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Hiking and Outdoor Safety Tips You Should Consider

Arizona is a beautiful state with breathtaking views that offers over 2,800 hiking trails for various levels of difficulty. To achieve the best hiking experience, there are several things to consider. It’s not recommended that you hike without doing your research and having a plan.

Planning a hike
When planning a hike, you first need to decide where you want to hike and what level of difficulty you want to do. Level of difficulties range from Easy, Moderate, Moderately Strenuous, Strenuous and Very Strenuous. Easy would be best for someone that likes to walk and is suitable for children.  Only experienced hikers should hike a trail rated Moderately Strenuous, Strenuous and Very Strenuous as these trails involve higher elevations, longer distances and may involve climbing. Know your limitations.  Consider any health conditions when determining what hike to do. Also research the trail to know what wildlife you may encounter.

 Proper footwear, such as hiking boots, light colored, breathable clothing, a hat, and sunscreen are needed. Keep in mind the time of year and dress appropriately. You may also want to take hiking poles as they can help save your knees and may prevent a fall.

Bring more water than you think you need. Even if the weather is cooler, it is still important to stay hydrated. It’s better to have more than you need than to run out and put yourself in a dangerous position.  When you have drank half of your water you need to turn around and head back to the trail head. Do not drink from streams, unless you first treat the water, as there may be bacteria which can cause diarrhea and life-threatening conditions.  A chart regarding the amount of water you should carry is included at the end of this article, as well as a link of how to treat water found on the trail.

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High protein and calorie rich foods are recommended. Nuts, granola, and protein bars are great hiking snacks along with oranges and bananas are all great for a day hike. If taking a longer hike you will need to consider what other food to bring and if any of that food will need to be kept cold.

Carry a cell phone
Being able to communicate with the outside world is important in case you fall or become unable to finish your hike. To save the battery life of your phone turn it off or put it on airplane mode.

Hike with others
Not only is it more fun to hike with others, but it is also a safety precaution. Friends can check on each other and if needed, are available to call for help. If you do choose to hike alone, carry a cell phone, and make sure a friend or family member knows where you are hiking to include the specific trail and when you expect to return.

Do not stray from the trail
Arizona is a huge state that offers wonderful hiking trails but it’s easy to get lost if you go off the trail. Please avoid becoming a statistic.

Check the weather
  Depending on the time of year it may be best to hike in the early morning during the warmer months. Midday may be better for colder months.

Other equipment
Things to take along include a small medical kit, a compass, and a camera are just a few suggestions. See the link below for safety items to pack.

Most activities or sports have written, and unwritten etiquette rules and hiking is no different. Know the rules of the trail. Per the American Hiking Association “Be respectful of the land and other hikers.” They advise to hike quietly. If taking a break move off the trail to allow other hikers to pass you. Do not toss any trash to include biodegradable items such as fruit peels as they are not good for the animals. Hikers going downhill yield to those hiking uphill. Do not feed the wildlife. Do not take anything such as plants or rocks with you. If you need to relieve yourself, do so two hundred feet away from the trail and any water sources.

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Pets should always be on a leash. Walk through the mud or puddle because by walking around it and going off the trail you may be widening the trail, and this is bad for trail sustainability. If hiking in a group, hike single file so that there is plenty of room for other hikers. By following good hiking etiquette, you help make sure that you and others have the best hiking experience.

The number one rule of hiking is to be safe, and number two should be to have fun. Hiking fun means enjoying nature and getting some great exercise, as well as making great memories that will also be reflected in the amazing pictures that you took.

Here are some more tips to help you enjoy our beautiful Southwest and Happy Hiking!