When winter turns to spring, and spring turns to summer, it’s time to hang up the skis and dust off the hiking boots. This summer millions of Americans will head outside to camp, kayak, hike, and bike. To ensure that you maximize your valuable leisure time, here are 5 tips to recreate safely for the whole season.
- Plan Ahead and Prepare. Knowing where you’re going to hike, paddle, or bike is just the beginning. There are many other factors to consider. How are the bugs during the day you’ll be outside? Are there any trails that are closed? What animals might you encounter, and what precautions can you take to safely enjoy their presence? These, and other questions, can usually be answered by the local land management agency (The National Park Service, local rangers, etc.) or by a reputable outfitter.
- Buy or Rent the Proper Equipment. Every outdoor activity requires proper gear. Basics such as a map, water bottle, and appropriate clothing are essential. Other activity-specific gear (such as a headlamp for longer day hikes) is often required as well. Visit your local outdoor supply store to get advice about what to purchase, or contact a reputable outfitter near your trip location to rent the necessary items.
- Check the Weather. This may seem simple, but weather patterns often change quickly. Knowing what to expect will help ensure you and your family remain dry, warm, and comfortable. Be sure to check more than just the percentage chance of rain the day of your trip. Wind, temperature, humidity, and time of day also play a role.
- Tell Someone Where You Are Going. Providing a trusted friend or family member with an itinerary of where you plan to travel, and when you plan to return, is an often-overlooked step in planning a safe outdoor adventure. Things don’t always go as imagined, and it’s important to have someone looking out for you if an injury or equipment failure disrupts your plans.
- Know Your Limitations. A trail may look short on the map, but add several thousand feet of elevation gain and your hiking or biking trip just became a lot more challenging. Make sure you and your family or friends are open and honest about how you’re feeling throughout the day. Consuming enough food and water, and making sure you take care of your other physical needs, are other important parts of the equation.
Follow these tips and you’re much more likely to have an enjoyable experience outdoors this summer. And don’t forget, it’s often helpful to hire a reputable guide to help you dive deeper into these, and other, safeguards. Here’s to a great summer on your favorite trail, river, or lake!