With the temperatures rising and the days getting longer, many people are looking to spend more time outdoors. What better way to enjoy the warm weather and get some exercise than to hit the trails? In fact, researchers have found that spending time in local or national parks can help us cope with stress and recover from illness or injury. If you and your loved ones decide to go hiking this spring, be sure to avoid these 5 common hiking mistakes and keep yourselves safe:
- Choosing the wrong trail
New hikers may overestimate their stamina when selecting a hiking trail. Alternatively, experienced hikers may accidentally choose an easy path and quickly become bored. Hiking trails are usually ranked by difficulty on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 and 2 representing low risks of danger and 5 representing rock climbing. Keep this in mind when selecting your next outing!
- Under packing/Over packing
If you’re headed out for a quick afternoon hike, chances are you don’t need to pack a ton of equipment. If you’re planning a full-day outing, be sure to bring a map, compass, water, snacks, a first aid kit, a rain jacket and a flashlight.
- Being unable to read a map
Being able to read a map is essential when going on a long hike. Many hikers try to make the map fit the terrain around them, rather than admitting they may have made a wrong turn and need to go back. Be sure to constantly assess your placement on a map while hiking. If you haven’t hit an upcoming landmark in 20-30 minutes, chances are you’re in the wrong spot.
- Getting distracted by views
Instead of taking in awe-inspiring mountain or river views while continuing to hike, experts suggest taking a quick “photo break.” Find a safe spot to stop, set down all your equipment and take all the time you need to soak up the scenery. Not keeping your eyes on the trail or what lies ahead could result in an accident and even injury.
- Racing down hills
Giving in to momentum when making your way back down a mountain can be dangerous! You may start moving so fast that you lose control, resulting in a fall or accident. Be sure to move at your normal pace, giving others headed up the mountain the right of way.
Following these tips will ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking season. Happy trails!