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Hiking • 2

by mythic44

Equipment

The equipment required for hiking depends on the length of the hike, and according to the source. Hikers generally carry water, food, and a map in a backpack. Hikers often wear hiking boots to protect their feet from rough terrain. Some outdoor organizations, such as The Mountaineers strongly advocate a list of equipment for hiking, such as the Ten Essentials. This list includes items such as a compass, sunglasses, sunscreen, clothes, flashlight, first aid kit, fire starter, and knife. Other sources suggest additional items such as insect repellent and an emergency blanket. Nowadays a GPS navigation device is a great help especially in weather conditions with low visibility or when hiking in unknown territories.

Environmental impact – Hikers often seek beautiful natural environments in which to hike. Many hikers espouse the philosophy of Leave No Trace: hiking in a way such that future hikers cannot detect the presence of previous hikers. Practitioners of this philosophy obey its strictures, even in the absence of area regulations. Followers of this practice follow strict practices on dealing with food waste, food packaging, and alterations to the surrounding environment.

Etiquette of hiking – Because hiking is a recreational experience, hikers expect it to be pleasant. Sometimes hikers can interfere with each others’ enjoyment, or that of other users of the land. Hiking etiquette has developed to minimize such interference. For example:

  • When two groups of hikers meet on a steep trail, there may be contention for use of the trail. To avoid conflict, a custom has developed in some areas whereby the group moving uphill has the right-of-way.
  • Being forced to hike much faster or slower than one’s natural pace can be annoying, and difficult to maintain consistently. More seriously, walking unnaturally fast dramatically increases fatigue and exhaustion, and may cause injury. If a group splits between fast and slow hikers, the slow hikers may be left behind or become lost. A common custom is to encourage the slowest hiker to hike in the lead and have everyone match that speed. Another custom is to have experienced hiker(s) sweep up the rear on a rota, to ensure that everyone in the group is safe and nobody straggles.
  • Hikers generally enjoy the peace of their natural surroundings. Loud sounds such as shouting or loud conversation, or the use of mobile phones, disrupt this enjoyment.

Hazards – Hiking may produce threats to personal safety. These threats can be dangerous circumstances while hiking and/or specific accidents or ailments. Noxious plants that cause rashes can be particularly bothersome to hikers. Such plants include poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac, milkweed, andstinging nettles.

Dangerous hiking circumstances include losing the way, inclement weather, hazardous terrain, or exacerbation of pre-existing medical conditions. Specific accidents include metabolic imbalances (such as dehydration or hypothermia), topical injuries (such as frostbite or sunburn), attacks by animals, or internal injuries (such as ankle sprain).

Attacks by humans are also a reality. There are organizations that promote prevention, self defense and escape. Cell phone and GPS devices are used by some organizations.

In various countries, borders may be poorly marked. It is good practice to know where international borders are. For example, in 2009, Iran seized three American hikers for crossing over the Iran-Iraq border while hiking. Many nations, such as Finland, have specific rules governing hiking across borders.

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