If you are out hitting the trails this season, here are some tips from the Washington Trails Association and the Providence St. Mary Hiking Club to help you stay safe.
Have a plan
Whether you’re on a planned hike or just taking quick walk along a trail, tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. It’s always a good idea to hike with a buddy, too. Be sure to pay attention to your surroundings. Landmarks are a great way to mark your trail and ensure a safe return. When you are going to an unfamiliar area, take a map. A compass is helpful if you know how to use it. If you hike in areas with cell coverage, explore some of the breadcrumb apps that are available for smartphones. They can help you find your way back to your vehicle.
Dress for the weather
Dress in layers and be prepared for weather changes. Wearing wool hiking socks will help you avoid blisters. Choose sturdy shoes appropriate for hiking. During hunting season, wear bright orange. Your safest option is to choose hikes were hunting is not permitted.
Pack enough water
In our hot, dry area, one of the most common mistakes that people make is not taking enough water on a summer hike. Take more than you think you will need.
Know your limits
Poor conditioning and bad judgment can lead to injury – or worse. Pay attention to how far you’ve gone and the amount of time you’ll need to return. Be aware of changing weather and time until sunset. Even in summer, evenings can be cold in the mountains.
Know the hazards and leave wildlife alone
t’s always wise to research a trail before you hike it, and to have an understanding of what hazards it may present, such rattlesnakes, bears or cougars. Leave the wildlife alone. Getting closer might yield a better photograph to show your friends, but it isn’t worth the risk you are taking.
Know what to do when things go wrong
Hike with friends when possible, and stay with your group. If you get lost or separated from your group, stay put and wait for help to arrive. Don’t wander. Whistles, mirrors and cell phones are great tools to help searchers find you.
More tips on safety and what to pack for a hike are available from the Washington Trails Association website and the US Forest Service