Hiking Preparation and Precautions Post 2

Spring

While spring weather is invited and enjoyed by many, the hiker needs to be aware of its sometimes hidden dangers. Layered clothing is even more important due to temperature changes during the day. Also, changes in weather are more frequent and extreme. The frozen ground melts and produces an abundance of moisture to surrounding elements such as rocks. Thus, each step needs attention, especially downhill. There is a greater chance for rain during this season, so carrying rain gear is especially necessary.

Animals that have hibernated during the winter months now emerge and the mating season begins. Thus interaction with animals, especially big ones, needs attention. Stay on marked trails and near other hikers, if possible. If you should come across a mother protecting her newborns or a male pursuing a mate, back away while keeping eye contact. Running is useless and only invites the animal to attempt the capture of an apparent intruder or opponent.

Summer

Whether you live in the north or south, insects dominate the environment when outside, thus adding to the discomfort of the summertime hiker. Of course, disturbing the nest of some insects can lead to more then just discomfort. Packing insect repellant as well as something to relieve bee stings will give the summer hike a more pleasant flavor. Just as in springtime, animals are out and about during the summer months and the same precautions apply.

Heat and humidity are the main weather-related components to consider. While dressing lightly to keep cool is advisable, I discourage wearing shorts unless the hike is through an area that isn’t full of brush. Not only can you injure your bare legs while walking, any venture through brush or rocky areas brings the danger of snakebites. Wearing long pants reduces the probability of a bite breaking the skin especially.

Plenty of water is needed during the day even if you don’t feel thirsty. Dry areas such as Arizona and Southern California can cause moisture to leave the body without your realizing it. Heat stroke is not uncommon when hiking in arid conditions with high temperatures. Carrying as much water as possible from a reliable source is best, but if that is not practical, take along water purifying tablets or boil water for at least ten minutes.