In order to adventure wildly, you have to be safe. Today I decided to compile a list advice, from guides and personal experience, on helping your family sleep at night. Do enjoy and take seriously.
Spill the beans
Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. I suggest group activities in more remote areas but if you want to get out for some peace and quiet then definitely make sure you tell someone your plan before you leave. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Most places around the cape peninsula have signal and a phone is an excellent communication device. I keep a power bank for mine in case I am running low and in an emergency.
Check the Weather
Check weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Nature always wins. Hands down! Note to self: what happens on one side of the mountain can be totally different on the top or on the other side. Especially in Cape Town. I recommend a phone app like Accuweather for general forecasts and for more detail especially for the windy peninsula you can use WindGuru. Whatever works for you. The point is to be prepared.
Wear sensible clothing, you will get hot thus sweat and that sweat will get cold with even a slight breeze. Therefore wear clothing that is breathable and then pack a warm top/jacket and a change of shirt. I have been on many hikes in a shirt and have had to change on the summit as it was freezing.
You will be traversing on uneven and wet terrain so wear the correct shoes for the job. I find trail shoes do not support my ankles well enough on hikes so I prefer hiking boots. You would be silly to trail run in boots so I suggest you wear strapping or an ankle guard while trail running. Another helpful tip is to pace yourself. Too fast for what your body can really handle and you will lose focus and trip or slip and fall.
Have you ever seen a face without sun cream through UV lens? Google is and for Pete’s sake do not wear factor 10. Time flies when you are not just lying on the beach. You will be out for hours at a time. Factor 30 and above is recommended for those who wish not to age like biltong. Secondly, protect your head and face with a cap, hat or bandana. Finally, a good pair of polarized shades can make the glare of the sun off shiny rock faces, white sand and bodies of water that much bearable.
Power of Water
If you were limited to only one thing to take on an outdoor adventure, even if it meant you have to be stark naked and without a paddle, please take plenty water. Our bodies are 70% H2O, without we will dehydrate which will cause fatigue, headaches, nausea and worse. It is recommended to carry at least 2 liters per person per day but I suggest 4 liters for trips in the summer. Hydration bladders are excellent for carrying a lot of water over distances. I go everywhere with mine even on the fire line. Be sure to sip constantly throughout your adventure. Being thirsty means dehydration so avoid starving yourself there are no calories in the water I promise. I sometimes carry some Energade and/or rehydrate sachets in my pack to replace electrolytes lost through sweating.
Food glorious food
Your body will love you for it. Replenish those lost vitamins and minerals with a banana, some fruit and nut mix that can fit easily in your pack. What better ways to enjoy a snack at the top of a trail with a panoramic view and some reflection? Live in the moment. Enjoy the ride.
A good idea would be to carry a first aid kit for common injuries while out on the trails. Contents should include but are not limited to the following: pain medication, allergy medications, sun screen, plasters, burn shield, Dettol/Savlon, antiseptic, gauze, bandages, blister/mole skin, tweezers, insect repellent, space blanket, eye drops, scissors and surgical gloves. If you are an avid adventurer I strongly suggest you do a level 1 First Aid Course so you can be a useful Samaritan to yourself and fellow adventurers.
Map and compass in case you get lost on hike. The best is to plan your route before you leave and do not hike blind. If you are going to use a compass make sure you know how. It is not as simple as following the arrow. A GPS is better for following arrows but make sure you don’t hold it like a cell phone or you may walk off a cliff. Know your equipment.The above is the minimum you should have. Don’t wait for your adventure to test it.
Make sure you have a suitable pack to carry all of this in. If it is a day hike I suggest a small hiking pack. Pack your essentials near the top for easy access. For bikes and runs a hydration pack or something similar with pouches to hold snacks and basic gear is perfect.
Some basic trail etiquette is to stay on the trail at all times.If in a group, keep in a single file. Moving off the trail is not only dangerous to you falling off a ledge or stepping on a thorn or snake but also for the vegetation which over time can become eroded from human impact. Respect the trails you ride like the surfer respects the waves. Let slower people coming towards you and faster people coming behind you pass. Make sense? The general rule is hiker/runners give way to horses and cyclists give way to hikers/runners and horses (Rob Beattie, 2012. The Outdoor Survival Bible). Downhill folk give way to uphill folk. And now everyone can be safe and happy. Understood? Great! I love a good lecture.
Hero’s stay at home
In all honesty safety is a critical part of an adventurer’s life. Don’t be a hero. Heroes die. Respect the earth you walk and it will respect you. In the words of my faithful outdoor companion “Embrace the outdoors with an inquisitive mind and an open heart.” (Rob Beattie, 2012. The Outdoor Survival Bible)