Every trail in the world is not as simple and easy as a dirt path through a stretch of woods or along a rolling hillside. Some trails cut through some of the most dangerous environments and terrain that this world can offer, and hiking them safely requires a bit of foresight and trepidation. If your hiking aspirations find you immersed in such conditions, you’ll need to keep your wits about you in order to emerge from the potential danger safely, and with some great stories to tell. Today, I’ve got some tips for you concerning a few of the more common extreme hiking situations that I’ve found myself in, as well as a few others.
When you’re travelling through deeper stretches of snow, do your best to do so in straight lines (geography permitting, of course). If you’re with friends, take turns breaking a trail through the snow. If needed, you can craft makeshift snowshoes by tying 2/3-foot tree branches to your boots with the stem end facing forward.
In regions covered in desert-like terrain or where temperatures remain in the extremes constantly, beating the heat is top priority. To avoid potential heatstroke, wear long, light-colored clothing that’s breathable and do your best to hike early in the morning or late in the day, when temperatures aren’t as brutal. Water is crucial in this situation, so try to drink one liter every 60-90 minutes, especially if the heat is over 90-degrees.
In areas where rocky formations lead to sharp elevation changes, temperatures can fluctuate often. Prepare for this possibility—as well as the cold nights—by packing layers. When it comes to climbing, be smart and don’t get over-confident. Always maintain three points of contact when ascending (trekking poles help), test your holds before committing to them, and if you’re travelling with others, don’t climb above them.
Stay on the path! I can’t stress this enough. One of the biggest reasons hikers become lost is that they veer off the trail in hopes of an alternate route or to investigate a piece of scenery. In jungles and thick forests, everything can quickly blend into a wall of green that becomes impossible to navigate once you’ve lost sight of the trail. If you need to move from the trail to avoid an obstacle, move directly around it, if possible. Look for game trails if you find yourself disoriented and if you can, save the machete usage for emergencies and use a thick stick to part overgrown vegetation.
The extremes of hiking will test you and push you to the limit. Don’t add to the danger by failing to prepare yourself for such endeavors. If you find yourself trudging through deep snow or the thickest of forests, stay focused, be smart, and try to maintain a good “When in Doubt, Don’t” mentality. There’s nothing wrong with foregoing a risky action in favor of safety, so why do it? Stay safe out there, everyone, and have a happy Thanksgiving!