The Good Hiker’s Decalogue

good-hiker-rulesHiking is very easy and is within everyone’s reach. However, this does not mean that it’s as easy as walking down a path. However simple hiking may be, it’s necessary to take minimal precautions that will prevent possible problems. I have selected 10 basic tips to enjoy our hikes outdoors safely.

1. Choose carefully

Besides the usual difficulties and effort to hike, keep in mind ambient conditions (presence of snow, ice, etc) and take into account the weather forecast (snow, wind, fog, etc) for the entire duration of the trip.

2. Know your limits

Know your own limitations, both physical and mental, and act accordingly, calculating with objectivity and realism the route and schedules to follow. It is preferable to plan less than more, thus never reaching your limit. This will prevent to undertake an activity that will exceed you, putting your integrity at risk, as well as of those who accompany you and, at the extreme, that of the rescuers. Dose your energy so it lasts throughout the day. A hike does not end until you return to your car or home.

3. Do not go alone

Even if it’s a short hike, never go alone. Communicate to someone before leaving your planned route and schedule. In case of accident, do not leave the wounded behind unless by extreme necessity and with the greatest guarantees: assessing their condition with great accuracy, leaving them well anchored in place so they will not fall or move, and with plenty of water and warm clothes.

4. Take the right clothes

Always carry appropriate clothing. Light and comfortable clothing. Put yourself always in the worst of scenarios, although the weather forecast is good; on the mountain weather changes radically in just a few hours. You always have to bring a raincoat, even in the hottest days of the summer. As a rule, always have sunglasses, hat, cap and gloves, and in winter add the gaiters (gaiters to keep out the snow in our boots). Pay special attention with shoes and socks.

5. Leave out unnecessary things

Pack with . Leave in everything you might need, but don’t carry useless things. They are essential to a thermal blanket and a basic first aid kit that includes blister band aids, paracetamol, eye drops, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic medicines.

6. Take the right food

Do not take excessive amounts of food. It should be easy to digest, energy-giving and of light weight. Energy bars and gels, dried fruit, chocolate and carbohydrate-rich products are recommended. Heavy food will cause you digestive problems and you’ll lose much time eating it.

7. Carry water in abundance

Carry a water bottle of minimum 1 liter. It needs to go in the backpack in upright position. Check that it is perfectly closed, so it does not wet the equipment you wear. Avoid drinking water from streams. Drink every 20 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty, this will prevent dehidration and physical issues like exhaustion and cramps.

8. A mobile phone is essential

Take a fully charged cell phone, and a replacement battery. Record an emergency number. Make sure that it will not get wet during the excursion. WhatsApp today is the first tool for location and rescue of people lost and injured on the mountain and outdoors. Having a mobile phone and the consequent security of our geolocation should not prompt us to undertake activities that we would not do without this tool.

9. Respect the natural environment

Leave nature as you would like to find it. Do not leave any residue behind and, if you can, take the rubbish you find. Do not take anything from nature (animals such as insects, vegetables such as flowers, fruits and mosses; rocks and shells).

10. Respect local people

Respect the local customs of the places you visit. Don’t make noise, follow the roads, don’t walk through fields, etc.

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