There is no doubt that the Canmore/Banff area boasts some spectacular hiking, but if you’re new to hiking there are some things you need to do to keep yourself safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Water: you need to bring water. Period. A lot of danger or discomfort on a long hike comes from dehydration, so make sure you bring plenty of it. You should bring 2-3 litres with you, and no, sports drinks do not count.
- A hat: along the same lines as the water, make sure you wear a hat. Sure, some people look kinda dorky in a hat, but when they’re shielding you from the sun and helping stave off heat exhaustion you’ll be happy you have it.
- Proper footwear: if you’re not wearing proper hiking footwear then your feet will be angry. Very angry. And possibly blister-y. So leave the sandals, walking shoes and running shoes at home and get yourself some proper hiking boots. It’s worth it. Doubling up on socks is also advised.
- A buddy: avoid hiking alone. If you encounter any trouble you’re going to want someone there who can go for help or get you out of a sticky situation. Also make sure that someone not going on the hike knows where you’re going.
- Stick to the trails: it may seem obvious, but getting lost is a huge danger and once you leave the trails it’s easier than you think to get lost.
- Bad weather: if you don’t have proper gear to deal with poor weather conditions make sure you turn back. Hypothermia is a very real concern on hikes and should be avoided at all costs.
Also important: if you are embarking on a more difficult hike make sure you have a plan in case of emergency. A map and compass are important in case you do get lost and a means of communication with the outside world can make all the difference in the world (keep in mind phones may not work on all trails).
With all of these things in mind you’re set to enjoy some of the most beautiful trails in Alberta and Canada!