As the country slowly begins to open up, you may be getting excited about your next hike. While you are waiting to begin your next adventure, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you are fully prepared for your first post-pandemic hike.
1. Choose A Trail Appropriate For Your Fitness Level
Keep in mind that your fitness level may have changed since the beginning of quarantine. Hiking requires balance, strength, and endurance. Jumping right into a difficult hike after months off can lead to injury or exhaustion. Luckily, there are some exercises you can do at home to stay fit and build strength for your first post-quarantine hike. Although these exercises will help, do not let them lure you into a false sense of security. Start with a day hike to gauge your ability before jumping into a multi-day hike, where it may be difficult to get help if you suddenly find yourself unable to finish.
2. Mind The Heat
As states begin to roll out reopening plans, it appears that most of the US will begin to reopen during the summer. While summer is a great time to hike, it comes with its risks. You will have to watch out for the symptoms of heat stroke and do your best to keep cool in the sun. To prevent heatstroke, you should wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and keep out of the sun when possible.
Perhaps most importantly, drink plenty of water and make sure you always have water available. It is easy to get dehydrated while you are participating in physical activity. Having a high-quality water filter handy is a good way to make sure you never run out of water. Even if you typically carry all your water with you, having a water filter available will prevent you from a potential emergency in case you spill your water, get lost, or meet another hiker in need of assistance.
3. Put Your Phone To Use
Every hiker knows the importance of a cell phone. It can help you contact emergency services, keep in touch with your loved ones, and document your journey. Since you will already have your phone on you, you should try downloading a few hiking apps to augment your experience. The typical GPS apps included with your phone do not have detailed the topographical information or safety features offered in hiking apps.
4. Check The Weather
Make sure to check the weather before you start hiking and make a plan for bad weather. Getting caught in a rainstorm might not be a problem if you are on a relatively level trail but on a trail covered in slippery rocks, rain is a danger. You should also find a weather service with accurate lightning tracking and prediction. If you are caught in a lightning storm you will have to halt your hike, find a safe place to ride out the storm and keep away from any metals. Getting caught in lightning is unpleasant and stressful, even for the most experienced hiker.
5. Restock Your First Aid Kit
You should make sure that your first aid kit is fully stocked, and all of the supplies are usable. You should throw out and replace partially used or contaminated products. Some first aid supplies, like antibiotic ointments or wipes, expire, so you will need to check that they have not expired during quarantine. This is also a good time to ensure that you have ample supplies of your prescription medicine and personal supplies.
6. Prepare Your Food Supplies
Because hiking is so energy-intensive, it is important to make sure you have enough nutritious foods. Your first hike is a chance to put all the cooking skills you’ve learned in quarantine to use. You can even try making your own dehydrated food to ensure that you have a large supply of tasty, long-lasting, calorie-dense food for your journey. You might even find that you can use some of your newfound cooking skills at your campsite.
7. Leave Your Itinerary With Someone You Trust
If you are seriously lost during a hike, you want someone to know that you are lost. Cell coverage is inconsistent on hiking trails. On some trails, you can expect to have little cell coverage throughout the most treacherous part of your hike. Give a trusted friend or family member your hiking plan and arrange to check in with them sometime during your hike.
8. Travel Light
Quarantine is a good time for you to go through your hiking gear and take out the non-essentials. You can make sure that you haven’t inadvertently left anything in your hiking pack that you do not need. It is also a time to reflect on your hiking needs and perform a deep clean of all of your gear.
It is frustrating to have lost so many opportunities to hike; especially, since much of America has been stuck inside for so long. Hopefully, you can use some of this time to enhance your hiking experience and prepare for a wonderful summer hiking season.