Situational awareness is important wherever you go and for whatever you are doing; hiking trails are not any different. My article yesterday discussed checking the weather before you go out for your hike, having situational awareness about the weather is just one of those steps. There are other things to consider when developing your situational awareness. Things that you will want to consider include difficulty of the hike, safety issues, and any crime in the area. Situational awareness is not only preparation it has to be maintained while on the hike.
The first thing to consider when planning your hike is determining the difficulty of the hike. Is the hike within your physical and psychological abilities at this time? There are sites available that rate different hikes, but you could also ask other hikers if there is not a rating. If it is not an established trail but you just want to hike it take some time to assess the difficulty before you set out. Difficulty of the hike is important to consider as it could make a difference in having an enjoyable experience or being miserable.
The next thing to take into consideration for your hike is the safety issues that are present on a hike. Are there any areas where you could fall or slip? Are there know animal attacks in the area? Is it fire season and a storm is moving in? Is there a possibility of snow or lightening? All of these things should be taken into consideration as possible safety issues to plan for ahead of your hike.
Unfortunately, crime is on the rise everywhere including hiking trails. There are more homeless camps all over Northern Nevada as well as other areas in the U.S. including near trails and other outdoor areas. Not all homeless camps bring an element of crime but some do and if you are not prepared for what you may encounter it can be a problem. There is other criminal activity to be concerned about when heading out for a hike especially if you are alone. Most hikes probably will not involve any confrontation with crime but with the increase of crime in your area, there is a chance that will be spill over into your hiking area.
Situational awareness is not only a preparatory action; you must constantly assess your surroundings pre-hike and during. Pay attention to what is going on around you; is the weather changing? did a fire start? is there some people present that don’t make you feel comfortable? Are there changes on the trail that you did not notice before or were not aware of? The best way to remain attentive to your surroundings is to have all of your senses; yes that means leave your earbuds at home. Come on you should be enjoying the outdoors anyways. Continually assess the area around you while you are on your hike to keep your situational awareness keen. Pay attention when you are out on your hike so you can keep it enjoyable. Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment about staying aware.