Do This. Always Do This.

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Have you read the incredible story of Aron Ralston – the man who was trapped in a slot canyon in Utah and only escaped after cutting off his own hand? Though a hero for his bravery, Ralston is a lesson of what NOT to do on a hike. He came to realize – too late – that his unpreparedness and above all, not telling anyone of his whereabouts, were grave errors that almost cost him his life.

While Aron’s story is one of extraordinary circumstances, it’s always best to play it safe, even on short hikes near home. Hiking is not a dangerous sport as long as you are prepared! The most dangerous part of your hike is the car trip to the trailhead.

So, what can you do to ensure you’re safety in the outdoors? Oddly enough, one of the best things you can do you should do before you even leave for your hike or other outdoor adventure: Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. If you do that, even if everything else goes awry, someone will know when to start looking for you and where to look for you. This is truly crucial on each and every single hike. Let’s face it – it’s usually the short hikes that find us least prepared because we approach them as no big deal.

Additionally, American Hiking suggests the following for every hike:

1. Carry extra food, water, and a flashlight
2. Pack the Ten Essentials for every hike!
3. Check the weather and dress accordingly (in layers)
4. Use a map and compass

You don’t have to be a survival expert to enjoy the outdoors. Hiking is one of the safest, most fun, and least expensive outdoor activities for all ages. Just be smart and let someone know where you’ll be hiking and when you should be back. Then hit the trail for an adventure!