When it comes to life in the great outdoors, few places on earth are as blessed as BC. With the spring and summer hiking season about to get going, you may be thinking about hitting one of the many hiking trails in our area. There are many to choose from but your first choice is always to put safety first.
Here are a few tips and ideas for making your trek a safe one.
Choose your trail
Before you head out, always make sure you plan ahead. Check out Vancouver Trails for an excellent rundown of nearly every hiking trail in the BC South Coast. They provide information such as length of the trail, incline and difficulty, where to find it, whether or not it is pet friendly, and amenities on or near the trail. Some trails can be extremely challenging and long, requiring an overnight stay. Know your ability and don’t push yourself to the point of injury.
Check weather and gear
On the day of your hike, check weather conditions and make sure you have the appropriate gear – including a change of clothes, the right footwear, and rain gear. Conditions can change quickly especially if you’re hiking through different elevations and things like wet rocks can be very slippery.
Pack snacks and water
While some trails are very close to amenities or even within city limits, others can take you deep into the forests and backcountry. Make sure that you’ve packed enough water and food to last the journey. You need to stay hydrated and fueled for both the physical demands of a hike and your own mental alertness.
Tell your friends
Never go hiking alone – not only is it more enjoyable with friends, it’s safer that way. Even after recruiting a hiking buddy or two, make sure that someone else knows your plans including where you are going, when you are leaving, and when you expect to be back. Bring along a charged cellphone to contact your friends if you get separated, run late, or change your plans. And check in again when you’re back.
Respect our four-legged friends
Metro Vancouver may be one of the most populated parts of Canada, but it’s also home to many wild creatures like coyotes, cougars, bears, and more. Some of these you don’t want to encounter when you’re in the middle of the forest. When they feel threatened, they can be a danger. Make a bit of noise along your hike to let them know you’re there (they really don’t want to be around humans and will gladly stay to themselves if they know you’re coming), but if you do come across a bear or other large animal, give them their space and calmly back away.
From the weather to the trail itself, in rain or under the hot sun, trail conditions change all the time. And some trails have special requirements or rules. Many of the marked trails in the area will have signs posted throughout to let you know what the conditions and rules are. Follow them! They are they for everyone’s enjoyment and safety.
For more information
- Hiking Safety, RCMP in BC
- Hiking Safety and Ethics in British Columbia, British Columbia Adventure Network
- Get informed and go outdoors, AdventureSmart