How to Safely Plan a Hike
Now more than ever, looking after our physical selves is important in staying healthy. When public health officials recommend that we continue to physically distance from one another, the list of activities we can do feels increasingly small. One activity you can do safely is hiking!
Getting out into nature for a weekday or weekend hike can be both a mental and physical escape. In the newest edition of Hiking Trails of Southwestern Colorado hiking veterans John Peel and Paul Pixler share great tips for planning a safe hike, regardless of whether or not you plan to hike in Southwestern Colorado.
About the Authors
John Peel grew up exploring the mountains of Colorado. When he moved to the Southwest part of the state, the original edition of Hiking Trails of Southwestern Colorado was the first book he bought. John Peel was brought on to continue the legacy of the Hiking Trails book by contributing to the fourth and fifth editions.
Paul Pixler, the author of the first three editions, taught philosophy at Fort Lewis College for nearly thirty years and spent his free time hiking and climbing the San Juan Mountains. Paul passed away in 2011, at age ninety.
Do Your Homework
Like John Peel and Paul Pixler did in researching for their book, (available now in its fifth edition!) do your own homework before you go. If you plan on hiking in a place you’ve never been before, make sure to research the area and pack enough food and water to ensure you have a bit extra if the route is longer than you anticipate. “Experience helps determine how much food and water you need, but it doesn’t hurt to overestimate,” say the authors. John and Paul also recommend packing a first-aid kit, regardless of the distance of your hike. A few essentials to include: a baggie with ibuprofen, band-aids, Moleskin for foot blisters, and a tourniquet in case of emergencies.
Map It Out
It’s always a good idea to plan your route ahead of time. Whether you choose to follow a well-researched route from a book such as Hiking Trails of Southwestern Colorado or you make your own using applications like GaiaGPS, John recommends having a firm grasp of where you’re going as the key to safely embarking on a weekend adventure. About the app John says, “You can use the free version, or pay about $20 a year to download maps and have access to other helpful perks. GaiaGPS acts much like a GPS unit. It tells you where you are and records your track so you can look at all the stats later and relive the hike, if that’s what you’re into.”
Plan and Communicate
Another one of John’s best tips is that every hike should have a plan, and every plan should be communicated. Make sure your phone is fully charged if you’re relying on app-based directions, and go over the general area on Google-maps beforehand so you can safely speak to the location, should you need to call for help.
Another great tip is to always tell someone where you’re going, and approximately how long you’ll be gone for. Making sure to communicate your plans will ensure that if something happens, help will be sent your way if you lose cell reception and need assistance. “Perhaps the most overlooked aspects of an outdoor adventure, planning, and communicating can prove critical in preventing or lessening an emergency situation,” the authors say.
The most important part of any hike is to remember to enjoy it. Being out in nature during times of increasing uncertainty can provide a much needed respite from the stress of our daily lives. You might consider bringing a journal with you and stopping somewhere shaded to jot down a few notes or reflections on how you feel. John says, “Every hike is an adventure. Wilderness is out there to be explored, to captivate, and to surprise. My hope is that you will use this book [or one about your own regional hiking trails] to capture that experience.”
You can order the fifth edition of Hiking Trails of Southwestern Colorado now and it’s available June 23rd, 2020.
Don’t miss Maria’s Bookshop’s free online event for hikers and nature lovers celebrating the launch of Hiking Trails of Southwestern Colorado Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. MST on Zoom.