For The Morning Star
As you enjoy our local trails, you may observe “CAUTION” signs that warn users of hazards.
What trail hazards should we be aware of and how can we be prepared?
Here are several basic trail safety guidelines that can help avoid hazards and reduce your risks while on our recreational trails.
1. Know your trail. Prior to beginning your adventure, determine the trail location, route, difficulty and length. Up-to-date paper trail maps and brochures, trail guide books, municipal websites, and trail apps are all great sources of trail information
The Ribbons of Green Trails Society offers an informative website and an interactive map, which includes trail information from all of the local Greater Vernon municipalities including trail rating, difficulties, unique features, points of interest, warnings, wheelchair accessibility, and photos (ribbonsofgreen.ca).
2. Dress appropriately. Good walking gear includes sturdy shoes or hiking boots to provide grip and to prevent stumbles and twisted ankles. Walking poles are great if you require balance assistance.
Dress in layers to prepare for changes in weather while on the trail. Be prepared for extreme heat, cold, rain, snow, and wind. Protect your head with a hat, wear sunscreen for skin protection. A light backpack is perfect for storing extra gear.
3. Stay hydrated. Bring water and a lightweight snack for longer hikes and remember to drink regularly along the route.
4. Insect precautions. Tick season starts in the spring when bright yellow buttercups bloom and ends with the heat of July. Ticks are typically in long grass, so stay on the trails. After a hike, examine for ticks on your body. Insect repellent may be required for some forested damp trails against mosquitoes and bugs.
5. Painful plants. Poison Ivy, cacti, Stinging Nettle and Devil’s Club grow along trails in our area and can cause great discomfort. Staying on the trail will reduce your risk of coming in contact with them.
6. Respect wildlife. Wildlife has lived along our trails long before we were here. Snakes are looking for warmth and sun and truly don’t want to interact with humans or dogs. Stay on the trail and back off if you encounter a snake or large wildlife. Keep your dog on a leash.
7. Stay in contact. If possible, hike with a buddy and bring a cellphone. Let someone know where you are hiking.
Following these guidelines will help prepare you for a worry-free, risk-free hike.
Ingrid Neumann is a director with the Ribbons of Green Trails Society