Safety Tips for Appalachian Trail Hikers
The autonomy to enjoy hiking in the Appalachian Trail comes with greater responsibilities of being prepared, informed and a common call of being more observant with the surrounding.
Despite being one of the safest trails, it still has no immune against criminal behavior; cases of crimes with violence are increasingly becoming the order of the day. Likelihood of coming across person who wants to injure or harm you is more prone to occur near the roads and at the shelters but the reality is that it can happen anywhere. Acts of kindness are also common on the Appalachian Trail though most of them happen in the form of trail magic.
Safety awareness is key in this trail and is your best line of defense, you brain will generate you some of the deadliest weapons that your intruder can hardly come up with.
Dial 911 to report emergency help
You can report any emergency illegal or suspicious incidents by dialing (304) 535-6331. 911 also functions, ensure you get some few other emergency numbers that are usually provided on all official A.T maps.
Prepare for any risks
There are high chances a ranger or any other law enforcer will not be nearby when trouble occurs, bearing this in mind, it’s advisable to always prepare yourself and think ahead should a troublesome scenario appear, trust your instincts and always prepare to act where need arises.
Speak and let someone know of your plans
If you are planning to go for a one day hike, tell someone the exact places you intend to go and the routes you will pass while retreating, for long distances hike, it’s recommended you leave a copy of your hiking guidebook, keep check in as you accomplish every stage of your hiking and indicate your next stop. Always let someone know of any abrupt changes that you make in the trip, otherwise you may worry your family members and make them start a needless search.
Use current trail maps
Hiking in lone and abandoned trails can be quite dangerous, you may not know the exact reason why the trail was actually abandoned and you may end up in trouble. This also calls for a need to use current maps as old maps may misguide you. You will also find it easy to describe your location and people can easily detect and identify your location at any time of the hike. Avoid bushwhacking as this can get you injured in unknown locations which may result in delay in rescue efforts. (Image by Dennis Wilkinson)
It’s quite easier to evade a hazardous situation than actually being in it. Pay close attention to every small detail of your surroundings, this includes people you encounter, send red flags early if you detect danger.
Never camp near trailheads or roads
Always avoid camping near trail heads; these will see you avoid distractions or even chances of theft. Keep your car keys always at hand; you can leave the door partly open just in case you need to quickly exit the camp site. (Image by Richard Thuillier)
You may consider applying these tips also in other places you go for camping or hiking. Remember to always contact the tour guides whenever you are in difficulties, you can also go for hiking in larger groups to maximize security.
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Featured image courtesy by John