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Tips for staying safe in the mountains this spring and summer

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By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

Bring layers.

Carry layers including raingear, synthetic or wool base layers, and mid layers. Be sure to change with the weather, and as you warm up or cool off with exercise.

Quality footwear is key.

Good synthetic or wool socks and a sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes will keep your feet happy. Shoes with good traction can help you avoid an ankle twist or a slip to the ground. If you’re headed out on a long hike, be sure your shoes are broken in.

Don’t leave the emergency gear at home.

Even for short day hikes, emergency gear should include a phone, a headlamp and a medical kit with tape, painkillers, gauze and other necessities. Know what’s in your kit, and how to use it. Also, watch how you’re feeling throughout the day – even minor health issues can be aggravated by strenuous exercise.

Eat and drink.

Hiking is supposed to be fun! Bringing yummy, healthy snacks, and carrying (and drinking) at least 1-2 quarts of water will help you feel good and enjoy the day.

Protect yourself from the sun.

This means wearing sunglasses and a sun hat, wearing and reapplying sunscreen, and potentially rolling down your sleeves to protect yourself.

Know where you’re going.

Bring a map and compass and/or a GPS, and be aware of nearby landmarks, as well as the time.

Go light.

While it’s important to be prepared, you also don’t want to carry too much weight or bulk, which makes it more difficult to move efficiently and safely in the mountains.

Tell someone where you’re going.

Even experienced hikers and mountaineers sometimes get into unforeseen trouble. Always make sure someone knows where you are, and when you plan to be back.

Be bear aware.

Travel with a group of 2-3 people, and make noise as you hike along a trail. Be on the lookout for bear sign including fresh tracks, scat, natural foods like carcasses, and turned over logs and scratched trees.

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