Before you hit the hiking trail, be smart with basic safety tips, says outdoor enthusiast Erica Tait of Closter.
Erica learned her lesson the hard way. In 2014, while hiking alone in a desolate area within Palisades Interstate Park, she slipped on a patch of moss, fell 60 feet off a cliff and called 911 just before losing consciousness. Six hours later, as nightfall approached, she was dramatically rescued. ER doctors call her the “miracle girl” because she wasn’t expected to survive her injuries.
“I’m so grateful to be alive to share these safety tips with fellow hikers,” says the 25-year-old. ”The first thing I did after recovering from three surgeries and leaving my wheelchair was to return to that cliff to conquer my fears. But for that second visit, I wore sturdier shoes and went with a group.”
Here are Erica’s smart suggestions to keep yourself safe on New Jersey’s trails:
- Check the weather and re-schedule if conditions are threatening.
- Leave an itinerary with friends and check in if you plan to change your route.
- Download an app like bSafe or Companion so friends can track your route via GPS.
- Fully charge your phone and keep it safe, dry and readily accessible.
- Stretch before you hike and start at a pace you can maintain all day.
- Wear sturdy hiking shoes that have a solid tread, not a smooth sole.
- Always carry fresh water, a high-protein snack and basic first-aid items.
- When possible, hike with a friend who also follows safety tips.
- Take photo “breadcrumbs” along your route to easily re-trace your steps.
- Resist the temptation to near the edge of a cliff to catch a view or take a photo.
Happy exploring as you discover all the Garden State has to offer!
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