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Hiking is a form of walking, undertaken with the specific purpose of exploring and enjoying the scenery, particularly in areas of relatively unspoiled wilderness[?], and usually on trails. Hikers usually carry small backpacks with essential gear. Overnight hiking is more properly called backpacking. Hiking is one of the fundamental outdoor activities[?] on which many others are based.

Enthusiasts regard hiking as the best way to see nature. It is better than a tour on a vehicle of any kind because the hiker's senses are not intruded upon by windows, engine noise, fellow passengers, and other distractions. It is better than standing in one place because the hiker may cover a wide area. On the other hand, hiking on a serious basis does require some degree of physical ability and knowledge, and hikers may get caught in inclement weather. Without a doubt, hiking is often the only way to reach beautiful places without chartering a helicopter.

Hiking safety issues and unforeseen circumstances Any hike, regardless of duration or the familiarity of the route, may possibly go awry. Possible mishaps include injury[?], unexpectedly inclement weather, and losing the trail. A simple set of equipment may allow the hiker to escape from any of these predicaments. One list of such equipment is the Scout Outdoor Essentials. The ultimate decision whether or not to bring any of this equipment is entirely at the hiker's discretion, and many hikers opt to leave most or all of it at home.

It is wise never to hike alone. In any survival situation[?], a companion may be more helpful than any piece of gear. If one hiker becomes injured, the other can administer first aid and call for help. If a lone hiker becomes lost, he is more likely to panic and make bad decisions than a group of two or three hikers. If the weather turns foul, a group of hikers can pool its manpower, brainpower, and body heat.

Another simple safety precaution is to give the itinerary and expected time of return to someone not on the hike.

How to hike

  • When hiking in a group, always keep your distance from the person in front of you: at least 20 feet (7 meters), but never so much distance that you can't see the other person. If you follow too closely, you will be able to see little other than the other hiker's back. If you keep a good distance, you will be able to see the scenery, and spot defects in the trail before you can trip over them. This rule may be difficult to follow under some circumstances, but it is very important to an enjoyable hike.
  • Keep an appropriate pace[?]. An excessively slow pace will limit the distance you can walk, but an excessively fast pace also has disadvantages. You will become fatigued quickly, increase your risk of injury, and be forced to think primarily about maintaining your speed, rather than about the scenery. Over flat ground or on a moderate downhill, a reasonably fast hiker may travel at almost four mph (six km/h) unladen, or three mph (five km/h) with a full backpack, though many prefer somewhat lower speeds to enjoy the scenery. A steep uphill will slow that pace down by about half.
  • Avoid dehydration. On short hikes in good weather, this is not an issue. On moderate-length hikes, it may be possible to fulfill your water needs by drinking plenty of water before setting out. On long hikes, especially those in hot weather or low humidity, it will be necessary to carry an extra supply of water.
  • When hiking in a group, place the slowest hiker in the lead. This will prevent the faster hikers from leaving the slow hiker behind, thus making sure that the group stays together. It is easier and safer for the faster hikers to adjust to the slow hiker's pace than vice versa.

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