What if I get lost?
Don’t panic. Remember the mistake isn’t getting lost, but how you respond to being off course, Ms. Davis said, adding, “Do not immediately rush in the direction where you think the ‘right’ trail is.” Instead, take time to regain your composure and make the best plan possible.
When finding herself in an unintended location, Ms. Davis said she follows a short routine. “I always like to take a deep breath, sit down, eat a snack, drink water, and then pull out all of my available navigation tools: guidebook, map, compass, GPS, etc.,” she said. “I ask myself where and when I last remember being on the right trail, and then I use my available resources to make a plan to backtrack to that location.”
Severe weather has interrupted my hike. Now what?
Be willing to adapt your plans. If there is lightning, avoid standing under a tree. “You want to try to get into a low spot, like a gully somewhere and wait it out,” Ms. Van Waes said, or take shelter under a rock. Heavy rain may wash out trails and cause streams to flood, she said. Hiking poles can be useful in those situations.
When extreme heat is predicted, listen to your body. If hiking with a group, Ms. Davis suggests sending someone who is feeling OK and has enough water to go get more. Sit in a nearby stream if you start to feel overheated, she said. “If not, at least sit in the shade until someone can go get help. If you’re hiking alone, bring lots and lots of water.” She recommends carrying one liter of water per two hours of hiking and, in extreme heat, increasing that amount to one and a half liters. “We also encourage people to pack a few extra salty snacks so that their sodium and hydration levels can be replenished and stay balanced,” Ms. Davis said.
How should I steer clear of animals?
Avoid being on the trail at dawn or dusk. “It doesn’t mean you can’t encounter animals at some other time, but they are most active at those times and you can’t see them as well,” Ms. Van Waes said.
Having a bell on your backpack and talking among your group or singing aloud, if you’re alone, are also useful. “Usually you are fine as long as you haven’t scared them, startled them or come between a momma and her babies,” she said. “If they know you’re coming, they can kind of get out of your way.”