How to hike safely

May 8, 2018

Derek Lee

dlee2@uccs.edu

With Pulpit Rock, Garden of the Gods, the Manitou Incline, and the Barr Trail all within driving distance, there are plenty of great places to hike in Colorado Springs.

    With easier access to hiking locations, it’s important for people–especially beginning hikers–to be safe while hiking.

    Weather is one of the main factors to consider before embarking on a hike. A trail can be extremely different on a bright, sunny day compared to a wet, snowy day. It’s important to check the weather ahead of time in order to prepare yourself for what could be to come.

    Before you set out on your hike, always make sure that someone else knows where you’re planning to go for the day and for how long, in the event of an emergency. That way, if something does indeed happen, whoever you tell will know your general whereabouts and be able to direct emergency services to your location.

    Also, try to find a friend or someone that you can hike with. Hiking alone is not recommended and having company can also be helpful in the event of an emergency.

    Regardless of weather, make sure to bring plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated. Snacks such as fruit, granola, trail mix, and beef jerky are recommended, as they provide you with high energy. Don’t drink any alcohol or soda beforehand, as those drinks will dehydrate you rather than hydrating..

    Be sure to have shoes with tread and good ankle support. Shoes with little to no tread may cause you to slip and result in injury. Stepping awkwardly while hiking in shoes with bad ankle support can also lead to injury.

    If you can, try to bring a first aid kit with you. Having a flashlight or a headlamp on hand is helpful in case you end up hiking later than expected.

    If you’re planning to hike on a bright, sunny day, bring a hat and a pair of sunglasses to shield your head and eyes from the glare of the sun.

If it’s forecasted to rain or snow, be sure that you’re well dressed in 2-3 layers of clothing, including 2 pairs of wool socks. Avoid cotton as the material absorbs water quickly and easily.

    Packing an extra set of clothing is also recommended in the event that the clothes you’re wearing get wet. Wet clothing sucks the heat from your body a lot faster and remaining in wet clothing can lead to hypothermia.

    Use extreme caution when hiking in the snow. Trails can become icy and even shoes with the best tread may not be able to grip onto the slick surface.

    Lastly, do not engage with wildlife of any kind. Most injuries occur when people get too close to take photographs. The last thing you want to do is get hurt simply because you wanted a cool photo of a wild animal.

    For more information on how to hike safely, visit rockymountainhikingtrails.com.

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