As you know, hiking is a great way to explore and enjoy the Great Outdoors. It’s also a great way to get hurt. Or worse. My Top Tip for dramatically increasing your chances of becoming headline news or an avoidable trail tragedy? Hike alone. Yep, hiking solo is just about the dumbest hiking thing you can do most anywhere.
There are those towering intellects among us who insist they like the “solitude” and “peace and quiet” of hitting the trail alone. They may feel differently after twisting an ankle. Having no one else slower behind them when an angry bear charges. Or getting bit by whatever, twenty miles from the nearest valley in a valley that eats cell phone signals for breakfast.
Remember: Lewis had Clark. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Donner had… well. Let’s not go there. But even if you have to haul Aunt Matilda away from her pinochle party or Cousin Elmer out of the hoosegow, never, ever, ever hike alone. (Besides. What fun is that?) Always “take two.” At least.
And always carry the 10 Essentials.
There’s a reason the National Park Service calls its list of trail must-haves the 10 Essentials. Not the 10 Suggestions. Not the 10 Maybes. It’s the 10 Essentials. Here, according to the NPS, are the 10 Essentials you should take on every trail, every time:
- Map of the area (GPS isn’t omni-reliable)
- Extra food and water
- Extra clothing (warm) and rain gear
- Emergency shelter
- First aid kit
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Sun glasses and sun screen
- Pocket knife
- Matches (waterproof)
The #1 Don’t Leave Home Without It hiking item? Your common sense. A little goes a long way. So does a hiking buddy. If you don’t have a hiking buddy, holler. I might lend you one of mine. If you ask real nice.
For more, see: How to Hike Safe and Sane