Follow these five steps to become a more prepared and safe hiker!
DO YOUR RESEARCH
There are tons of places to get information about a hike. Do more than just see a picture on a social media platform and head off into the woods.The State of Hawaii provides an excellent resource with their Na Ala Hele website. Here you can find information and routes for all the hikes in Hawaii. Remember, that unlike other States, only marked State trails are considered legal for hiking. If you are going to venture beyond the legal trails make sure you check multiple sources for details and remember that just because one person says something is an easy 2 hour stroll, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the same for you.
CHECK THE WEATHER
Hawaii has dynamic, ever changing weather, which can directly impact you on a hike. Yes, we are a tropical island that enjoys the warm Pacific breezes, but did you know that on the Big Island, it’s not unusual to have snow in the higher elevations? What starts off as a nice sunny day walk through a lush, narrow valley can quickly become a downpour in a tight spot prone to flash flooding. Heading out on a ridge on a cloudy day? You’d better be ready for the winds to pick up or the sun to come out. The National Weather Service provides forecasting services for Hawaii, as do many other websites and news stations. Be sure to get an forecast before you head out and even better have an app on your phone to keep updated on weather changes throughout your hike.
PACK YOUR BAG
There are, at a minimum, 10 essential items you should always carry in your bag when you go hiking, no matter what duration or type of hike you are taking. You can always pack more, but don’t leave home without these items.
SHARE YOUR PLAN
Make sure a friend always knows where you are going, and when you will be back, especially if you are hiking alone (which is something OSAR strongly discourages). You can do this by simply messaging them or even better, fill out a detailed hiking plan so if something goes wrong, there is a good starting point for rescue crews to get to you. Check out some examples here.
IF LOST: S.T.O.P
Even prepared hikers can get lost. If you find yourself somewhere other than planned, remember to STOP!
– S: STOP / SIT. Force yourself to take a break until you feel you are in control.
– T: THINK. This will be a challenge if you are not calm, it is very hard to be logical while panicking. You need to try and analyze your situation thoroughly.
– O: OBSERVE. Take note of your surroundings for potential opportunities and threats. What resources do you have that can help in the emergency? Have you brought your navigation, shelter or first aid supplies? Is there edible vegetation and drinkable water in your vicinity? Are you in a dangerous area that you need to move away from?
– P: PLAN. Once you have sat down, calmed down, thought about your priorities and basic needs, and observed what resources are available to you, both in your pack and in the surrounding environment, then you can make a well-thought out and informed plan of action