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By Julia Van Peer

"There is no hiker in the world that embarks on the journey without preparation."

Hiking in remote mountains can be one of the most fulfilling things in life. Many times you’ll end up in places where you no longer have any cellphone reception (I know that is hard to imagine in our modern world), and you have the time to really lose yourself in your own thoughts. You will be surprised how many things will find their way to the surface.

In addition, you learn how to live and survive in nature, with a minimum amount of luxurious materials. You will drink from mountain streams, wash yourself in icy glacial lakes, and only eat freeze-dried food. Amazing, right? 

And as fantastic as this all sounds, there are always things that you have tot take into account out in the open nature. Below are some points that you should be aware of before starting your hike.


1. The mountains are unpredictable! It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter, or spring or autumn for that matter, weather conditions in the mountains can’t be predicted perfectly. From certain elevations there is always a danger of sudden fogs or strong winds and one should be careful. I have even experienced it so that one moment the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky, and half an hour later the sky suddenly gathered into a black mass of clouds.


2. When hiking on rocky paths and it suddenly starts raining, be aware that the rocks can become very slippery. It is best to always take your hiking poles with you to keep your balance when this happens. Also when having to cross a river with a strong current, these will come in handy.

3. Just as the weather can change rapidly in at high elevations, so do the temperatures. It can be so that during the day you’re sweating like a pig when hiking in the burning sun, and in the night the temperatures drop to minus zero. Always bring enough clothes with you to keep warm when you’re taking a break or spending the night in a tent somewhere. 


4. Always bring enough water (and food) with you on the hike. Most of the times in the mountains you will pass several rivers and streams where you can refill your bottles. However this is not a given. There are plenty of examples of mountain regions where you don’t pass a drop of water all day long. 

5. Respect the rules of the National Parks you enter. This means approaching animals carefully, seeing they are not used to humans. Even when passing flocks of sheep or cows it is best you take a detour, because the shepherd dogs can get very protective. There have been incidents where hikers have been attacked by a shepherd dog, just because they came too close to the herd. Furthermore, don’t make any campfires when you’re not in a designated area. You can easily start a forest fire like this. 


6. When coming across a bear, the last thing you want to do is show you’re afraid. Never ever turn your back on the bear and start running! Most of the time the bear itself will be scared and go away, but just in case they don’t, the best thing to do is keep looking at the bear and step back very quietly. When out of sight you can turn around and make your way back. If necessary use a bear pepper spray.

7. And last but not least, always bring the emergency number of both the country and National Park you’re in.

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