We all have our personal perspectives on what we think is the way to go, with tons of free information that’s easily accessible at any given second – we can easily get strung along with the general do’s and don’ts that’s been compiled and accepted by society over the years. The truth is anyone can write something and make it accessible to the world but is it really practical to what we want to achieve while ‘playing outside’? I’ll speak about hiking, particularly single day, multiday may require more preparation.

Now, understand when negative incidents occur, it isn’t necessarily anyone in particular at fault, to be fair, how could you be doing something wrong that you didn’t know would contribute to the incident. The truth is, we don’t know what we don’t know and people just don’t usually consider every single detail and risk factor pertaining to every hiking day out, that’s just reality.

Let’s see if I can help you think slightly out of that box and more importantly give you some golden nuggets(that you won’t typically find online) resulting in you creating more positive, memorable, outdoor experiences.

– Firstly, know what you’re getting yourself into, you aren’t going to a party where you can easily find a way out if anything goes wrong. That means, doing 5 mins of research about the planned route. Keep it simple, check if there are water holes/rivers, how much elevation gain, whether there are technical bits along the way, whatever you can find really.

– Don’t just take your friend’s advice unless they are experienced enough. Ask questions on relevant social media platforms/pages, rather deal with the insecurity of being judged for asking than not having any idea. Besides, mountain people are usually friendly and happy to help.

– Start hydrating yourself 1 or 2 days prior to the hike and obviously take lots of water, rather have and not need, then need and not have. If it’s a long hike in the heat, 2 liters should be enough, unless you know what you usually need out there. Again, this depends on the planned route and potential duration. No plan? At least 1.5 liters then.

– Check the weather, try and be specific to the location. The overall weather in an entire city may not be the same at the location you plan to hike. Also, check the hourly forecast and look at details like precipitation, humidity percentage, cloud cover, and wind speed. It all counts when in the mountain.

– Taking proper sustenance, Chocolate, sweets, and Energade (energy drink to replenish electrolytes) can only keep you going for so long. A whole-wheat peanut-butter sandwich can save your life. 

– Start as early as possible and check drive time, a setback in start time could potentially contribute to being stuck in mid-afternoon unpleasantly scorching heat, a route where there are rock pools along the way or at the turnaround point is good for a not too early start. In summer, It gets super hot, super early, and some popular routes are completely dry. Not being properly prepared and starting in 20-degree weather at 7 am for a long trek is asking for trouble.

– Have the emergency number saved on your phone, life-saving time could go by if you play broken telephone to get to the people that can actually send qualified people to assist. Also, ensure your phone’s battery doesn’t die, no point in having a device you can’t use.

– Give a family member or friend info about what you plan to do and when to expect you to be safe off the mountain, they could relay that important info to emergency agencies if need be.

– When hiking, keep the group together as far as possible, more so where applicable, if the trail is simple/easy to follow then you can perhaps let down your guard a bit, It’s so easy for someone to take a different path as you did when they reach a fork and there’s no-one around. Don’t assume they will choose the same way you went. Also, it’s not nice and definitely not smart to leave one of the less experienced people to fend for themselves, especially if you invited them.

– Then all the other usual stuff comes to play like what to wear, this is always weather dependent but packing in a warm top that’s easy to carry usually comes in handy when unexpected weather arrives. Good hiking shoes are nice to have and could give you an advantage, but isn’t compulsory. Again, this depends on the conditions of the terrain/route.

– Sunscreen, sunglasses and a sunhat could make the world of difference and slow down the fatigue or heat exhaustion onset, but won’t necessarily save you.

– Also take things like personal medication(e.g. inhaler/allergex) and at least have 1 person in the group take some first aid equipment – plasters, a bandage, dressing, medical tape, and pain meds. You can add to it as you see fit.

– Share the load with the group, carrying a weight over time contributes to fatigue. Let the stronger/fitter ones carry a bit heavier perhaps, just figure it out. and remember… Teamwork makes the dream work.

Let me leave you with this. It’s hardly just one thing that could create a negative situation out there, but rather a number of reasons leading up to. Spending time in the mountain is incredible but a little bit of more consideration could make it even better and mitigate the risks associated. Lots of people think it’s a place they should never go to and that’s okay. But let’s not contribute to their beliefs with poor planning.

Let’s respect the mountain and the conditions that come with it, then experience the beauty it has to offer. For a safer, more fulfilling, summer experience.