One of the most beautiful ways to spend the day in the nature is going hiking. Though always popular among everyone who loves active outdoor life, now with the pandemic, hiking has reached a new popularity high. Spending quality time with your friends and family in the fresh air, discovering new paths and enjoying the surroundings has become one of the favorite leisure activities. Whether you like to hike alone, in a small or big group, and no matter the difficulty of the route, there are some simple rules when hiking that you need to take into consideration.
1. Be informed and equipped
Before hiking, make sure you are well informed about the level of difficulty, trail and weather conditions and also check if there are last-minute notifications by the authorities. In addition, be aware of your own abilities and limitations – there is no need to go to the most difficult trail if you are not experienced or just moderately fit. Don’t forget to dress properly and take some food and water supplies, depending on the hike.
2. Leave no trace
We are all guests in nature. Of course, you will bring some water, food or snacks when going on a hike, however, some hiking trails don’t have garbage bins every step of the way so be mindful of the nature and don’t leave wrapping paper, plastic or any type of garbage behind. Keep it in your backpack and dispose once you see a garbage bin. Also, don’t leave any garbage even when it’s biodegradable like banana peel or rests of sandwiches – in addition to it not looking nice, animals may find and eat something which is not recommended for them.
3. Stay on the trail
Don’t wander off from the set trail – in addition to this being potentially damaging to the surroundings, you may also get lost. We often think that we can manage ourselves well in space but when in nature, the surroundings tend to look alike so it’s very easy to lose direction. Know your route and stick to it.
4. Be kind to other hikers
There is an unwritten rule that hikers always greet each other when they pass by on the trail – in the end, you are walking the same path. Don’t hesitate to also stop and have a chat with hikers passing by, especially if you are hiking alone or have a long route. This is a good way to learn about the conditions on the trail as well as maybe get some tips like where would be a good camping spot.
5. Rules of passing by
It is always nice to meet other hikers on the trail. Besides the ‘chatting tip’, there are some rules that are worth knowing, especially when on a narrow path. According to the hiking etiquette, downhill hikers should always let the uphill hikers pass by first, not just not to avoid interrupting their momentum but also because the hikers going up have the narrower vision as are making more effort concentrating on their immediate surroundings.
6. Going to the bathroom
We are all human after all so a need to go to the bathroom will come eventually during the hike and usually, there will be no toilets around. The best practice is to move away approximately 50 m from the trail to do your business so that you are not in the way. This of course is in case that it is possible and you don’t fall off a cliff or damage some protected vegetation. If this should be the case then just use your common sense – in line with the etiquette of leaving no trace and being respectful to other hikers.
7. Hikers, mountain bikers and riders
Though hikers are usually used to sharing their trails with other hikers (check the rule number 4), there will be some times when the trail will be shared with mountain bikers and/or even riders. Normally, the mountain bikers should yield to hikers but, keep in mind that they are often very fast and can have some difficulties when stopping so always be aware about your surroundings. When meeting riders on horses, hikers should always move away as horses can easily be spooked or even lose their footing if the surface is granular or loose.
8. Don’t be too loud
When hiking, it is important to be respectful to other hikers as well as nature and this also includes – sound. We get easily carried away when in a good mood, talking to friends or laughing loudly and some may even enjoy singing however, wildlife and other hikers may enjoy it a bit less. A moderate to lower volume is advised.
9. Mobile phones
It is always good to have your mobile phone with you, to navigate when needed or in case of an emergency however, it is not necessary to take all the calls on your day off in nature. Keep it on silent and tune out – enjoy the conversation with your fellow hikers or even better – enjoy the silence and sounds of the nature.
10. Hiking with a dog
If you are going on a hike with your bestie, be sure that you respect all the rules – unbelievable but some of the routes (and people) are not so dog-friendly as one would expect. Check that your chosen trail is allowed for dogs, keep them on the leash and don’t let them disturb any wildlife. In addition, don’t forget to clean after your friend and, needless to say, to make the hike enjoyable for them, always have water and snacks ready.