HIKING SAFETY IN HAWAII
THIS IS NOT MAINLAND HIKING
No matter your experience level, if you have not hiked in Hawaii before, you will quickly learn things are different out here. In addition to the typical island hazards (brutal sunlight and heat, annoying bugs etc.) Hawaii has its own set of unique hiking risks.
Many of the trails are raw and unmaintained. Some of the trails are completely ungraded, with nothing between you and a several thousand foot dropoff but a bit of grass. The trails and ridges can be very overgrown, which can make it easy to get lost or lead you to the wrong part of an already treacherous ridge.
The elements are unpredictable. Rainstorms can come on quickly and can cause deadly flash floods in valleys. Strong winds can blow you around and upset your balance on a skinny ridge. Eroded ridges have the potential to break out from underneath your feet.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Sadly, people die on hikes ever year in Hawaii. From those that have no experience, to those that have hiked here their entire life, a tragedy can befall anyone. Understanding your experience and skill level and choosing appropriate trails can help reduce the chance of a tragedy. Don’t be afraid to turn back if things go bad. And for some of these trails, you have to accept that simply attempting it means you are risking your life.
Making the right preparations will mitigate some of the risk on these trails. Ensure you have sufficient water and food and bring the appropriate attire. Inform your friends/family where you are hiking and when you expect to return if you choose to hike alone. Bring a friend along who knows the trail. Research the hike beforehand and determine if it is right for you based on your experience and skill level.
In the end, the only person responsible for your safety is you. So do your homework. Be prepared and know your limits.
Because these trails are worth it. The natural beauty and diversity of these islands are hard to beat. And hiking is one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in all of these natural wonders. Nothing in life comes without some risk.
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