10 Things Every Hiker Should Know

10 Things Every Hiker Should Know

Fall is here and that means truly a magical time of year is upon us. The leaves are changing, temperatures are cool and crisp, and now is the time to grab your hiking shoes, load up the backpack, and hit the trails.

Hiking is an amazing way to experience the mountains surrounding Asheville. Stunning waterfalls appear around the bend in the trail. With each step the rustling of the fall leaves under foot sooth the soul. There’s an almost spiritual quality many hikers describe when in the mountains, and we hope you take the opportunity to get outside and hike a bit during your Asheville vacation. 

However, like any outdoor activity, there are a few things you can do to ensure a safe and fun experience. This week we have ten great tips on how to stay safe and prepare for a day in the mountains. 

Know your limits

Perhaps nothing gets hikers in trouble more than not knowing their limits and abilities. When people head into the mountains they are often excited. They look for hard trails with the beautiful vistas and those rare spots of solitude that come from a hard hike. However, consider this, if the longest walk you’ve taken recently is a couple of miles around the neighborhood you probably are not prepared to take a ten-mile hike up rough terrain carrying a pack.  In short, make sure to hike within your limits. If there is a hard hike you’ll want to do start training ahead of time. It is also a great way to get in shape. 

The mountains are always changing

One of the beautiful things about the mountains is they are forever changing, yearly, monthly, daily, and even hourly, things rarely stay static. Because of this the weather is often hard to predict and varies wildly from one elevation to another. Always be aware of the weather. Try and get reports from various altitudes. Remember the temperature at sea level will be a lot warmer than at 5,000 feet.  Consider this when packing. 

Dress in layers

Anytime you are in the mountains it is best to dress in layers. You want to be able to shed wet clothes, or cool off and warm up as needed. Look at the coolest temperatures (historically) reported on the day you are hiking and consider if you have clothes to survive that temperature. If it is going to be hot, make sure you have clothes that will wick moisture and help you stay cool

man hiking mountain dressed in layered clothing | Asheville Connections

Leave the cotton at home

Cotton is not a good fabric for being in the mountains. It isn’t warm and in the heat it absorbs moisture. Look for more performance fabrics for your hiking clothes. There have been huge improvements in technical clothing that offer warmth, cooling, and moisture wicking qualities that make hiking so much more comfortable. 

Pack for the hike ahead

Each hike is different. A solo hiker wanting to conquer the entire Mt. Mitchell trail from Black Mountain to the top could be out for over eight to ten hours and needs to pack differently than a group of five hikers taking a calmer five mile hike. However, make sure to include some of the basics; map, water, first aid, light, something to start a fire with, and a change of clothing. The picture on here is my basic pack for a late fall hike where I expect to be solo hiking for up to ten hours. 

Always bring a warm hat

If you ever get caught in bad weather, a warm hat is one of the best ways to retain body heat. I personally like wool which does a great job keeping you warm even when wet. There were times where even in August I have had to put on a winter hat to stave off a chilly unexpected rain.

woman hiking mountain wearing warm hat | Asheville Connections

Have a basic first aid kit

A basic first aid kit can be a real lifesaver and even make a small injury quickly treatable. As an example, once hiking in New Mexico I leaned against a cactus. My leg was full of little needles. Was I glad I had the tweezers in my first aid kid. Hey, crazy things happen in the mountains, be prepared. You can buy a good basic first aid kit at any local outdoor store. 

Have enough water

Here’s the thing you are not going to starve to death. You can live a very long time without food. However, dehydration can be a major problem and if you get lost or injured you will want to have enough water and  way to purify water. Purification is easy with tablets, filtration straws and other means. Take a look at these at your outdoor store. They range from cheap to expensive. They all work and something I never go on a serious hike without. 

Let someone know where you are

Always let someone know where you are going. Leave a note in your car, tell a relative, use a GPS service like SPOT. This is especially true for those of you who like to hike alone. 

If you get lost, don't panic

Nobody likes to think about bad things happening, but preparing for them makes surviving them a whole lot easier. If you are lost and have to have an unplanned night out remember to first and foremost stay put! Don’t go wandering around in the dark. Wandering around in an area you don’t know in the dark will only make things worse. 

Second, do not panic. Remember we have wonderful emergency services in North Carolina and you will be found. Stay calm. Make sure to stay warm, stay dry, and if possible build a fire. Fires are easily seen and smoke can be seen for miles. If you keep just these simple things in mind you will highly increase your chances of being found quickly. 

Are you ready to discover the magic of the Asheville area and the North Carolina Mountains? If so we have a great selection of vacation homes to choose from that will put you in the heart of the mountains. Give us a call today at or click the button below to find your Asheville vacation. 

10 Things Every Hiker Should Know

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