Make sure someone else knows where you are going and when you will be back. It doesn't hurt to leave a note in your car at the trailhead with your plans and the time you left. That really helps search and rescue if something happens.
Those of you that know me know I am really big on planning and doing research on my trips. Maybe its years of Boy Scouts growing up but the �Motto Be Prepared�, has helped me out a lot through the years while some of my companions haven�t be so lucky. Plan your hike, know roughly how long it is going to take. You don't want to be hiking out in the dark. Starting early, is a great idea it gives the time to walk especially if you have a large elevation gain. If you are day hiking have a turn around time in mind and stick to it.
Pace your hike, a leisurely hike is much more enjoyable. Take time to enjoy your surroundings, take some pictures, view the wildlife, point out interesting things to the kids, take time to listen to the young members of your hiking group they notice stuff we sometimes don�t.
Drink plenty of water, stop when you get thirsty and it helps to have a drink before a long climb. Water is heavy to carry but necessary on most hikes.
Keep the energy coming, eat an energy bar or snack on GORP as you go along. If you are taking children on the hike making your own GORP and involving them not only makes the GORP taste better and gives you the energy you need. Sweets will give you that instant burst that you will use on the trail. Don�t worry about calories you are burning them off faster then you can eat them.
Stop when the slowest member of the hike needs to. Don't make them have to ask. Placing them in the lead of the hike can help pace the group better. Happy hikers make better companions. Not every hike has to be a race, but keep track of your pace so you don�t get stuck.
Make sure you have rain gear, just in case. I cannot stress this enough not only does it keep you dry it will keep you warm. Weather can change in a matter of minutes when hiking in the mountains. You need to stay warm and dry, hypothermia is the number one killer of outdoor recreationists. Many people do not relieze that the majority of hypothermia cases occur in air tempatures between 30 and 50 degrees. Being wet in these situations can easily kill you.
Bug repellent is a must on just about any hike. Deer flies and mosquitos seem to get bigger every year.
Crossing Streams safely...
Stop at streams to take a moment to rest. Check out the situation prior to crossing. There is most likely an easy way and a hard way to cross. In the summer it isn't too big of a problem but you never know unless you stop and think. That clear mountain (icy cold) stream might look 2 feet deep and actually be 5 feet deep. Not to mention very slippery. Look for a wide section to cross, water moves quickly in narrower areas of the stream. If you have to wade across, don�t take off your boots. Traction from boots or camp shoes is much better than bare feet. However, take off your socks and put them back on once you�ve crossed. Also a walking stick is helpful in crossing if you do not have trekking poles with you it might be a good idea to find a couple sticks to help you balance. Loosen your shoulder straps on your pack and take off your hip straps, if you fall in you want to be able to slip out of your pack fast you don�t want your pack pulling you under.
After crossing, be aware of the hypothermia danger.
Hiking in the Rain...
Goretex gear is a god send. But you can survive with just a small poncho. Protect your gear as well, have a pack cover and keep your extra clothing in water proof bags. Dress in layers, you will have to change clothes if they get wet and if you start to sweat. Stay dray and stay alive. Try and keep your feet dry to prevent blisters.
Keep hypothermia in mind, wind and rain can turn even a 60 degree day into a dangerous condition. Stay aware of symptoms of hypothermia in other people. You rarely notice your own condition. Stop and build a fire if necessary. And put on dry clothing.
Don�t let the rain get you down, some of my best trips it rained most of the time. Not only is it definitely great for reducing the crowds on busy trails but wildlife become more active. With the rain making you quieter on the trail you are more likely to spot wildlife that may of heard you coming in drier conditions.
Don't forget to bring a camera to save your adventure.
Have a great trip.