Planning for a solo hike? Here are some suggestions for your safety

4 mins read

News headlines in the last few months report hikers going solo but ending up missing, injured, or even found lifeless.

For instance, a San Jose hiker last week was reported missing at Point Reyes National Seashore and turned up dead at the bottom of a cliff. Another hiker from Nevada was also found dead after being reported missing while hiking in Yosemite. And two weeks have passed, but another runner, Phillip Kreycik, remains missing after going for a solo run.

There are several reasons behind these incidents and to keep you safe for your next adventure — whether you are going to hike, run, or go backpacking — consider these experts’ suggestions for your safety, as reported by San Francisco Chronicle.

Come prepared

“The biggest thing is just a lack of preparedness,” Tahoe Rim Trail Association executive director Morgan Steel said. “Especially this time of year, we don’t have those real solitude types of experiences where you’re on the trail by yourself, but I think sometimes, that can give people a false sense of security.”

Be knowledgeable of the trail you want to pursue

Make sure that you have studied your path and the period you need to allot to achieve it, whether you are pursuing a far location or a high trail. Be armed with information regarding trail closures as well as places where you can replenish your water or restroom needs.

“You should really tailor where you’re going to your comfort level,” Sierra District of the California state parks superintendent Daniel Canfield said.

Prepare enough, prepare properly

Come in an outfit suited for the activity. A pair of sturdy hiking boots and clothes you can layer can keep you going.

Make sure that you hydrate properly and have packed sufficiently. “When somebody spends a lot of time outdoors and they haven’t hydrated correctly, it could be a threat to their life,” Sandoval said.

Inform others of your adventure, or tag someone along

Experts noted that people who decide to hike alone are falling at great risk.

“We were taught from a very early age about the buddy system, and the safety of going out in pairs,”  Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Misti Wood said. “That still stands even now, as adults.”

If you decide to go solo, make sure that someone knows your travel plan. Share to him/her your expected date of return and the precise trail you wanted to follow.

Watch out for off-trail and heat risks

There is a higher probability for you to get lost when walking off the trail, according to Sandoval. Last week, athlete Fred Zalokar who went off-trail was found lifeless in Yosemite.

Also, be mindful of the weather as extreme conditions like heat can pose danger. Avoid hiking during extremely hot days and make sure to hydrate well.

Keep in touch

Experts say that it is always a great idea to bring your phone when going hiking.

It can help when you get lost through its location features, Wood said, and can help you notify authorities if you need help.

Abigail Kouma

Abigail is a caffeine-fueled bookworm and journalist from Marin County. She's passionate about art and constantly searching for new ways to express creativity and stay on beat with the cultural scene in SF.