwebster.com/essentials-for-backpacking
Creek rocks can be slippery, so when crossing a creek, take extra care.
Tree roots that are above the ground can be helpful, for example, they may be of help
when ascending a hill, however, they can sometimes be a tripping hazard and especially when
we may be unaware of their presence.
I would like to mention that this is not meant to be an exhaustive list of safety tips, but some that I have used and benefited from, in that they have helped me to avoid dangers that otherwise could have been at the least a set back to my trip.
Clothing: Some materials are very comfortable, however when backpacking that same material, that we might often wear, can become dangerous because of its inability to repel water thereby holding the moisture against one’s body.
This, (under the right conditions) can lead to hypothermia.
Weather conditions can change quickly and turn into a downpour or a shower that could spoil the plans you had made if the right clothing isn’t readily available or worn.
Proper rain resistant and/or waterproof breathable clothing affords a much better outcome.
Depending on the climate or the weather conditions that you will be backpacking in, you may need to choose headgear for the occasion.
So this may be a waterproof/ water resistant cap and in the case of cold weather there are those that are fleece inside and water resistant outside that wrap around and fasten with Velcro under the chin.
This type not only helps keep your head warm and dry but also the sides of your face.
You may have heard that a large portion of our body heat escapes out of the head, while that is not entirely accurate, I think you will agree that having our head warm and dry goes a long way toward our well-being while hiking.
While there are many types of caps, hats, beanies etc., it is good to keep in mind the final weight of our backpack and of course, that would apply to other accessories and equipment that we might consider taking a long,
so think lightweight when you choose the items that you will be carrying, in relation to the weight, you will be glad you did.
What are some things we need to take into account when choosing Hiking boots or hiking shoes?
Give consideration when selecting your footgear, to the end of the day, when you are ready to give it a rest for the night.
Will your feet be the same size as when you started in the morning or would they have a degree of swelling?
Think seriously about the size. You may need to have a little room to compensate for swelling.
You may want to purchase, waterproof footgear.
If possible purchase your footgear well before taking an extended backpacking trip, and give it a test for a full day hike and this would allow the time needed to make changes if needed.
I would like to share an experience I once had, this was near Damascus, Virginia on the A.T. I had arrived late that day and needed to pitch my tent, it was looking like thunderstorms would start anytime,
so I found a spot that would hopefully block any wind that could come about due to the storm. I was glad I did pick that particular spot because there were thunderstorms and wind almost all night.
Although I had used a freestanding tent in the past and there are times when a freestanding tent is best, not on this night, I was happy the following morning that my tent was securely anchored to the ground and my rain flies in place.
It was not that I was such an experienced backpacker at the time, however being safety minded, I made sure that before I left home my backpack was as organized as possible and things were in a place that was accessible.
I also try to pack the same way every time in that way I can, by habit, remember where specific items are in case I need them in a hurry.
Choosing the right sleeping bag is of utmost importance. But let me qualify that statement, what I mean is, when hiking in cold weather or potential cold weather, At times the temperature can vary as much as 20- 30 degrees or more from daytime highs to nightly lows.
So as not to be caught off guard, choose a quality sleeping bag that is the temperature rating for the climate/weather conditions where you plan to hike.
I have mentioned the condition of hypothermia often and it’s not meant to scare anyone, however, it can be a real threat in cold weather if we’re not prepared.
BACKPACKING AND SAFETY
It can’t be overemphasized that safety in backpacking goes hand in hand. Why? We humans, for the most part, are not born out in the wilderness, so it’s essential for us to build in a measure of safety to our trek. I have highlighted some things that can help you have a memorable occasion as you make these safety tips a part of your trip. Have a safe and wonderful hike!