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on safety
Navigation: The guidebook's directions should be read carefully, but paying attention to the way you came and when there is any doubt marking it is the best way to find your way back.
Since getting lost is always a possibility, prepare by bringing a flashlight, warm clothing extra water and snacks

Steep Trails: This is known as elevation gain in the hiking guidebooks.It is a factor to consider when choosing hikes. In the words of my physical therapist, if you want to do hills, you've got to train hills.

I find climbing very strenuous and in some situations it can be difficult to keep up with others in the party. My hiking partner is very kind and encouraging when I struggle with elevation gain and so I've always made it to the top. What I've learned from him is that it's better to keep moving forward, however slowly than to stop and sit. Another trick is to count your footsteps. I finally learned to count past sixty nine in French by counting my steps up a long hill. Other than that, just remember, "It ain't nothing".

Hydration: Clean fresh water is essential hiking equipment; minimally, I bring enough for 8 oz per hour per person. It's tempting to reduce the amount in order to lighten the pack but it's not the right approach because maintaining a steady consumption of water keeps us comfortable and makes the hike more enjoyable.
There are other ways to stay hydrated and refreshed. Steve and I bring sliced fruit such as grapes or orange wedges. Sports drinks are also good supplements to water but water is the most important refresher to bring along.
Mosquitos or Flies: A light application of a mosquito repellant with DEET can make a hike much more pleasant. An alternative to bug repellant is "Skin So Soft" by Avon.
Sun Protection: The sun has a bad reputation because over-exposure can lead to sun stroke, wrinkles and skin cancer. On the other hand being outside in natural light is becoming recognized as a natural anti-depressant. I think the best approach is to spend as much time outdoors as I can reasonably manage and protect my skin with sunscreen. I don't do strenuous hikes in the sun when temperatures are higher than I am accustomed to and when overheated, I find shade and stay hydrated. I rarely wear hats but they also provide protection that allows the wearer to get the best effects of sunshine and outdoor exercise.
Cliffs, ledges, and waterfalls: At the tops of cliffs that have no fences or barricades it's common to hear one hiker ask another if anyone has ever fallen. Often someone will tell a story of a hiker who died in a fall from that cliff. It happens. Pay attention to your location and to your footing and don't take risks.
by Dianne Bengtson
photography by Steve Robertson

Useful links about safety:

USDA Forest Service

Batteries and Graphic Design in Seaview, WA




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