Lots of people don’t hike alone as they worry that they may hurt themselves or get lost. While these scenarios are certainly possible, they are not likely—especially if you prepare in advance.
Hiking alone may seem like a scary prospect, but in reality there are lots of advantages to solo hiking. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to and you can go at your own pace; if you want to stop to take pictures of a waterfall, you can. If you want to take a break to sit down and have some water, you can. If you want to power ahead, you can!
If you think hiking alone might be for you, here are six tips to make sure you stay safe.
CHOOSE A POPULAR TRAIL
It sounds counter-productive, but choosing a popular trail is always a better bet. This is because popular trails are normally better maintained and safer so you are less likely to fall or injure yourself. It also means that you are much more likely to run into other hikers, so if you do find yourself needing help you should have no trouble finding it.
You may usually prefer quieter trails, as you are less likely to encounter other people, but in reality the other hikers probably won’t want to stop and chat anyway; they will just want to keep hiking, so you will be able to enjoy your alone time!
HIKE SOMEWHERE YOU KNOW WELL
If you are hiking alone for the first time, you should plan a hike in an area that you know well. For instance you could hike locally, or you could visit a hiking path that you have travelled before. This is because you will know more about the wild animals and poisonous plants in the area.
Don’t worry that the hike will be boring or repetitive; the world always looks and feels different when you are on your own.
DROP BY THE RANGER STATION
If you pass by the ranger station on your hike, make sure to drop in to say “hi.” Tell the rangers your name and let them know that you will be hiking alone today. Tell them how long you expect to be hiking for, and tell them that you will drop by on your way back.
This means that the rangers will know that you are missing if you don’t come back, so they will head out to look for you. This essential safety move could save your life if you are injured or hurt. It also means that the rangers can let you know if any paths should be avoided due to recent rain or snowfall.
TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING
Let a friend or a family member know about your hiking plans and what time you should be arriving home. Tell them that you will call them when you are back, just in case something happens to you while you are hiking (and don’t forget to actually ring them—otherwise they might worry). Make sure that you don’t change hiking trails at the last moment without letting your friend know; if you don’t and you injure yourself, they may not be able to find you.
PACK A RANGE OF SUPPLIES
Always take a thick jumper, some food, some water, a map, and a first aid kit with you when you are hiking so that you are prepared for anything. You may also need to bring seasonal items, such as a peaked cap or a waterproof coat. If you don’t own a pair of quality hiking shoes, you might want to get some.
CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST BEFORE YOU SET OFF
Simply looking out of the window before setting off for a hike isn’t enough. The weather could change within a matter of minutes, which can be very dangerous. If you think that you are going for a hike in the sun but it starts to snow after an hour, you are putting yourself at risk of hypothermia and pneumonia. Check the weather forecast online to see predictions for later in the day or week. This way you will be able to pack the right kind of clothes for the weather.
You should also keep your eye on other hikers that you pass. If you notice that they are all wearing raincoats and heading to their cars, the weather may be about to get much worse