Thanks to humans staying home more than ever before, more animals have been roaming urban areas, changing the way we interact with nature and critters from the natural world. And while this might mean rats if you live in an urban area, it could also mean the arrival of wildlife you’ve never seen before.
But for those who hit the trails on a regular basis, there’s a good chance that other common animals—such as bears, snakes, lions, moose, and coyotes—could appear, and you won’t have a clue how to protect yourself. Worse, Mother Nature could test you and cause your well-trodden hiking trail to disappear, leaving you lost in the wilderness.
Fear not: There are ways even novice hikers can be prepared for the worst trail encounters. Here are a few safety precautions to take before your next trek.
Assume You’ll Get Lost
Whether you’re a seasoned trail pro or a backpacking enthusiast, getting lost on trails is the biggest survival threat you’ll face, beating out knowing how to outsmart common dangers, such as hypothermia and blisters. According to the American Hiking Society, your best defense is to do three things: Learn how to use a compass, become familiar with trail maps, and tell your friends and/or a park ranger before you depart about your route and estimated return time. Observing trail markers, such as landmarks and crossings, will help you retrace your route home if the hiking trail becomes obscured. It also pays to prepare for the worst: Check with local authorities about search and rescue procedures, and consider travel insurance, which can help you cover any bills if you require an emergency rescue.
Stay Calm: It’ll Help You Face Bears