by Richard Deets, Volunteer, and Former Search and Rescue Squad Member
Photo: Jake Siders
The exceptional views and activity on Tri-Valley’s trails are calling us! Thanks to recent rains, many plants and wildlife are thriving, which is a great thing to see on your hike. With proper attention to trail safety, we are in for some extraordinary adventures this year. Part of the fun of the outdoors is that you never know what you might see. Knowing the best way to handle some of the unexpected situations can help people feel more comfortable exploring nature. Richard Deets shared his top tips from his Search and Rescue experience to help you adventure into spring safely.2. gearing UPCheck the weather forecast to help you plan your gear, including your clothing. Wool and layers are the best insulators to keep you warm. Closed-toe high top walking shoes give your feet the best protection and support on trails. It’s always a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit.
1. IT’S BETTER TOGETHER: Not only is it fun to hike with others but it means you’ll have help if you become lost or injured. Plan a hike that is suitable for everyone in your group and let the slowest person set the pace. Before leaving, tell someone at home where you are going and when you expect to return.
2. GEARING UP: Check the weather forecast to help you plan your gear, including your clothing. Wool and layers are the best insulators to keep you warm. Closed-toe high top walking shoes give your feet the best protection and support on trails. It’s always a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit.
3. ENERGIZE: Having enough of the right provisions can make your hike much more enjoyable and safe. How much is enough? For a two hour hike, bring at least a liter of water per person. Drinking a little water often while hiking will keep you hydrated. A quart size bag of simple snacks for each person is enough for a short day hike. Carrying a full lunch can get heavy. Munching a handful of trail mix while you enjoy a rest is all it takes to keep your energy up.
4. WATCH THE WATER: Natural water is beautiful but even shallow creeks can be very strong. Water moving just 5 miles an hour can knock down and injure a healthy adult. Even dry creek beds can suddenly become like a highway in a flash flood that starts higher up. It’s best to use a bridge over moving water and save dipping your toes for calmer waters like lakes and swimming holes with posted signage for swimming.
5. THE WILD IN WILDLIFE: A glimpse of wildlife on your hike can feel magical. It’s good to remember that wildlife are indeed wild and will most likely get scared if you approach them. Avoid getting too close to rattlesnakes and other animals. A fantastic photo with your phone isn’t worth it. Stay at least six feet away until it is safe to slowly back up and give the animal room to leave the area. If someone does get bitten by a poisonous snake, call 911.
6. LET THE TRAIL BE YOUR GUIDE: With all the plant growth from the rains, staying on the trail let’s you see where you’re going so you’re less likely to trip, fall, run into poison oak, or surprise wildlife–which may not like surprises. If you can’t see solid ground ahead of you, keep your feet and hands out to help keep yourself from falling on, in, or off anything you may not be able to see under the grass.
It’s truly gorgeous out on the trails this spring. I hope these tips help you get out and experience nature! While you’re out there, consider capturing a photo of the beautiful lands that you help protect. Photos in our Freeze Frame Photography Competition display your talent in photography and land preservation while inspiring others to save more lands forever.