You don’t need much for a hike, but you do need a little. Wear sturdy shoes or boots—no flip-flops, please—and throw these in your backpack before you hit the trail:
The trail zigzags down a steep hillside laced with delicate ferns. Amy and Mari begin trudging down the path. You can’t help but think it would be quicker to cut straight down the hill. What should you do?
There are two reasons why it’s best to follow Amy and Mari. First, wandering off by yourself is a good way to get lost or left behind. Second, if everyone who used the trail veered off the path, the ferns and other plants would quickly get trampled.
You’re leading the hike and reach a large log that has fallen across the trail. There’s no way to walk around it. What should you do?
There’s no way to know what’s behind a fallen log. You don’t want to step in a huge patch of poison ivy, trample a tasty morel mushroom, or wake a venomous snake from its nap. It’s best to step on top of the log, peek over, then carefully step down.
Everyone stops to rest beside a gurgling stream. You peel off your boots and dip your toes in the cool water. It smells sweet. It looks clean. The water in your canteen, on the other hand, has grown warm and stale. You’re thirsty. What should you do?
Stream water might look clean, but it’s probably full of germs. One sip and you’ll be sick. So, stick with water from your canteen. For ice-cold water all hike long, fill your canteen three-quarters full and freeze it the night before.
A shiny green beetle captures your attention. You pull out a magnifying glass and crouch down for a peek. When you stand up, Mari and Amy have disappeared. You run after them, but come to a fork in the trail. What should you do?
When you’re separated from your group—or if you get lost—hug a tree, stay put and wait for people to find you. Blow a whistle if you have one. The sound will guide searchers to your location.
The tunnel of trees you’ve been hiking through opens into a meadow. Thousands of pretty wildflowers dot the hillside. Your mom loves flowers, and you probably owe her for that vase you broke playing catch in the kitchen. What should you do?
It probably wouldn’t hurt a thing if you picked a handful of flowers for mom. But, what if everyone who used the trail picked a handful? Soon the flowers would be gone. Take only pictures; leave only footprints.
Nichole LeClair Terrill