Safety tips for novice hikers
Useful tips on hiking and how to prepare your backpack.
Quick index (Click to expand)Introduction Respect the mountain Use common sense Clothing The rucksack Timing Useful tips Conclusion
This page has been created as an integration of the article on the the most beautiful hikes to make in Cortina d'Ampezzo, and wants to give some information to those who have never faced an excursion in the mountains. Follow our tips to be prepared during your first hikes and avoid to ruin your day in the nature by small unexpected events. We'll start with some general advice, then we'll make a list of things to always have in your backpack. If you think that we have forgotten something, don't hesitate to contact us.
In this article we aim at those who want to spend a few hours walking in nature. If you want to face the mountain in a more intense way, making your first climbs or iron paths, remember to always ask to a professist. In Cortina the point of reference for those who want to perform these sports is the office of the mountain guides.
Respect the mountain:
First of all, let's start from the assumption that the mountain has to be treated with respect, you have to be careful not to damage the environment and you must always bring home your own garbage. It would be amazing if you would contribute cleaning the forest, collecting any garbage left by less respectful guests.
Respecting the mountains should also be seen in a broader sense...
It would also be better to avoid making noise, as much as possible, so as not to disturb other hikers. Another reason why it would be better stay as quiet as possible is to have a chance to see wild animals, such as squirrels or deer, who would otherwise run away, frightened by your chaos.
Respecting the mountains should also be seen in a broader sense. If it is approached with respect and attention, the mountain is wonderful. If you try to underestimate the risks, exposing too much from an overhang, or wanting to make a complicated passage without having neither the skills nor the correct equipment, or when you want to run downhill with rocks and obstacles, in short, when you underestimate the potential risk, that's where you get hurt.
Use common sense:
You should always remember that the mountain could potentially be dangerous. Some passages can be difficult, if you fall you could get very hurt. The phone does not always work, so you have to be much more careful than you normally would be, especially if you are alone. In this regard, remember to always tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
Before leaving you should always check the weather forecast, because it's extremely important to avoid difficult hikes in case of rain or bad weather. Always carry a rain jacket in your backpack, even if the forecast is good, but above all don't go on dangerous excursions or via ferrata if a storm seems to be approaching, even if the weather forecast did not foresee rain, it it's too dangerous.
...Cortina's hikes are almost always well marked...
The trails in Cortina are almost always well marked. Usually, on the most touristic trails, the road signs are well placed, but if you find yourself
in front of an unmarked intersection, it's often better to choose the most trampled path. If you're not sure which way is right, look for the red-white
signs on trees or rocks. They are the safest way not to get lost, if you know the right one for your path. You can see a couple of them, painted on the trees,
on the photos above. Needless to say that it is best to know which one to follow before set out.
If you don't want to take the busiest roads, or if you want to go on long excursions, buy a paper map and carry it with you at all time.
You should avoid all the places where you don't feel safe. All the hikes proposed on our site are generally easy so you should not worry even if you have vertigo, but remember: everyone must be responsible for his body and his ability to handle fatigue or fear of height. If you are tired and you think you cannot continue, stop, eat something sweet, drink some water and, after a few minutes, decide whether to continue or to turn back.
Clothing should be appropriate for hiking, with sturdy shoes and comfortable clothing, preferably technical. Never choose appearance over functionality. Try to dress in "onion" style, meaning stratified, so that you can add or remove a layer if you feel cold or heat. A typical dress is: light and waterproof jacket, a fleece sweater and a technical t-shirt. For the pants a good idea are those convertible from long to short with a zipper. In the mountains there are ticks. We are not going to bore you with all the problems, potentially very serious, that a tick bite could bring. Remember that we are not at the beach: in the mountains no one should dare to walk in shorts and flat shoes, maybe without socks. You should always protect your legs with long pants or thick socks, using appropriate shoes.
Even if you are going on a very short trip, we always recommend to bring with you a backpack with the necessary. The basic equipment consists of: A bottle of water, something sweet to eat, a rain jacket and a clean T-shirt, so you don't have to stay sweaty when you'll stop to relax. When you get to the top, whether it is to eat a sandwich or to eat something in a mountain lodge (here is our article on the subject), it would be very unpleasant to keep a wet and sticky T-shirt soaked with sweat. Having a dry t-shirt will make a big difference, believe me.
Basically, it pays to stay as light as possible, but it doesn't mean you should move on without the bare minimum. If you want a complete list for a day hike, I recommend printing or taking a screenshot of ours:
- Plenty of Water.
- Energy bars or dried fruit.
- Sandwiches and fruit for lunch.
- Clean T-shirt.
- Clean pair of socks.
- Waterproof jacket.
- Sunscreen lotion.
- Paper tissues.
- Paper map of the paths.
- Multipurpose knife.
- Head flashlight with batteries.
- Patches and medicines, if any.
- Trekking poles, if necessary.
As mentioned earlier, always try to plan your hikes in the early morning hours. As all mountaineers can confirm, walking with the midday sun on your neck is never a good idea. Another thing to consider is that, by leaving early in the morning, it will be much easier to find parking and a place to eat at a mountain lodge. You'll also greatly reduce the risk of getting caught up in heat storms, brief thunderstorms that occur in the early afternoon hours of the hottest days.
We want to give you some more general advice. Forgive us if some will seem obvious, but it's best to point out some concepts, even if they seem trivial.
...Hiking should be a relaxing activity, not a masochistic experience....
- Even if you're putting in a lot of effort, don't forget to stop sometimes, look at the view and enjoy the nature. During the hike try to keep a steady pace, dictated by the slowest of the group, especially on the uphills. You should always try to relax, rather than expect to set a time records, or to force other family members or friends to keep up with your pace. The hike should be an enjoyable activity, not a masochistic "family ruiner" experience.
- If you have children or teens with you, consider that it is much more harder for them to hike in the mountains. When walking on steep trails, consider that the obstacles are proportionate to their height, and therefore much more difficult to overcome. Be patient and choose a route suitable for your children. It's even better if it's a path already "tested", to avoid surprises.
- Try to stay hydrated all the time, but don't drink too much. If you start to feel too much tired, stop and eat something sweet (energy bars or fruit), have a sip of water and wait a little before start again, if you feel up to it.
- If you see something crawling in the woods, most likely it will be an "orbettino", a legless lizard that is completely harmless to humans. In any case avoid approaching it, because in Cortina there are also two varieties of vipers that are rather poisonous, recognizable by their triangular head and by the hissing sound they emit when they feel in danger. No need to tell you to move away, your instincts will be enough. Personally, I've only seen one viper blow towards me and I assure you that I wouldn't have gone near it for anything in the world. This kind of encounters are very rare anyway, because snakes are scared from our noises and the vibrations coming from our steps.
- When walking, try to stay on the edge of the path, both to allow faster hikers to overtake you and to avoiding accidents with cyclists, who often forget that they are not the only users of the mountain paths.
- If you go to the mountains, don't forget to tell someone your destination and the route you plan to take. The phone doesn't always receive signal, so it's always a good idea to tell someone where you are, in case of a problem.
- If you have bought new equipment (especially shoes) use it a bit on short tracks before using them for long rides, as foot ache is always lurking. If you feel discomfort, use a band-aid (you should have some in the backpack) and protect the irritated part.
Hoping you liked our tips for novice hikers, before saying goodbye, we would suggest you to read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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