(post updated September 2016)In relation to an earlier post on recommended solo hiking destinations around Luzon, I am sharing some tips, some of which are from friends who are equally passionate about mountains.
While a standard safety tip in hiking is to never go alone but sometimes, a companion is unavailable and you find yourself craving for a mountain adventure. Here are my tips for those doing a solo hike :
1. Choose a short, well-established trail that can be completed within 4 hours, has mobile signal, close to the jump-off and popular to visitors. Research and ask around before going. It is also recommended to hire a local guide - one that you can secure from the barangay or recommended by someone you trust. Register at the Barangay or Tourism Office as soon as you arrive so you can get a safety advisory or travel tips. (For hiking itineraries, visit www.pinoymountaineer.com)
2. Always inform someone where you’re going or leave them a copy of your itinerary. You could also ask that person to start looking for you if you fail to contact them again after a certain number of hours. As much as possible, let someone know where you are. This would help the rescuers determine a starting point for their search.
Related Post : Safety Tips for Solo Women Travelers
3. Bring a first aid kit in case you get injured or encounter someone who needs help. What to put in your first aid kit? Refer to this checklist from REI.
4. Don't be shy to approach the tourism office or barangay to ask for information or request assistance.
5. For females, another helpful tip that has worked for me is making use of this “gift”called feminine instinct. You often hear people talk about it but it’s tricky to explain what it actually is. Sometimes, it’s this illogical feeling of wanting to deviate from what you’re about to do. Other times, it’s this voice in your head telling you exactly what to do. I use this a lot when deciding if I’m staying at a place and in choosing the people I hang out with (ex. Sharing a ride with strangers or staying at their place).
- First Aid Kit
- Adequate food and water. Always bring emergency food/water that you promise not to consume until you get back to civilization. I've seen several situations where hikers depleted all their stocks to minimize their load only to be stranded for a couple of hours or days with not enough food. They all survived, though slightly traumatized.
- Change of clothes and slippers. You don't want to wear that wet boots all the way home.
- Mobile Phone (one that's adequately charged of course!)
- Always waterproof your belongings (put it in a dry bag or plastic).
It must be stressed however that it’s not recommended to do a solo trek when you are doing it for the first time. Better familiarize yourself with the basics of hiking before embarking on your own. Besides, it's always nice to have someone to share your reactions with.:)