Planning a Hike? Hike Planner or Hiking Tips for Hike Planning
Are you Planning A Hike? This article can be looked at as a Hike Planner or as a list of Hiking Tips For Hike Planning.
Before you go hiking, make sure you are prepared for what lies ahead of you. Planning helps you to focus on the risks involved and enables you to mitigate the consequences of anything going wrong before you go.
Some people truly get pleasure from the hiking trip planning stage, almost as much as the actual hiking. Planning for a hike could be considered to be like taking a virtual tour of the actual hike. Then when you do the actual hike it can be interesting and fun to compare the planned route and actual route taken.
You can plan and prepare for you hiking trip as much as you like. Calculating your exact backpack weight and the time you should break for lunch is ok but be prepared to be flexible and be ready adjust your plans as necessary.
A top priority, especially for hiking beginners should be to understand the nature of the hiking trip to be undertaken and their own personal strengths and limitations. These are the main hike planning factors to consider:
Avoid Lone Hiking
Lone hiking is not safe, even for old pros and especially for women. Unless hiking in high traffic zones where you feel safe, do not hike alone! Hike in a group of at least two fellow hikers. If there is an accident, one person can stay with the injured hiker whilst the other goes for help. Once you have experienced: rough weather and difficult terrain conditions; several wrong turnings and accidents; then you can contemplate hiking alone. Until that time, go with buddies having greater experience compared to you so you can learn new hiking tips.
Discuss the hiking destinations and route; the distance to be hiked; intended hiking speed; what you want to see; etc. with your hiking buddies. Ensure each member understands their tasks and responsibilities. Harmonize expectations to make the adventure fun with minimal surprises.
Make sure you are well-informed about the hiking trails you will take, the hiking terrain conditions as well as weather conditions. Have a detailed and up to date topographic map with you. Is it a public park or private land? Are permits or reservations needed? Find out about guidelines, regulations or restrictions relevant to you hiking plans. Ask local authorities for last minute updates and firsthand information. Time of year will affect the terrain. A dry and dusty trail in summer may be a mud trap at other times. Hiking over frozen marshes may be an option but do not try it once thawed. Note that high altitudes mean lower temperatures. Hypothermia is a real risk when temperatures are below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be aware of your personal capabilities and limitations, both physical and mental. Know how far you can hike; the number of hours you want to hike; and what load you can bear in your backpack. Make your plans accordingly to avoid difficulties that might result in injuries to yourself or others. Before doing a long hiking trip, get fit by walking daily and doing some short hikes. In poor weather, suitable aerobic training alternatives to help you get and remain fit include a treadmills and swimming. If planning a multi-day hike or backpacking trip, practice with the footwear you intend to wear and carry a loaded backpack. Start with a little load and increase it gradually. If you intend to hike and climb to high altitudes, try some shorter hikes to acclimatize yourself. Can you deal with the emotion of: twisting an ankle; getting sore legs, knees or feet; getting lost; unclean conditions and insects; etc?
Hike Distance Time
This will depend on your hiking ability; trail conditions; hiking elevation; weather conditions; and many other small factors. As a general rule, 2 miles per hour is achievable by most people on level ground. Where the hiking elevation is greater than that at home, hiking speed will be reduced due to there being less oxygen. Also, when climbing, the hiking speed will be slower so for each 1000 feet of change in elevation add half an hour.
In many national parks and wilderness areas you need a permit, which is frequently free. However, you may face an expensive fine if checked and do not have one. Permits are used to limit trail use; monitor traffic; and maintain hiker safety. Some permits grant general access whilst others are restrictive in terms of both routes and camping sites. Other zones may not require a permit, but it is always a good idea to check in with a ranger. It’s an opportunity to tell one more person where you plan on hiking and to check one last time on trail conditions and any special short-term regulations in the area.
If you have a medical condition that could need treatment then take supplies or any prescriptions (e.g. epinephrine for bee sting allergy). Consult your medical advisor about your hiking plans and obtain approval or cautionary advice.
Hiking With Kids
If hiking with children, ensure they are prepared in all aspects. Educate them about Mother Nature. Get them into a routine of exercise before taking them hiking. Ensure they drink plenty of water and do not become dehydrated. Make sure they do not run about at the start as they will tire too quickly.
Review your map and compass skills and test yourself on your GPS use. Study what you do not remember.
If you are venturing into the wilderness, find out how to make a lean to shelter, and maybe research edible plants from the wild. Learn how to: make a fire; filter the local water; do an overnight camp; and remain dry.
Make a plan for emergency situations. Ensure you have the equipment needed for medical and other emergencies.
Find out the expected weather conditions over your whole hiking trip if possible. Select your clothing and other equipment based on your findings. Consider the worst effects from weather that you do not prepare for then determine if the risk is acceptable. To be extra safe, expect the worst and prepare for it. Note that weather conditions are related to elevation. Each 1000 feet of elevation generally means an air temperature drop of 5 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, greater heights mean quicker and more severe weather changes with large temperature drops and higher wind speeds. Make a reminder to keep an eye on your surroundings when hiking. Observe the cloud formations, speed and colour. Observe the wind. A short rainy spell may make you seek shelter briefly but hiking time could become much greater as a result of mud layers on the trail afterwards. Be ready to adjust your hiking plan because of poor weather.
Go Back Time
For a long day hike, you should make a decision on an approximate estimated time to stop hiking forward, and return back to civilization. If you do not have any equipment for an overnight stay; or if you have minimal food and water; or you are lightly clothed; you should decide on a time limit to reach your goal. Most times, it is best to be on your return leg around about midday, particularly when hiking at high altitude and/or when there is a likelihood of poor weather conditions.
Make sure to be well-equipped for your intended hike plus the terrain and weather conditions. Ensure your equipment is in good working order. Check your shelter, footwear, backpack, sleeping bag, etc. Ensure you have your navigational equipment, food and drink (take extra if you want), survival kit, first aid kit, etc. by using a checklist.
Always deposit a copy of your hike itinerary with someone you can contact. Ensure they know your route; start time; expected return time; and time you will contact them. Also leave instructions about who to contact, such as the closest rescue team, if you do not contact them.
Planning enables you to consider the risks involved and to mitigate the consequences of something going wrong prior to actually hiking.
In this article we have highlighted most of the major factors to consider when planning and preparing for a hiking trip.
No doubt some of you will be thinking about other factors.
If you feel I have missed out something important then please let us know.
You may well do just the amount of planning and preparation that suits your character and corresponding to the amount of risk you are prepared to put up with.
The higher your risk tolerance the lesser the planning you are likely to undertake.
Whatever your level of planning and preparation, be flexible on your trip and ready to change your plans as needed.
I hope that before you start your hiking trips, you are prepared for what lies ahead of you and that you have fun on your trips.
I hope you found this article: Planning A Hike? Hike Planner Or Hiking Tips For Hike Planning to be of benefit to you.
More On Planning A Hike
The following video is 2 minutes 27 seconds long and provides some useful tips on “How To Plan A Day Hike”:
Planning a day hike is easy with these tips. Get advice on backpacking, hiking, and the great outdoors in this video.