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Woman watching a lake in the mountains
Travel

Hiking for beginners – What you need to know to be safe on the trails

Having a hike in the woods or a mountainous area can be very refreshing and pleasant. If you are a beginner in this activity and wish to know where to start from, I believe that this would be an excellent point: keeping yourself safe on a hike.

To fully enjoy this activity, we must prepare in advance and make sure that we stay away from injuries and accidents on the trails. Here are a few rules that you must consider if you are a beginner hiker.


Where to go?

It’s best to choose a National Park for your hike. Usually, these have websites where you can find useful information about the park’s flora and fauna, and sometimes also about the trails and their difficulty level.

Check out the weather predictions for the day you plan your hike. You can also contact rangers from the National Park and ask them about the conditions of the trails or must-see points. By discussing with them, you will find out a lot of information about what you might see. They will also advise you on how to stay safe. You may also ask for an emergency number if something should go wrong.

How must you go hiking if you are a beginner?

Don’t go hiking all by yourself. Bring at least one friend with you. While this might vary according to each one’s preference, it’s always a good idea not to go alone on hikes if you are a beginner. If something goes wrong, it will be much more difficult to handle it all by yourself. You can also choose a small group trip with an adventure travel tour operator and take this opportunity to meet new people with the same interests.

two women hiking

Adapt your clothing to the weather conditions and temperature. Wear proper boots and socks, and make sure your ankle is well supported. Walking on rough terrain increases the chances of hurting your ankles or toes. Unappropriate footwear can cause painful blisters that will ruin the most spectacular views.

Go hiking after proper planning beforehand. That is, look on the map and decide the trail you will take, look for shelters, water sources, or huts along the way. (This information can be useful also on winter hikes: you can stop at cottages along the way, have warm tea, and change your clothes with dry ones) Try and find out if you have a network on the trails for your cell phone.

Tell at least one more person about your plan and the trail that you decided to take. If you don’t come back in time, they can ask for help, and they will have at least an idea of your possible location when searching.  

You might want to take a paper map with you. Don’t rely only on electronic devices. Batteries may discharge, you might not have a mobile network in some areas, or the extreme temperature might cause malfunction. Take into account using a PLB device. (Personal Locator Beacon)

child hiking holding a paper map

Stay on the trail. This is part of good practices while hiking when it comes to environmental protection, but it will decrease your chances of getting lost.

What to take with you?

Bring an emergency kit with you with all you could need in case of injury or if you get lost. I find useful the 10 Essentials list, published by the Mountaineer Organization. It is a basic of what you should have with you on a hike to prevent and address unpleasant events while hiking and to be able to spend one night outdoor safely. Depending on your hike’s complexity, you can take more or less of the 10 Essentials, but I believe it is an excellent starting point.

Bring a first aid kit with bandages, pills, and antibacterial substances. If you feel that you are not comfortable in your boots and blisters start to form, stop, and apply a patch immediately. Also, bring medication and protection for bug bites (mosquitos are a pain in different areas in Romania). 

Take with you enough food and water. You can test during an easy hike and see what your usual need for food and water is. If you don’t want to carry water bottles with you, check out and see if there are any water sources on the trail or use a water purifying system to make sure the water you drink is safe from bacteria and will not make you ill. When it comes to food, I usually like sandwiches and protein bars, nuts, and chocolate. It is vital to stay hydrated during your hike.

Group of people hiking

When to go hiking?

You can choose any season you like to enjoy nature and adventure. One thing you should keep in mind, though: make sure you hike during the daytime and that you avoid the hottest hours in the summer when temperatures are very high.

Also, be mentally prepared to go back at any given time. If you or your friends find yourself exhausted, or the trail is too muddy (and therefore is unsafe), or find any obstacles in your way, keep in mind that the summit will also be there next week, month or year. It is important that you are too. Moreover, enjoy the journey and nature, don’t transform your hike into a contest of reaching the summit. There are so many things that you can enjoy in the wild, if only you pay attention around you.

two people hiking with dog

Photo credit : Unsplash

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