Heard of the movie The Good Doctor? He mysteriously knows how to attend to almost every complication of an injury with an uncanny knack in providing a solution for the patients or accident victim. But hey, this is only a movie. We don’t have doctors in this world with supernatural powers.
But let’s ask, “What makes a good hiker”? Good hiking shoes? Going with others that love walking? Many reasons make a good hiker. We briefly cover seven points in this article and welcome you sharing with the community your tips and experiences in what makes a good hiker. Have fun reading!
- BUDDY UP!
In hikes, it is useful to have a buddy. Your buddy would be a person that you can get to know along the hike, and an opportunity to build a friendship. Exchanging notes with your buddy about any physical conditions and challenges you have helps. Your buddy is better prepared in any odd or emergency situations. Your buddy and you might exchange any first aid knowledge and experiences including situations in past hikes where both of you may have had a physical problem. Remember, you need to be there for your buddy as well!
- UNDERSTAND MOVEMENT MECHANICS
Ever felt a slight warp in your foot, or a twist in your knee as you walked? Eager hikers might race forward with dynamism; seconds later, they are panting for air or feeling rather uncomfortable in their physical movements. Good hikers learn mechanics of their bodies, and the movement required when hiking uphill and downhill. They reduce impact and injury to any part of the hips, knees, feet and muscles. They use their movements to their advantage. Here are some tips on movement mechanics:
- reduce steps when going uphill (prevent injury or pain to your hip flexors), and downhill (retains your centre of mass over your leading foot and to avoid slipping or falling).
- tie shoelaces tightly to prevent and minimise blisters to any part of your feet.
- use hiking poles to reduce impact to knees when going uphill and downhill.
- START EARLY!
You’ve heard of the saying, ‘the early bird catches the worm’. In any hike, it’s best to start at first light. Hikers that arise earlier for a hike are usually chirpier. Our body is more responsive during a hike if we had good sleep. A Heidelberg study in people arising earlier showed that those that tend to rise early have more physical energy. The plus points in getting out of bed early are over-riding for it shows people with more positivity, are optimistic, and are healthier mentally.
- LEARN FIRST AID
“Hands up! Anyone knows first aid?” is a question that might be asked before a hike commences. Yet, did you put your hand up? Good for you that you did. But the next question comes hurtling down after the first, “Have you ever given first aid?” And with a meek smile, you might reply a soft, “No”.
Learning first aid allows you to administer some form of it for yourself, or for someone else in your hiking group. Our knowledge or experience of first aid can reduce pain in an injury or save a life. A good hiker will take it upon him or herself to be armed with first aid knowledge, and be ready to offer assistance in an emergency during the hike.
- LEARN HOW TO READ A MAP, AND HOW TO USE A COMPASS
Know how to read a map, and a compass? Some might ask of the need to when there is already a park or forest map. And there is likely an experienced hiker in the group. But much like first aid, we can build our skills in topography (map reading) when using a forest trail map, or a basic map that you can try and obtain from the Department of Survey and Mapping Malaysia (Ministry of Water, Land & Natural Resources). Learning to navigate with a compass can be fun. There are many examples on the web in learning how to use a compass.
- ENJOY THE SURROUNDINGS
A good hiker stops and gets others to stop as well to enjoy the panoramic views of the city, the flora and fauna of the trail or forest. There are also the interesting and peculiar sounds of the trail where you might hear a woodpecker, a cicada, or even a wild boar. With our cameras, we can capture wonderful memories of our hike to share with others.
- ESTABLISH YOUR SAFETY PROTOCOL
Good hikers have a tendency to use safety protocols before the walk commences. They know a hike can go wrong when they least expect it and the group might get lost during a hike. You might recall an earlier post we shared last year about a group that became lost during a hike and rescuers were sent out to find them. A safety protocol can encompass the following:
- inform the park of your hiking schedule – trails to be taken, start and end times, number of people in your group, physical conditions of anyone (they will be more prepared if there is an emergency or a helicopter evacuation is required).
- use a mark or spot locator; whilst this offers no guarantees in a rescue searching for your group, it gives a more assured safety protocol than not having a mark or spot locator (A mark or spot locator determines your GPS location and sends your location and pre-programmed message to communication satellites).
A good hiker recognises the purpose and importance of an effective safety protocol and irrespective of the number of hikes, a Good Hiker religiously incorporates multiple safety checks.