Watch out for
Dr. Allen Cherer
All hikers should be aware of the weather forecast;
this is basically a no-brainer and a main staple of
However, this moral goes beyond simply knowing
what conditions might be coming to your area; keep
in mind the ways this weather can impact the
environment around you. This knowledge can be
crucial in making a judgement call on what weather
is deemed “hikable.”
The best practice when sizing up your hike’s terrain
is to never underestimate it. The hillside may be
more slippery than you are aware; the river might be
a lot deeper than it looks; the rocks you are planning
to traverse might be loose.
Terrain-based hazards warrant a game of
overthinking for your own safety. This approach is
especially important for new hikers, as experienced
hikers will likely know much more about a certain
location via numerous visits.
Another key part of hiking preparation is to become
acquainted with your destination’s ecosystem — namely
the creatures and plants that call it home. Hazardous
organisms can range from obvious culprits (bears,
rattlesnakes, poison ivy) to occasionally overlooked
threats (stinging nettle, coyotes), so be aware of even the
most unexpected encounters.
For general protection, bring along a means of self-defense
(a firearm, pepper spray) and a method of communication
to call for help. If hiking in a group, make sure no one is
allergic to certain plants or insect stings.
Your health should be considered and monitored going into
a hike — especially a solo hike or a hike accomplished in
extremely hot or cold conditions.
If you have chronic issues or hold a risk for underlying
conditions stemming from genetics, you may want to
schedule a physical or standard doctor check-in to ensure
your vitals are strong and you are in proper condition to
exert yourself in this manner. The last thing you want is to
need medical assistance on a remote trail.