I probably broke a bunch of hiking rules today when I went exploring in one of the state parks in my hometown. It was a nice hike until I decided to head back and about half hour into the return trip and lost in thought, it occurred to me that I had no idea where I was.
For about an hour I went to and fro chasing one trail into another trail and then back into yet another, until I had completely scrambled my sense of orientation and direction. This isn't a huge park, but the uninitiated could go in circles on various trails until they run out of steam. I'm fairly sure I was going in circles and wasn't getting anywhere fast.
Eventually I decided to ditch the unknown trail I was on and descend over the side of the mountain in a desperate attempt to find the original trail. The gamble paid off and soon I was relieved to be back in familiar territory and followed my way back to the trailhead.
As for the hiking rules I had broken, I think this list is a good summary, but in no particular order:
- Hike with a partner.
- Pack some food and water.
- Have a map of the trails.
- Take these: compass, cell phone, flashlight, GPS.
- Tell someone about your hiking plan.