5 Hiking Dangers of Which You Should Be Aware
Hiking is one of the most fun things that you can do. It’s great exercise, and it gives you a chance to get out in nature and explore. You can see flora and fauna in their natural habitats.
Apart from that, being in nature is a great stress-reducer. We might not always realize it, but it’s a drain being around concrete and steel all the time. The peace we experience when out hiking is difficult to duplicate when human-made constructs surround us.
There are also some potential hiking dangers, though. Here are some of the more prominent ones.
When you go hiking, you should keep the following in mind:
- You’re probably in unfamiliar territory
- If you’re alone, there’s no one to go for help if you injure yourself
One thing that you always should watch out for is mine shafts. Abandoned mines are extremely dangerous, so if you see one, you shouldn’t explore it. Until you fall into it, though, you might not even see that it’s there.
You would hope that signage will mark an abandoned mine. However, before you go hiking, it’s smart to look at some area maps. Try to locate any old mines or other dangerous conditions so that you can be looking out for them.
If you’re hiking in hot weather, then dehydration is a serious issue. You can tell that you’re in danger if:
- You feel excessively thirsty
- Your head aches
- You feel dizzy or lightheaded
- You start hallucinating
You should try to drink about eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day, but on hot days when you’re out hiking, you should imbibe even more than that.
Bring water with you in a backpack or however else is convenient. You’re going to be out in nature, so you should not count on finding potable water. Bring some with you.
Depending on where you’re hiking, you’ll want to watch out for dangerous animals as well. In some parts of the country, bears are not uncommon. Elsewhere you might have pumas, coyotes, or wolves.
In many states, venomous snakes are also around. If one bites you, it could prove fatal if you can’t seek medical help fast enough.
Before you go hiking, find out what animals live in that region. Try to learn a little bit about what to do if you encounter one. You can also try to avoid the kinds of places where they live or spend their time.
Poison Oak and Ivy
Plants also exist that can harm you if you encounter them. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are also very painful if you rub up against them, and sometimes you find large patches of them.
Like with dangerous animals, try to learn about the local plant life before you hit the trail. If you don’t know what poison ivy or oak looks like, find pictures of them online or in a book. You can even take a flora field guide with you to reference as you travel.
You may also consider wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants. You might want that exposed skin during the hotter summer months, but if covering up keeps you from painful rash exposure, it’s worth it.
Falls from High Places
Some of the most common dangers for hikers are cliffs or steep hills. You could be in a national park or a smaller public one, but if you go off-trail and start exploring the woods or canyons, you should watch carefully for sudden drop-offs.
You might not be able to immediately see some of them if thick leaf cover conceals them. You can bring a walking stick with you and tap along the ground ahead of you. That might be a way to identify a drop-off before you get to it.
You should also go slowly and never rush ahead without looking to see where you’re going first. It’s far more likely you’ll fall from a cliff or roll down an embankment if you’re not paying attention to where you are going.
Some additional hiker dangers might include bees, wasps, or other stinging insects, and overzealous hunters. Watch out for nests and hives, and find out when hunting season is. Careless hunters have shot hikers before.
While all of this sounds dire, as long as you’re measured and careful as you traverse the trails, you should be fine. The hiking benefits far outweigh the dangers, which is why this is still such a popular activity.