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5 Steps To Stay Safe While Hiking This Fall

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
Hiking in high elevation during the fall brings incredible adventure and views, but it also brings danger. Here are five ways to stay safe.


Each year, the news features some unfortunate stories about hikers who venture into the back country during the fall and winter to explore nature, only to get lost or stranded. It's crucial to stay safe and be prepared when hiking during the "off-season."

Before you set off on your next weekend hike into the mountains, make sure you check these five steps off your safety list.

1. Avalanches
Avalanches occur without warning and are nearly impossible to survive. Furthermore, they tend to occur in the back country, where human avalanche prevention rarely occurs. Before you set off on your hike, check the avalanche reports and precautions; if the area you want to explore is at a high danger for an avalanche, don't go there. Period. In Colorado, you can check out the Rocky Mountain avalanche warnings here.

2. Weather
Check the weather report before you set out on a hike. Just because it's sunny and 80 degrees where you begin doesn't mean that the weather will hold steady at your back country destination. Look for potential lightning warnings if you'll hike above the tree line. Beware of impending snow storms, below-freezing temperatures, and flash flood rain storms.

3. Time
Ideally, you want to begin your hikes early in the morning so you won't be caught in the woods after dark. Not only is is scary, but it's much easier to lose your way after the sun drops. Don't let the summer hiking time frame guide your decision, as the sun sets much earlier in the fall and winter.

4. Gear
Be prepared for the worst. Bring emergency gear, like a first aid kit, fire-starting equipment, and a pocket knife, along with the proper attire to sleep in if you do get lost. Even if rain isn't in the forecast, bring a waterproof shell and a mid-weight top to preserve body heat.

5. Nutrition
Make sure to eat healthy, nutritious meals before you leave for your hike, along with consuming plenty of water. If you do get lost in the woods, it helps to at least begin your trek to safety with a well-hydrated body. Bring extra food and water with you in case you do encounter an emergency situation.

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Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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