Hiking Alone Or In A Group? Be Safe!

“I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, I am mad for it to be in contact with me.”

-Walt Whitman

In a reply to one of my last posts regarding hydrating, Barb Knowles of Saneteachers.com (a friend and colleague) asked if I could write a post about hiking/walking alone against being in a group. I added to that some simple things that you should do to help make sure that you come back home safe.

Over the last week I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this very subject. In my last post I told you about an incident last Thursday that led to me being in the hospital for six days. Thankfully I was hiking with friends but I have kept thinking, “What if I had been alone?” Would I have been  able get the help I needed?

Now that I am older, I tend to be a much more careful hiker than I was in the past. Twenty years ago, I would head out into the woods for hours at a time, alone and a times without a map. At times I would stay on the trail, others not. The point being I didn’t really pay much attention to what I was doing. I just did it!

Hiking Alone:

I love hiking alone. Some people don’t, but I like the time that I get to be in the woods and think things out. With that said, I now take precautions to make sure that if anything happens to me, it won’t be hard to find me. I don’t want it to get to the point where you would just look for the buzzards circling a set area. Here is a list of what I do:

  1. Leave an itinerary: This may seem obvious, but leaving a detailed route of where you will be hiking is imperative. Don’t forget to write down where you will be parking your car. The most important thing about having an itinerary is following it. If you decide to veer off the trail to see that extra view and something happens, that will just delay rescuers.
  2. Bring a MAP of where you will be hiking. If you have a GPS, include that as well.
  3. Make sure you have enough water. even if you are only going out for a couple of hours. BRING WATER! You never know when a couple of hours could turn into a half of a day or longer.
  4. Bring snacks/food. The amount/type of course depends on how long your hike is. Going out all day? Bring a sandwich. A short hike? Maybe an energy bar or some GORP (good old raisins and peanuts).
  5. First aid kit/Electronics/Extra laces/Extra shirt-Any other items that will make your hike that more enjoyable should be included.
  6. And of course last but not least-Your cell phone…

Hiking In A Group:

Hiking in a group, with either 2 other people or 20 presents its own unique set of challenges. I would still include all of stuff from the Solo Hike but other things will need to be adjusted. When you hike with a group, your pace will be at the mercy of the group. When you hike with a group, when you take breaks will be at the mercy of the group. You give up a certain amount of  the solitude and individualism that I cherish and this may affect the total distance you hike and the time it will take you. Some people, however, like the social aspect of hiking and don’t mind group excursions. It’s all up to you!

The bottom line is this. Whether you like to hike alone or in groups, it is really important to make sure that you let someone know where you are going to be. Be prepared!

If after reading this you believe that I have missed anything, please let me know in the form of a comment. Thanks!

Happy Hiking!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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