Now that the weather is nice, you might be tempted to take a hike. A reinvigorating hike in the great outdoors is a great way to get in touch with Mother Nature. Hiking encompasses everything from taking a quick walk in the woods to climbing major mountains with a 40-pound pack.
Regardless of distance, the best strategy to have fun and stay safe in the woods is to plan and prepare in advance of any amble. Read on for tips on getting started and making any adventure go smoothly.
1. Have a plan. And don’t keep it to yourself. Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. If you’re hiking with a group, decide where you’re going to meet if you get separated. This could be back at the trailhead, at the car or at a big rock.
2. Dress for success. Wear clothing and footwear appropriate for the terrain and season. If ticks are running rampant, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and shoes-not sandals. Use insect repellent that includes the ingredient DEET.
Bringing the kids along? Be sure to dress them in bright colors so they can be easily seen.
3. Educate yourself. If poison oak, sumac or ivy grow where you’ll be hiking, learn how to recognize them so you can avoid them-and the nasty, itchy rashes they can give you.
4. Pack appropriately. Bring water, food, a cellphone, a map or compass, a whistle, a headlamp, and a flashlight.
5. Choose wisely. Hike on an established trail, and stay out of areas declared off limits to hikers.
American College of Emergency Physicians; National Park Service; Recreation.gov