Nearly six months have passed since Covid-19 reared its menacing head, and most gyms are still closed. Fortunately, California weather provides ample opportunities to exercise outdoors year-round, and hiking is one activity that people of all ages can enjoy. We’ve put together this article on hiking to address general safety precautions and hiking tips for all ages. So, whether you’re a veteran or a novice, keep reading to learn more.
Age-Appropriate Ways To Hike
Hiking is good for your cardiovascular system and well-being, but it also gets you in nature with breathtaking views of wildlife and fauna, which California provides in abundance. There are trails for all ages and abilities, from smooth walking paths to mountainous terrain and backpacking excursions. You just need to ask some questions to determine what hike is best for you.
- How much experience do I have/need for this hike?
- Have I ever hiked this terrain or distance before?
- How much weight can I carry in a backpack for an extended period?
- Can I confidently hike by myself, or should I go with a friend?
- How do I respond in higher elevations?
Once you have a good understanding of your capability, you can plan a hike suitable for your ability level. The NPS Trip Planning Guide is an excellent resource to help you plan your next (or first) hike in a national park. Make sure you choose the right trail for your ability and that of the least skilled person in your groups. You can also talk to Park Rangers to get their input and suggestions for appropriate hiking trails.
General Safety Precautions
All hikers should prepare a “trip plan” complete with all the details of your hike, including start and end times, contact information, location of the walk, and the names of hiking partners. If you don’t return, emergency responders can act quickly to try to locate you in the event of an emergency. You should also create a separate emergency plan if something happens on your hike that requires first aid or CPR. In addition to these precautions, here are some other tips to consider:
- Bring plenty of snacks and water. Avoid dehydration and be mindful of how much water is required per person.
- Wear light, breathable clothing.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. Avoid loose rocks, slippery areas, and high cliffs. Don’t wear headphones or anything that will limit your senses.
- The heat can cause numerous injuries. Consider hiking in the morning on incredibly hot days or if you aren’t used to exercising outside.
- Factor in air quality, which has its health complications. Utilize helpful tools, such as the air quality index to rate the outdoor air quality and pollution level on any given day. You can always check local media weather reports before your hike, too, and sign up for weather alerts and forecast updates.
A Quick Note for “Seasoned” Hikers
When we say seasoned, we’re not referring to experts. We’re talking to older adults with a newly found or well-established interest in hiking. Hiking can have inherent risks no matter your age, but it is wise to incorporate as many of the suggestions we’ve covered thus far as possible, along with these:
- Bring your ID, a cell phone, and emergency contact information.
- Depending on your skill level, choose paths that are well-used and even paved. Identify hiking trails that provide opportunities to stop, sit, and rest along the way.
- Try to limit your hikes to the daytime, especially when walking through the woods or on rough terrain.
- Bring bright-colored clothing, reflective gear, or a flashlight if you don’t make it back before dark. These items will help other hikers or emergency responders locate you from a distance should you get lost.
- If you have any health issues or misgivings, consult with your physician before planning a hike.
California has much to offer in terms of beauty and exercise. Make the most of it, be safe, and enjoy all that nature has to offer. And since Covid is still making its way around, be sure to bring a mask and do your best to socially distance from other large hiking groups. With the proper planning and precautions hiking can be a great way to escape the confines of your home and/or office and reconnect with both nature and your loved ones. We’ll see you on the trails!
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