If you were to go through my hiking posts, you would see that I hike alone a lot. This isn’t by choice, but Ryan isn’t as avid a hiker as I am and he prefers to rest and relax on weekends whereas I need to get up and go!
My grandma is always telling me how much she worries about me but I always feel perfectly safe. Here are a few tips that I use when I go hiking alone.
1. Tell someone what trail you are doing and how long you expect it to take
I always text Ryan the name of the trail I’m doing, how far it is, and how long I expect it to take. I text because I know if I don’t come home he will forget the trail name, but this way he has it in his phone. Always be sure to do this!
2. Take your dog
Rocky is not a fighter and I don’t expect him to protect me in the case of a bear or cougar attack. But he will alert me of their presence, he’ll bark before he runs away so at least I know there is something there. He may also scare them away if he’s running along the trail and through the brush.
3. Bring the Bear spray
Always have bear spray on you (yes I know- its human seasoning!) but make sure you know how to use it! I hiked with my can for about two years before I really looked at it and realized that the safety zip tie was still on it so I couldn’t have used it if I needed it!
4. Talk to your dog or whistle while you walk
They always say to make noise on the trail which is easy when you’re with someone but not when you’re alone. I talk to Rocky as we hike and I’m sure other hikers think I’m crazy, but really I’m just making some noise. I’ll also whistle sometimes.
5. Don’t Wear Headphones
I used to always hike with headphones until forgot them and I enjoyed my hike so much more! You take in your surroundings more and you can hear rustlings or odd sounds.
6. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Watch the trail for bear scat, be aware if there are a lot of berries alongside your trail, if you’re crossing a stream or river, look both ways to see if any animals are having a drink or fishing.
7. Ask about trails with recent sightings or warnings
I do most of my hiking in a National park (Waterton) so when I pull in, I’ll ask the Park Ranger about the trail I intend to hike. Have there been any recent sightings or warnings? If there is a sighting, I’ll still go but be vigilant, if there is a warning I’ll pick a different trail.
8. Stick to well-travelled trails
If you’re alone, its safer to pick a trail that has frequent hikers on it. Again, the noise and traffic will deter predators. I know I feel safe when I pass a large group of hikers.
9. Bring a first aid kit
Never go without a first aid kit. It’s so much better to be safe than sorry. I’ve never had to use mine but the day I do I know I’ll be glad to have it.
10. Bring emergency safety supplies
I always keep a flint in my hiking bag, even on short hikes. You never know when you may have to start a fire. If I were going really deep, I might bring a small tarp or emergency blanket as well.
I’m no hiking expert, but these are the ten tips I follow when I go hiking alone. Happy trails!