I am all about seeking health and wellness by enjoying the outdoors, and hiking is an ideal pursuit of that goal.
It can be done at any chosen pace, with as many rest-stops and snack-stops as needed. It can also be combined with other interests such as photography, animal watching including bird life, wildflower identification and furthering an interest in geology. Hiking with a friend can deepen your friendship, and if you have a dog, it will love the companionship.
In order to make sure you have a fun (and safe) hike, it’s best to be prepared for possible emergencies. I suggest equipment and other preparedness items to have on hand to deal with potential emergencies.
I also cover a range of scenarios you may encounter on a hike, including how to prepare for them and some ideas on how to handle them if they occur. Examples are:
- Getting Lost (see How to Get Rescued on a Hike and Getting Lost)
- Medical and Injury (see How to Get Rescued on a Hike )
- Thunderstorms (see What to do in a Thunderstorm)
- Wild Animal Encounter (see How to Stay Safe When You Encounter a Black Bear and How to Pick a Buddy for a Hike)
Also, you can expect future posts on such things as altitude sickness and “cliffing out” challenges for climbers.
Mentality to Overcoming Possible Adverse Occurrences
While the difficulties of a situation may change, the approach I advocate if something goes wrong is the same. This approach is similar to handling a seemingly overwhelming challenge as you increase the duration and/or difficulty of your hikes or climbs. For those thoughts please (see A8).
Here is a general set of principles to follow when something happens:
What equipment items do you have in the backpacks in your group? Do you have additional layers of clothing to withstand unexpected weather, or extra food for an extended outing due to being lost, or items that can be used for temporary first aid? Just realizing what assets you have at your disposal to deal with the emergency can be calming.
Get to Calm
It is extremely important to be conscious of how agitated or panicked you or others are and take immediate steps to calm down for clearer thinking and decision-making. Regulate your breathing and reduce physical stress; this will reduce energy expenditure and help you avoid exhaustion. Keep your thought focused on the present and very near future –the current predicament is the total priority, and any thoughts of who might be angry because you might return later than a scheduled event should be put aside.
I have found that adopting a fatalistic attitude helps a lot. Whatever happened that caused the current adverse situation is a reality; spending precious thoughts ruing how you got into whatever the mess is does not help improve the situation. You can’t reverse the clock to create a different present, what you can do is to get to clear thinking and execution by doing your best to solve the problem and then pursue the solution relentlessly.
Make your next priority to get to safety and stabilize. This could be retracing to get back on the trail, retracing to get back to a water feature you passed, getting back to a place that is safer in a thunderstorm, or even back to where you passed other hikers or campers who may be able to give added assistance. Play defense: decide where safety is and set a plan to get there.
Break the Big Problem into Smaller Ones
This applies to all things that are overwhelming at first. Once you have determined incremental milestones to solve the whole problem, then prioritize which one to go after first.
As mentioned above, if one of the smaller pieces of the total problem is to get to safety, make that the first smaller step to accomplish.
If you are not alone, you can divvy up the smaller parts of the solution among your group, but do not physically separate with others to the point where you might not find your way back together. Never leave your partner, even if the problem is that he or she is too tired to continue and encourages you to go on and you’ll meet up upon return. Too many things can go wrong with that tactic and it is not worth the risk. I have heard of too many stories of hikers getting separated and not finding each other with bad consequences. I will tell a few of them in the upcoming book release.