We are human and we make mistakes. Sometimes we are in a rush or we just learned to take ‘hiking’ for granted, thinking nothing bad will happen, because it didn’t in the previous trip. Of course, we should always still try to plan as best as we can and learn from any mistakes we made to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Here are some of the things that have happened to me that I learn from.
1. Not checking up on the weather
Underestimating that the weather won’t get any worse is a mistake. It’s important to check on the forecast, what’s starts out as pleasant cool breeze can be a start to a very cold time outdoors. Best be prepared and bring sufficient layers.
2. No trip planning
Take your time and plan your trip; google where you are going, ask experienced friends about the route you are taking, ask about the experience of your guide, check your gear, etc. Having excel sheets like to-do lists and gear lists is a great way to keep a check that you have done and checked everything. You wouldn’t want to go all the way to the start of a hike and find out that it’s been blocked. Worse yet, not having a backup hike nearby.
3. Not learning how to navigate
In the UAE, we do not have maps for the hiking trails, nor do we have proper established hiking trails. For that matter, we should make sure to know everything about the place we are going to, there are apps like Wikiloc and Google maps, GPS devices like watches to plan and track our hike. Study where you are going before you set off. If you are not sure, then drop your ego and head back.
4. Not bringing the rain cover for the tent
Again, not checking the weather forecast or worse yet, not believing the forecast. So you leave the rain cover back home or in the car just to save some weight while backpacking.
5. Having the goats eat your food
Since goats have gotten used to people feeding them, they seem not to be shy approaching our camping grounds. Left any food outside? Don’t expect it to be there within minutes.. Best to keep everything in your car.
6. Not taking care of your feet
There are a couple of reasons why blisters happen and they can be avoided. It seems almost everyone is susceptible to blisters when they first start hiking, but people learn with time how to avoid them. I always advise, at the first feeling that you are developing a hot spot, best to stop and attend to it before it becomes a blister. Don’t wait until the end of the day.
7. Carrying way too much
Talking about being prepared, could we be a little too prepared? Items might seem like they weigh nothing at first but once you start adding up all the weight, you end up with a backpack weighing about 25kgs. There are lots of ways to cut down weight, from putting a full bottle sunscreen on to a very small travel size bottle to buying an expensive tent that has some magical way to make it weigh less than 2kgs.
8. Bringing the wrong equipment
Other than making the mistake of carrying too much, you may not test your gear while at home and end up with something that may not be as useful outdoors. Or worse, buying the wrong equipment based on what the inexperienced salesperson sold you. Always research online and read reviews about the product you wish to buy and test it at home once you get it.
9. Not taking care of the environment
It is our responsibility to take care of the environment. If you the outdoors and like to see it pretty then it is our responsibility to keep it clean. Whatever you pack in, pack out. In other words, if you are strong enough to carry those packages of food, plastic water bottles, toilet paper on to the wild, then you can be strong enough to take it out with you.
10. Not taking enough water
We have touched on gear, but most important is the water. The maximum amount of time a person can live without water is a week. But that can be reduced to mere hours in an extremely hot climate such as the UAE. Always have enough water and more. Some electrolytes can be saviors too!