I spent yesterday up in Glacier National Park hiking with some old and new friends. We are having a beautiful Indian summer here in Montana, and we’re taking advantage of it as much as we possibly can. I wrote a bit about hiking in Glacier and some tips for defending yourself against bears a few weeks ago, but I thought I would talk about a few more tips when hiking Glacier. You know, one can never have too many tips!
Make sure your phone is charged.
Whether you plan on using it for pictures or you need it for emergency reasons, you should make sure your smartphone is full of battery and ready to go on your hiking adventure. It can be a pain to carry a lot of things, especially if you are hauling around some large camera equipment, but this is one thing (like bear spray) that you don’t want to really leave behind.
Respect the trail and nature.
Trails tend to be there for a reason. We would all like to think we’re intrepid explorers ready to go off the beaten path, but the truth is, any national park has been combed over—there are people who are paid to do that. We are not they. Sticking to the trail and trying not to step on any foliage and disturb wildlife is really important. Leave the exploring to the park rangers and people who are supposed to be there—that way you can preserve the park for generations to come and you’re less likely to encounter something you’d rather not.
Watch out for other hikers.
You might not think of it this way, but hiking is kind of a team sport. Part of hiking etiquette is making sure that you leave plenty of room for others enjoying the trail to pass. Simply stepping to the side and letting them through is all you need to do. (Just a warning: Montana hikers are extremely friendly and will say hello whether you feel like talking or not.) Also, if a fellow hiker on the trail doesn’t look so great and you’re worried about his or her safety, it’s a good idea just to check in—better be safe than sorry!
Leave no trace of food.
Bears have the incredible ability of finding any source of food within miles. When you leave food on the trail, you’re basically bear baiting an area where people are! Make sure that after you have your lunch everything is cleaned up and that you haven’t left anything behind.
Have any more suggestions? Have a favorite hike in Glacier or another national park?