Top 8 Hiking Dangers
October 15, 2012 | Lists
If you can put up with the sheer discomfort and hygienic challenges of camping, for example, you can potentially save loads of cash on hotel room bills, while impressing your special someone by living like a railway hobo, minus the dysentery or showing yourself capable of blowing woodland creatures to kingdom come should they intrude on your marshmallow roasting (or if you just feel like it).
And what could be more picture-postcard romantic than climbing up some great precipice, linking arms with your amour and watching the sun rise, provided you’re not spotted by birders who think you’re up there to commit double suicide?
You don’t have to be a millionaire playboy debauching yourself in a mansion to enjoy stunning views (although it helps); nature’s bounty is there for anyone with enough gas money to drive to some backwoods place that’s a dumping ground for mob informants and shoes strong enough to crush scorpions or to drop-kick a mountain lion (note: this is not a widely accepted means of defending yourself from the threat of a mountain lion). Here are 8 Hiking Dangers everyone should be aware of.
Dehydration: Of all the possible hiking dangers (and there are so many of them, listing every one of them here would in effect mean an end to the practice) a commonly overlooked one is dehydration.
Altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) can quicken your breathing, thereby affecting how much water your body needs. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: not climbing to such an altitude. For all other kinds, according to the Mayo Clinic, producing lots of clear, dilute urine is a good indication that you’re well hydrated – or that your campsite is stocked with enough cold ones to stave off the crushing boredom of living outside of a wi-fi signal or dealing with a lack of human companionship.
There’s an equally easy means of avoiding the stuff: Toxicodendron radicans is only native to North America, so hike elsewhere, like in the immediate vicinity of your highly regarded Brussels hotel.
Bears: If Disney has taught us anything, it’s that these are gentle anthropomorphic honey-eaters who befriended and lived with Grizzly Adams for more than a decade.
While they’re easy-going and tend to avoid human contact, one of the problems with these animals, is not only do they have trouble thinking abstractly, but they have a serious difficulty differentiating between say you, and food. Pepper spray is a great defense. Treat the bear as if it’s an Occupy Wall St. malcontent (the analogy is apt – both groups are mostly dormant for long stretches of the year).
Ticks: Tick-borne illnesses can be fatal. Luckily, you can bathe yourself in clouds of DEET. Unfortunately, a team of French investigators found that the popular insect repellant can be neurotoxic (or, fortunately rather – depending on how paranoid you might be about DEET). A nasty bout of Lyme Disease is easily able to take down at least one member of your Lyme Disease Awareness Yahoo Meet-up Group.
Mountain Lions: The term “mountain” should be a tip-off here. Avoid climbing these and it stands to reason, unless the term is a misnomer, that you won’t see a mountain lion or they would’ve been renamed beach/dirt road/backyard/golf course lions.
If you should encounter one be forewarned: According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, they have a 20-foot vertical leap and can jump 40 feet horizontally in a single bound. This would be particularly devastating both to an NBA half-court offense and to you. They can take out 700 lb elk. Unless you can say the same thing, steer clear.
Avalanches: According to How Stuff Works, a hiker should be alert for fracture lines, hollow sounds, and “whumphing” noises, all of which can signal an impending avalanche. Blasting the 1993 dance floor rocker, “Whoomp! (There It Is)”, could also do the same. They also suggest taking a partner with you, which seems like an unnecessary means of instantly doubling avalanche fatality rates (Editor’s note: it should be clear that should you invite either of us for a hike in avalanche country, we’ll cite the above as a reason for declining the offer).
Hunters: According to the International Hunter Education Association, hunters accidentally shoot more than 1,000 people in the United States and Canada every year. Out of these, we assume 100% of them are hikers (and not people unluckily picked off while enjoying a beverage in a backyard hot tub). A particularly helpful Wikihow article advises, that the “most obvious method of evading gunfire is to avoid places such as war zones and bad neighborhoods where guns are used” (their italics).
Wear a bright orange vest so you don’t get mounted in a basement rec room. (There’s a fun urban legend circulating the web, suggesting that PETA was capturing deer and placing orange vests on them to help spare their lives).
Spiders: If you are bitten by either a black widow or brown recluse, you will not acquire the agility and proportionate strength of an arachnid, or a red rubber suit. Off Grid Survival, offers tips that are also handy on the dating scene: Watch where you are putting your hands.