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Safety Tips for Hikers

Going Hiking? Don’t Forget These Safety Tips

Experts say failing to alert family or friends of your plans is one of the biggest mistakes hikers make. Here are some more of their recommendations.

By Derrick Bryson Taylor
July 29, 2022

The summit on Hawksbill Mountain in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia provides sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. On a clear day, miles of lush forest and valleys can be seen in any direction. It’s the kind of vista that begs for a square on Instagram, isn’t terribly difficult to reach and drives millions to hit the trails.

While a vast majority of hikes end without incident, strenuous physical activity coupled with extreme weather and the lack of preparedness has resulted in a wave of recent injuries and deaths. This month, at least two hikers in the United States have been found dead, one near a lake outside Kansas City, Mo., and another in White Sands National Park in New Mexico. In June, a hiker with hypothermia died after being rescued in freezing temperatures and high winds near Mount Clay in New Hampshire.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Americans flocked to the outdoors in greater numbers. In 2020, more than 68.5 million Americans participated in overnight backpacking and day hiking, a 13.6 percent increase over the year before, according to a report from the Outdoor Foundation. That surge has also accompanied an increase in the number of hiking-related injuries observed by park and rescue officials.

“Sometimes going out without the skills leads to bad circumstances,” said Jennifer Pharr Davis, who has hiked more than 14,000 miles of long trails and is the owner of the Blue Ridge Hiking Company. Kate Van Waes, the executive director of the American Hiking Society, added that hikers should learn to find their adventure within the expertise they have, which can always grow with experience.

Before you head out, here are some safety tips and reminders, no matter your skill level.

What should I do before the hike?

Have a realistic plan. Hikers should have some knowledge of the route they plan to take, including the condition of the trail — whether it’s steep, rocky or smooth. Hikers should also take stock of the weather forecast and how they’re feeling on the day of the hike. “You might be an expert hiker, but your stomach is bothering you that day or you’ve got a headache,” Ms. Van Waes said. “Or your knee is acting up. Don’t push through it.”

She also said that failing to alert family or friends of your plan was one of the biggest mistakes made by hikers, whether they’re newbies or experienced. “Make sure someone who is not on the hike knows when you’re going, where you’re going and when you expect to be back,” she said.
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Historic Towns In Texas That Will Transport You

5 Historic Towns In Texas That Will Transport You To The Past

3. Nacogdoches

Nacogdoches is THE oldest town in Texas, so naturally it has a rich history. In the late 1700s, Spanish settlers established missions here despite the resistance from the Caddo Indians who already inhabited the town. In 1832, these Indians drove the Spanish out, an action that later led to the Texas Revolution that the previous two towns helped initiate. In 1923, Stephen F. Austin University was established. For nature lovers, Nacogdoches is home to the largest Azalea garden in Texas and has a beautiful mountain range, the Caddo Indian mountains, nearby.

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