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30 Essential Hiking Safety Hacks For Safe And Well-Organized Adventures

30 Essential Hiking Safety Hacks For Safe And Well-Organized Adventures

Those of us who soaked up the Oprah-recommended book called “Wild” got to live vicariously through author Cheryl Strayed’s adventures as she white-knuckled her way through a precarious hike up the Pacific Coast Trail.

Those of us who don’t want to experience the foot-bleeding, skin-peeling, moose-fleeing drama that she faced during her arduous journey would do well to follow these 30 hiking safety hacks.

1. Get great-fitting boots

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    Boots that fit improperly can make you suffer from unnecessary blisters and lost toenails. Grabbing a pair (or two) of the best-reviewed hiking boots on Amazon that aren’t too tight or way too big for your feet is critical.

    2. Walk around with your backpack before leaving

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      If you pack too many items in your backpack, you’ll needlessly suffer from carrying a heavier load that necessary. Test out picking up, toting and putting down your intended load on your back while still at home, before embarking on your journey.

      3. Send yourself supply boxes ahead of time

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        Instead of trying to carry everything but the kitchen sink on your back, send yourself boxes full of supplies at pre-planned points at post offices along your trail hike – especially if it’s an extended walk.

        4. Make sure to learn what’s poisonous and what’s edible

        As chronicled in the popular book and movie called Into the Wild, Christopher McCandless died most likely as a result of eating a mold-filled plant or from confusing wild sweet pea seeds with those of another flora. The crucial lesson to be learned is to ensure what you’re eating is safe.

        5. Give up if the hike becomes too dangerous

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          Don’t be so set in stone on following your hiking plan that you’re not willing to make changes. Certain seasons bring inordinate snowfall and ice or other treacherous conditions to some trails, making them impassable.

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          6. Take a buddy if you feel led to do so

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            There’s safety in numbers. Though we love to read the tales of folks brave enough to venture off on solo hikes, it helps to consider bringing others – especially more experienced hikers – along on your trip.

            7. Know your trail

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              Use a map, GPS device and compass to figure out where you’re going, but make sure you’ve also studied every nuance of the area you’re planning to hike – and that you know how to use landmarks to determine where you’re going, just in case all of those devices become lost.

              8. Bring sufficient snacks

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                Keep consuming enough high-quality calories to give you energy for your hike. Stuff your bag with freeze-dried foods that are both lightweight and nutritious.

                9. Check out a menstrual sponge

                Yeah, I’d never heard one either until I read the report of Strayed, the female hiker who used a menstrual sponge to collect her monthly flow. She’d wash it and reuse it instead of dealing with sanitary napkins and tampons.

                10. Hang your food

                Always hang your food or use a bear canister in order to keep it safe from animals, and to help prevent critters from sniffing around near you, advises the Washington Trails Association.

                11. Take enough water

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                  Even if you anticipate running into drinkable, fresh-water sources along your path, realize that it’s healthy to bring a water bladder full of liquid in order to keep you well hydrated each day.

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                  12. Sunscreen is critical

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                    Even if it’s the dead of winter, the sun can still beat down on you in dangerous ways. Protect your skin with sunscreen lotion that contains a high SPF factor.

                    13. Learn how to safely start a fire

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                      Even if it’s raining, it helps to follow the Boy Scout rules on how to still use collected wood, your handy pocket knife and starter accessories to get a fire going that can keep you warm, give light and cook your food.

                      14. Bring extra Band-Aids

                      Experienced hikers say that you can rarely have enough Band-Aids – even more than are found in the standard first-aid kits. Because backpacks tend to rub against shoulders and backs, they can cause blisters that need to be covered.

                      15. Remember the first-aid kit

                      Speaking of first-aid kits, REI has a great one that includes things like Moleskin for blister protection and other wound-care specifics that might not be found in other non-hiking related kits.

                      16. An ice pick can be your best friend

                      As dramatically chronicled in Wild, learning to properly use an ice pick can help you navigate precarious trails by offering surer footing in the case of icy surfaces.

                      17. Take something good to read

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                        Although safety is very important, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring fun items along with you. During the downtime and slow hours when you’re not staring at the sunrise, you might want to pull out your favorite Divergent book or a compact copy of the New Testament to keep you company.

                        18. Inform others of your hiking plan

                        Instead launching off without letting any family members or friends know where you’re going, leave your detailed hiking safety plan with at least one person you can trust – and plan to check in with them at appointed times.

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                        19. Do shorter hikes first

                        Before setting out on the monumental hike of a lifetime, plan to complete several smaller hikes first in order to acclimate yourself to the process.

                        20. Learn how to set up your tent before you leave

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                          It can be tempting to let your tent stay nice and tidy, planning to unpack it and read the rules when you’re on your hike. It’s better, however, to learn the intricacies of tent setup – which can be daunting – in the safety of your own backyard first, instead of in the wild.

                          21. Keep as dry as possible

                          Dampness and cold can be the enemy to a good hike. Even rain jackets may need to be put through an extra waterproofing process.

                          22. Use your fingers to estimate the remaining daylight

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                            Sort of like using a sundial to tell time, there’s a neat way you can use your fingers to determine if you have enough hours of light left to hike on or whether you should hunker down for the evening.

                            23. Look up to the moon and stars.

                            In order to find your true north and south directions, without needing a compass you can observe the moon and the stars.

                            24. Bring a quality knife

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                              Not that you want to use it like Aron Ralston had to use his when he cut off his own arm in order to free himself after getting trapped in rock canyons as shown in the movie 127 Hours, but a good knife can do everything from provide protection to help prepare food.

                              25. Pack extra clothes

                              Realize that if you’re hiking in a cold climate, you can still sweat and soak through your clothes. Make sure you have enough extra gear to change into whilst your other soggy clothes are drying

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                              26. Double-check last minute weather reports

                              Even if the location you’re planning to hike is predicted to be filled with sunny skies and pleasant weather, make sure you’re aware of up-to-the-minute storms or other approaching factors than can adversely affect your hike.

                              27. Research all the potential animals you may encounter

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                                Bring bear repellant spray, and learn the proper way to react if you’re suddenly faced with a big grizzly bear versus a black bear. Determine beforehand the types of wildlife your hiking area contains – be it teeming with coyotes, snakes, mountain lions or whatever – along with the best ways to keep safe from them.

                                28. Duck Tape can be very valuable

                                Duck Tape can serve a multitude of purposes, from taping up wounds to covering blisters to helping to remove a tick, so stock up.

                                29. Protect your smartphone in a waterproof case

                                If you can get a signal when you need it the most, a waterproof case for your cell phone can serve as a lifeline by keeping the electronic dry and usable. Life Proof makes a great one.

                                30. Stay calm, keep your wits about you and have fun

                                Newleycombe Cross In Snow

                                  Remember the main reasons you have embarked upon the journey. Even if you come across unexpected adventures, don’t give in to fear. Enjoy the exercise and keep calm. Remain visible and send distress signals in case of an emergency.

                                  Featured photo credit: Travel to Mount Cook National Park by ZIVOTNACESTACH.CZ via picjumbo.com

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                                  Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                                  How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                                  How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                                  We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                                  We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                                  So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                                  Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                                  What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                                  Boundaries are limits

                                  —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                                  Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                                  Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                                  Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                                  Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                                  How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                                  Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                                  1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                                  Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                                  You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                                  To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                                  You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                                  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                                  • When do you feel disrespected?
                                  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                                  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                                  • When do you want to be alone?
                                  • How much space do you need?

                                  You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                                  2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                                  Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                                  Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                                  3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                                  Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                                  That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                                  Sample language:

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                                  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                                  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                                  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                                  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                                  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                                  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                                  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                                  Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                                  4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                                  Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                                  Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                                  Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                                  We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                                  It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                                  It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                                  Final Thoughts

                                  Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                                  Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                                  Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                                  The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                                  Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                                  Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                                  They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                                  Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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