Hiking can be a relaxing, healthy pastime that takes you along some picturesque trails.
On the other hand, it can also be a pulse-pounding, fear-inducing, death-defying walk on the wild side.
Depending on your experience, sense of adventure, and ability to cope with extreme heights, some of the world’s most dangerous hiking trails may appeal to you. If you’ve been looking for a new challenge to inject a little more zest into your walking, consider visiting any of these five trails during your next vacation …
Mount Huashan (China)
Just looking at hikers’ snapshots of this trail is enough to induce an immense terror of heights in anyone.
Mount Huashan is based close to China’s Huayin, and offers plenty of spectacular views – provided you can cope with the challenge, of course. There are various trails leading to the mountain’s five summits, and the number of tourists choosing to walk them led to a much-needed reinforcement-operation.
The trails are more secure than they were, but dozens of fatal falls are still believed to occur each year.
This is unsurprising, when parts of a trail are simply wooden boards bolted to the side of the mountain.
There are also parts boasting such intimidating names as Black Dragon Ridge and Hundred-Foot Crevice.
Taghia Trail (Morocco)
Next time you head to Morocco, be sure to try hiking the Taghia trail, which runs around the spectacular mountain, Oujdad.
You need to tread carefully here, as there are only rocks and logs leading you along solid wall. While these are secure and many people walk this trail safely, the narrow walkways and sheer drops are enough to put even the most seasoned hikers off.
El Caminito del Rey (Spain)
‘Little King’s Path’ is a definite challenge, with a walkway just three feet wide to tread. This is based more than 300 feet up from a river running beneath,
For some time, this was known as one of the most dangerous trails on Earth, due to its state of deterioration. In 2014, the trail reopened after restoration work was completed, and it’s now safer than it was.
However, the narrowness of certain parts and the brutal drops mean this is still a no-no for people likely to be overwhelmed.
Huayna Picchu Trail (Peru)
Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most iconic sites, but hiking all the way up there is a challenge for even the hardiest hiker.
Huyana Picchu, the trail running up to the Incan spot, runs up to around 1,000 feet. It’s also so narrow and steep that you access is prohibited during most of the country’s rainy season.
While the reward for reaching the top is unquestionably worthwhile, the danger the trail poses is sure to put many of us off.
Bright Angel Trail (Arizona)
The Bright Angel Trail is based in the beautiful Grand Canyon National Park, and runs for more than eight miles.
Over the years, hikers have been at risk of flash floods, rockfall, unbearable heat, and even drowning. It is incredibly popular, but hikers are at risk without the proper gear and care.
When embarking on one of these trails, or any hike, having the right equipment is vital. Being under-prepared poses numerous risks, not least dehydration and extreme hunger if you pack too-little supplies.
You should make sure you have waterproof backpacks to keep your essentials dry in wet conditions, though these will also offer protection should your bag fall into water.
Hiking is a terrific way to stay fit and see the world, but do your research before trying trails known to be dangerous.
Mountain climbing carries a certain degree of risk in even the warmest months, but this increases significantly in winter. It’s vital to plan ahead and exercise considerable caution on sites posing no obvious danger.
Heavy snowfall, plunging temperatures, and excessive winds can all make mountain climbing a challenge for the most experienced of us. Whether you’re planning on going out there as a pair or in a group, safety is paramount.
Never let yourself be complacent if there are several of you climbing together – everyone has to invest the same degree of preparation and vigilance.
Here are our tips for staying safe while mountain climbing in winter …
Research Avalanche Conditions Ahead of Time
Without doubt, avalanches are one of the most dangerous natural events in winter. Before you set out on your climb, check your local weather station for the latest updates. You should also visit avalanche.org, sponsored by The American Avalanche Association, which is filled with essential information.
You’ll also be able to find detailed information in forums and online communities, so get to know other like-minded climbers.
You may also want to call ahead to your destination’s ranger station, to ask for their advice on avalanche risks and expected conditions throughout the day.
Take the ‘Onion’ Approach
You need to wear several layers in winter. Rather than wearing a padded coat and a thick sweater, layers mean you can peel off should you start to overheat.
Sounds ridiculous? Consider the amount of physical exertion required to climb a mountain, and you’ll see how you can still overheat in chilly conditions. Being able to take a layer or two off will make you more comfortable, without you having to remove something more substantial.
Don’t forget to wear thermals, which wick moisture away from your skin. Carry spare socks and a change of thermals, in case you need to freshen up.
If you’re climbing snowy terrain in bright weather, sunglasses are essential to prevent glare affecting your sight. Snowblindness is a real danger, as is sunburn – pack sun-block in your backpack, even if you think you may not need it.
Choose the Smartest Route
Generally, climbing ridges is safer in winter than tackling faces. The reason? Ridges tend to be free of deep snow, and as they’re windswept the snow is typically safer to cross than powdery surfaces.
Just be careful, though, as cornices form on the side of ridges. If you tread on these without realizing, they may well break under your weight – sending you over the edge.
At a more basic level, choose routes that pose a simpler experience. Trails you may walk in summer without any problems whatsoever are likely to be totally different in winter, with heavy snowfall, rain, and ice. With information from the local weather station and other climbers, you’ll be able to identify the safest trails for your level of experience.
Again, this comes down to investing time into effective research. Simply heading out on a climb on the spur of the moment is easily done, and may seem exciting, but you can’t afford to ignore the dangers posed by winter mountains.
We stock a range of mountaineering gear to help you get the most out of your winter climbs, and have a range of waterproof backpacks to keep your supplies dry (vital in case you fall into snow often or get caught in the rain).
Prepare, pack all the right supplies, wear the best gear you can find, and don’t push yourself into challenges beyond your abilities.
It goes without saying that you’ll want to introduce your children to the joys of the open road, but this is easier said than done.
Getting them interested in exercise can be tricky enough, while keeping them safe and happy is a challenge you may not relish.
After all, when you bike alone, you only have yourself to worry about. Each turn, each set of traffic lights, and each descent you come to, you are your sole concern.
With kids, this all changes. You want to make sure they’re observing the rules of the road, learning the necessary techniques, and not developing bad habits. You also have to make sure they’re having fun from start to finish.
If you’re looking to start taking your children out on bike rides with you, there are certain things you can try to make it easier.
Consider a Child’s Seat for Young Starters
If your child’s too young to ride their own bike, they can still go along for a day out. Fitting a child’s seat to your bicycle is a simpler alternative to a trailer, and might give you more peace of mind knowing they’re right behind you.
After you fit the bike, you should practice riding with a bag of potatoes or rocks of a similar weight to your child. This will help you get used to managing the extra pounds and handling the bike with another person on-board.
By being out on the road without the responsibility of managing their own bike, your children will get used to the activity and other vehicles early. You also get to take direct charge of their safety, rather than simply riding alongside them.
How Far Should they Ride on their Own Bike?
When your child’s ready to ride their own bike on a family day out, how much distance should you aim to cover?
Start small. Aim for around two or four miles on your early rides, and add more over following sessions, but don’t rush them. If they appear too tired or grow frustrated over shorter distances, let them stop.
Be sure to make stops after every mile, even for just a few minutes. Let them stretch their legs, catch their breath, have a drink.
The important thing is to ensure they enjoy cycling and develop an affection for it. Pushing them too far too soon may cause them to lose interest.
Be sure to take snacks with you on your family bike-rides. A delicious, healthy snack makes a great treat to reward your kids with at the end of your journey, and can be used as an incentive to keep going if they start to flag when you only have a little further to go.
You also need to pack drinks for everyone, ideally something sweet that will give them energy (or at least appear to do so). Pack fresh fruit-juices, such as OJ, or flavored water. Make sure to carry these in a waterproof backpack, to avoid little accidents and minimize problems caused by potential spillages.
Another great way to prepare for a fun, successful bike ride with your kids is to make the destination a real incentive. Suggest a ride to the theater when they want to see a new movie, or to a restaurant you’ve all wanted to try for some time.
Follow these tips, and you may well encourage your children to fall in love with cycling for life.
Staying safe is vital in any outdoor activity.
While hiking may not appear as risky as, say, mountaineering or whitewater rafting, there are still dangers out there. Everything from a sprained ankle to a nasty scratch can put a downer on your trip, and potentially lead to further problems down the line.
Still, you can’t let this put you off – hiking is one of the greatest, healthiest, most sociable ways to soak up the beauty of our country. To stay as safe during your hikes as possible, take a well-stocked first aid kit with enough supplies for everyone in your party.
What should your kit include?
Obvious but absolutely essential. Carry a variety of sizes to cover cuts, scrapes, blisters, and burns.
Be sure to buy a few rolls, enough to accommodate multiple wounds. As unlikely as numerous injuries are, it’s always better to be prepared.
Knife or Scissors:
A knife and scissors can help you to cut bandages, remove clothing to access a wound, and more. You should keep it in a secure place, and ensure it stays within your sight at all times, as well as that of other adults in your party.
Don’t think you’ll need these on a hike?
Think again. Should yourself or another member of your group get a deep cut, tweezers are vital to remove splinters or unwanted materials from a wound. In the slight chance of attracting ticks, tweezers will also prove handy.
Invest in a sturdy pair and ensure these are cleaned thoroughly before adding them to your first aid kit.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use dressings during a hike. However, in the event of becoming injured with an open wound, dressing pads can help to stop blood loss.
Make sure these are sterile to avoid infection. You may also need sticky tape to keep dressings in place, when it’s impractical for anyone to put pressure on the wound.
These are available all over, and allow you to keep your hands clean if you need to dress a wound. Pack several pocket-sized bottles.
Being struck down by diarrhea’s terrible at any time, but while out hiking? It’s the worst.
Whether your stomach is irritated by dirty water or food past its best, anti-diarrhea pills will keep you comfortable, prevent you needing to stop every few minutes, and avoid the risk of dehydration.
Before applying dressings to a wound, even the smallest scratch, cleanse it with a topical antiseptic ointment. This tends to cause a little discomfort, but it combats the risk of infection.
This is critical when you’re outdoors, in strange surroundings. A lax approach to hygiene, especially with open wounds, is highly inappropriate during hikes. Keep your hands, cuts, and clothes as clean as possible.
Never underestimate how important safety pins are in keeping bandages, slings, and torn safety-clothing in place. Buy these in bulk and take as many as you can with you.
If you’re heading out to hike in wet weather, be sure to keep your first aid supplies safe in a waterproof bag. You don’t want to discover your bandages and dressings are soaked if you find yourself in need.
Remember: hiking is fun, healthy, and accessible to almost everyone. Take care of yourself and the rest of your group by packing a comprehensive first aid kit.
Not only does this make sure you’re prepared, it also allows you to enjoy great peace of mind from that first step to the last!
Mountain biking is one of the most popular ways to stay fit, see some amazing sights, and challenge yourself.
Time on your bike is precious, so you have to make the most of it – and even seasoned riders can learn new techniques and skills to get more out of their favorite sport.
Here in the beautiful USA, mountain bikers are blessed with many stunning trails and spots to enjoy. The better you handle your wheels, the safer and happier you will be.
Intrigued? Join us as we look at four expert tips to make you a better biker.
Take a Stance
When you’re riding your mountain bike, it’s natural to want to stay seated. This makes sense on flat terrain with a smooth surface, but what about when you’re on rougher ground?
Stand up, supporting yourself on your pedals, and bend your knees slightly.
Remember to lean forward a little, and keep your elbows bent, forming a tight, secure posture.
By adopting a stance rather than sitting, you’ll absorb any bumps much easier, reinforcing your safety on tough descents.
Approach Corners like a Pro
Take a corner the wrong way, and you can cost yourself time in a race, let alone risk a dismount.
What’s the best cornering technique then? Don’t leave your feet at the same level on the pedals.
Instead, let your foot on the outside drop to the bottom and lift the inside foot higher. This drives your weight into the corner for a smoother, more solid movement.
Focus, Focus, Focus
The more experienced you become at any sport, the easier it is to be complacent.
However, with mountain biking, a lack of focus is a risk to your health as well as your performance. One bad corner or slip, and you may get pretty banged up. Pay attention to where you’re going: let your eyes guide you, and your responses will be much sharper.
Don’t let yourself become distracted by your fellow riders, or how good you might look while pulling off a certain move. Keep your eyes on the trail, obstacle, or trick ahead of you.
Brake Smoothly, Brake Evenly
You need to master your brakes to stay safe and in control while riding. Though most of your brakes’ power is based in the front one, squeezing this too hard and fast can put you in a slightly unstable position (namely, on the ground).
When applying your brakes, do so smoothly. Squeeze them lightly, slowly. Pay equal attention to the front and back brakes to avoid skids.
When coming to a sudden stop, be sure to let your heels drop, bend at your elbows and knees, and shift your hips back. This helps you stay in control and keeps you in a stable position should you be on rough terrain.
Mountain biking should be fun and exciting, but always exercise caution and use the right equipment. At Adamant Gear, we stock high-performance mountain bikes crafted with the toughest, most durable components for the safest, most secure, most satisfying ride.