Thursday, July 3, 2014

Having a Safe Adventure in Ohio

Photos by OHventures

The following is a post written especially for OHventures by freelance tourism writer Susie Holt

If you are used to more relaxing vacations, lying on a beach or wandering around museums, your first adventure trip might seem somewhat daunting. However, it doesn't take much to get out and start enjoying some of Ohio's beautiful landscapes, as these simple tips show

Planning and Packing
Good preparation is the key to a safe trip, so it is important to spend some time planning your route and making sure that you have everything you need in your pack. Having a good idea of where you will go and how long it will take you to travel the planned distance is essential. Not only will this help you to avoid getting lost while you are hiking or cycling, but it will also give you an idea of how fit you need to be to complete the trip and how much food and water you will need to carry. It will also allow you to advise a friend or relative of your planned route and when you should be expected back, which means that someone will be able to send help if something does go wrong. You should check the local weather reports for your destination before you head out, so that you can dress appropriately, or postpone your trip if necessary.

You will need comfortable clothes and shoes, and a good sized backpack to carry all of your basic hiking essentials, including plenty of water and high-energy snacks, a map and compass, a flashlight and a camera. Your backpack can also be useful for carrying extra layers of clothing. You will probably be more comfortable if you bring several thin layers, including a waterproof outer jacket, which you can put on and take off as necessary. If you are setting out from a base camp or vehicle, you can leave extra supplies here. Knowing that there is a snack and a dry pair of socks waiting for you at the trailhead can be a great motivator at the end of the day.

Don't forget your hiking stick! I always bring mine, which was hand carved by my dad!

Out and About
Keeping yourself healthy when you are out in the wild is also vital, not just for your wellbeing, but also for your enjoyment of the trip. Carrying a first aid kit is a good starting point, but it is also a good idea to attend a course, or at least read a book to make sure that you know how to use it. Knowing how to treat small cuts and bruises, blisters, and insect bites, including tick bites, will make coping with these small irritations much simpler, but even basic first aid skills could be lifesaving in an emergency. Ideally, you won't ever have to use these skills, and you can reduce the chances of needing medical attention by taking some sensible preventative measures. 

Wear bug spray and sunscreen, and make sure that you keep properly hydrated, particularly during warm weather. Carry clean water with you, and use a filter or water purification tablets if you do have to find another source. Although it goes without saying for most adventure travelers, it is important to be aware of the dangers of over-indulging in alcohol or taking illegal substances, particularly while you are traveling. It can be just as dangerous to drink and hike or cycle as it is to drink and drive, particularly in the winter, when alcohol will speed up the rate at which you are losing heat, so take the CDC's recommendation and save the beers for a celebration when you get home at the end of the trip.

Best Places to Seek Adventure in Ohio
If you want to try out some of your new safe travel skills, Ohio has some beautiful spots where you can plan a long hike, camping trip or other adventure. Shawnee State Park and Forest has some stunning hiking trails, and you can also camp or go swimming, boating or horseback riding in the park. Zaleski State Forest also has some great hiking, with the 10 and 23.5 mile routes being popular options. It is a great place to practice your navigation skills as the trails are fairly easy to follow with a good map.

For longer treks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a great destination, with a choice of many different trails. It has some particularly good bike routes and beautiful river views, but you will need to plan your route carefully and decide which part of the park you want to see on your trip. Cuyahoga Valley is simply too big to experience all at once. The Wayne National Forest is another big landscape to explore, with more than 300 miles of trails where you can hike, cycle, or ride horses or all-terrain vehicles. You can easily plan a longer trip here, staying overnight in the campground, after perfecting your skills on one of the shorter routes. The North Country and Vesuvius Trails are good options for longer trips and provide a good challenge for hikers with some experience.

Your Next Big Adventure
Once you have learned how to take care of yourself in the wild, and practiced your skills with a few shorter trips around Ohio's state parks and forests, you might want to plan a longer trip, perhaps following one of the longer hiking or cycling routes that pass through the state, or camping out so that you can hike further. You can also use these same tips to stay safe when you travel beyond Ohio, so there are no limits to how big an adventure you can plan next.

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