Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Discover Orienteering in Alabama

There are few things more enjoyable than heading out into the wilderness with friends to ramble away an afternoon or longer. The feeling of getting out onto the trails in Huntsville make for a superb way to keep fit, seeing the countryside and spending time with friends and family. Given the fact that Alabama has an arguably perfect environment for orienteering, it is well worth while getting to grips with some of the facts and information, with a view to getting into the wild and giving it a go.
Orienteering is especially good for children as it can teach many useful skills in addition to some useful techniques that could prove very useful in survival or difficult situations. For those on a budget in these financially challenging times, getting out into the wilderness provides a great day out in addition to offering an educational and fitness element. Depending upon the severity of trails you choose in Huntsville, navigating your way over state lines can be quite a testing workout. You must of course be fully prepared and have all the suitable equipment with you.
Making sure you have all the equipment is always essential, even if you are walking the most straightforward trails, weather or an unexpected injury can turn into a problem if not properly equipped. Given the quite hot temperatures during the summer months it is crucial to remember to take sufficient fluids, which are best stowed in a backpack. Although it may be tempting it is not always best practice to drink from free flowing water due to the fact that it is often difficult to know what contaminants may lay up stream. In all cases using clothing layers is good idea when hiking as altitude and weather conditions can provide for a huge variety of temperatures and climate conditions. Most of the trails are marked well and there is a plethora of information online to guide those unfamiliar the area. For those looking to go off the beaten track there are many very rewarding and challenging routes to take, though they will require good traditional orienteering skills or a GPS computer. Sturdy walking boots are another great investment sure to provide you with many years of walking and outdoor enjoyment. These days there are many modern materials apart from leather that make for very reasonably priced and effective footwear. Ankle support is important in mountainous regions, as it could be a problem if an ankle injury was sustained at higher altitude. Good ankle support will mitigate against this to a large extent, but if an injury did prevent movement from an exposed area, then your equipment will become quickly important. For these reasons, even if it seems a little like overkill, it is sound advice to take the standard emergency provisions of a first aid kit, rudimentary camping provisions and of course the right basic equipment to start with.
The wildlife is fantastic reason in itself to venture out and see all that Alabama has to offer, being an education for both adults and children alike. It is of course worth noting that there are some poisonous animals indigenous to the area so some restraint/knowledge is useful. Again, wearing the correct shoes is a very good start as they will protect against anything in the undergrowth that you might inadvertently startle. When entering any area, use caution and although there are actually very few poisonous snakes in Huntsville it is always best to leave them alone. Snakes usually only become defensive if they feel threatened and cornered. Passing this information onto to children in a group before setting out for a hike is usually a good idea (without of course scarring them too much!).  
If anyone in the party is unfortunate enough to be bitten by a snake then you do need to seek medical attention immediately. Try and remember what the snake looked like and try and keep the victim calm and immobile. They should not be moved unless absolutely necessary.
A note on Alabama's Hunting Season
Hikers should also make themselves aware of the various hunting seasons when those using the trials or exploring the wilderness should wear orange. There is some very good general information available from the Alabama Hiking Trail Society which can give you detailed information about trails and points of interest and places to rest.
In essence, although there are some sensible precautions to take and so long as the correct equipment is brought, anyone can have a fabulous time in the vast and beautiful landscape of Alabama. Be a safe, ethical hiker, and enjoy the delights of Alabama.

Have a blessed Day. Betty Maloney
Longing For Home Bed and Breakfast
"A State of Mind, A Place of Grace, A Way of Life*"
* Taken from the book, How to be a Better Southerner by Carolyn Kent.

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