HikingHiking is a form of walking, undertaken with the specific purpose of exploring and enjoying the scenery, particularly in areas of relatively unspoiled wilderness, and usually on trails. Hikers usually carry small backpacks with essential gear. Overnight hiking is more properly called backpacking. Hiking is one of the fundamental outdoor activities on which many others are based.
Enthusiasts regard hiking as the best way to see nature. It is better than a tour on a vehicle of any kind (or an animal; see horseback riding) because the hiker's senses are not intruded upon by distractions such as windows, engine noise, airborne dust in large quantities, and fellow passengers. It is better than standing in one place because the hiker may cover a wide area. On the other hand, hiking on a serious basis does require some degree of physical ability and knowledge, and hikers may get caught in inclement weather or suffer mishaps. Without a doubt, hiking is the only way to reach many beautiful places without chartering a helicopter.
Hiking safety issues and unforeseen circumstances
Any hike, regardless of duration or the familiarity of the route, may possibly go awry. Possible mishaps include injury, unexpectedly inclement weather, and losing the trail. A simple set of equipment may allow the hiker to escape from any of these predicaments. One list of such equipment is the Scout Outdoor Essentials. The ultimate decision whether or not to bring any of this equipment is entirely at the hiker's discretion, and many hikers opt to leave most or all of it at home.
Another simple safety precaution is to give the itinerary and expected time of return to someone not on the hike. If the hiking party fails to return reasonably close to the projected time, this person will notify authorities and search parties will be summoned.
Hiking in groups
It is wise never to hike alone. In any survival situation, a companion may be more helpful than any piece of gear. If one hiker becomes injured, the other can administer first aid and call for help. If a lone hiker becomes lost, he is more likely to panic and make bad decisions than a group of two or three hikers. If the weather turns foul, a group of hikers can pool its manpower, brainpower, and body heat.
Within a large group of hikers, there will usually be disparities in pace. In addition to making the hike less enjoyable, these disparities may create hazardous situations. A large party will often split into a "fast group" and a "slow group". If one of the two groups takes a wrong turn, it will be very difficult for them to be reunited.
If the party does not split, some members may hike at a faster pace than they should, which will increase their risk of injury. For these reasons, it may be safest to hike in a group of people with similar paces. However, considerations of pace should not deprive the group of a skilled hiker who would be of use in any survival situations that might arise.
How to hike