Do you ever make mistakes that are the difference between life and death?
If you hike, it is 88% possible! (I totally made up that Number)
This article, mentions that the majority of people requiring rescue during hikes aren’t those deep in the back country. It’s day hikers. Day hikers are less likely to be prepared for adverse events, whether getting lost or bad weather.
I’’ll go through the top six hiker mistakes. Hopefully it’ll help you avoid a horrible situation.
1. Knowledge of area (or lack there of)
Imagine traveling 500 miles to a park you’ve never been to in a state you’ve never been. Now just head out for a hike. Crazy? I must admit I’ve done this. I didn’t know how long the trail was, my phone barely had service -AND I still left it in the car, and no water. I should have known the length of the trail, if there are known predators (bears or cougars), dangerous plants that I don’t know ie poison ivy vs poison sumac.
At one point, I was certain I had gotten off trial and was lost. The trail had been obvious until I came to a open area with gravel. Once I past this, there was tall grass that didn’t appear to have a trail. PANIC! But then, I could just barely make out a sign at the bottom of the hill of tall grass. Whew! I got lucky that time but it scared me enough that now I over prepare for just about every hike (just ask my husband). This is prime example of a hiking mistake. The worst part? I wasn’t even new to hiking! I knew better, I just, I just….I don’t know. Stupidity.
2. Lack of food and water.
Many people head out for a hike without any water or food cause it’ll only take an hour or two. But what happens if you get injured or lost? Is being hungry or thirsty going to help you in this situation? I think not. Even if it’s a trail I’ve done in under an hour many times, I tend to take a lot of water. Growing up in the southeast, water is fairly abundant but running out tends to be one of my greatest fears. So my husband makes fun every time I head out for a 2 mile hike with a pack including 2 water bottles and a water purifier.
Maybe that’s my mistake?
I tend to overpack.
Common hiker mistake number 3 is over or under packing.
Most people I see on trails tend more to the UNDER packing. I’ve been on some hikes where people just have a water bottle. This hike was 7 miles. One water bottle!?! I lean to overpacking which if I ever get around to doing overnight hikes, may be cause me HUGE trouble. But for now, as a day hiker, I’m fine with being a bit overboard.
Decide to go for a hike at 6 pm? Can you finish before dark? Did you check the weather? For all you know it’s coming a rain storm in 2 hours so you’ll just end up unprepared. Severe weather quickly turns a nice jaunt into a horrific ordeal.
5. This one is HUGE- clothing
NO you do not have to wear expensive hiking clothes but please please please don’t wear cotton! Synthetic fabrics wick moisture away and are less likely to rub you wrong and cause blisters. No BLUE JEANS! They get wet and heavy and rub all kind of wrong.
Also, footwear. Boots aren’t necessary but real shoes are! I cannot tell you the times I’ve sen people hiking in flip-flops. FLIP FLOPS! Thats just asking for trouble. Regular tennis shoes should work just fine but you certainly need a sturdy non slippery base. Hats along with gloves and raingear are also items to consider. If you’ve checked the weather you should know what will be needed.
Most people get in trouble because they get lost and end up having to stay the night outdoors. So if it’s hot during the day, you sweat. But in the desert the temperature can plummet once the sun goes down. Those sweaty clothes can be real trouble in near freezing temps. Even if it’s cold during the day, you need more insulation to survive the night.
Granted most people don’t do 5 mile+ hikes on a whim but ya never know.
6. Overestimating ability
I’m guilty of this one recently. Thinking you can go further, faster than you actually can. I was sure we could do both trails on our weekend hike. Technically we could have but if we weren’t on a loop trail, we may have been in trouble. Elevation changes affect me much more than think they will. I don’t hike a ton of hilly terrain so I seem to underestimate the challenge.
SO which of these hiker mistakes are you guilty of??
At some point, I’ve made all the hiker mistakes. But Knowledge is power.
Stay safe out there.
Do as I say and not as I’ve done. Prepare before your hike and help prevent your own disfigurement or death.