Safety in Hiking
April 13, 2011
Every once in a while, we are reminded how important it is to take a few extra precautions before heading out to hike.
One family experienced a potentially serious situation when hiking out in the Blavet Gorges by Bagnols-en-Foret by Frejus this week. They headed out late, beginning the hike at 6PM. Nightfall came quickly. With the night, no light to help them see the path. They got lost.
We enjoy the Gorges du Blavet hike. We've marked it as "Medium" difficulty in our hiking guide, not "Easy". That's because, as the guide explains, you need to watch your step especially on the descent. In the dark, it's outright dangerous.
Thankfully, fire-fighters and the GRIMP (Groupe de Reconnaissance et d’Intervention en Milieu Périlleux) rescue team found the group and brought them back to safety. But it was no doubt a terrifying experience for them!
Some hiking spots are more prone to accidents than others. Here in the South Eastern part of France, the Gorges du Verdon are stunning & fantastic to hike. But accidents happen there regularly on the more technical of the hiking trails & on canyoning trips. I don't recommend going on the more technical longer Verdon trails without a guided group.
In the French Riviera, hikes are usually calm and worry-free. But caution always applies on any hike:
- Make sure you wear appropriate shoes with good gripping soles. We still see a lot of folks struggling on the Sentier du Littoral coastal paths with heels or city shoes. Not fun.
- Check on weather before you head out. For coastal walks, don't go if the sea is agitated and waves are picking up.
- Bring plenty of water as very few hiking paths in this region offer water fountains.
- Head out in the morning rather than in the afternoon. This is especially true for mountain hikes (the sun sets earlier in the valleys of the Maures Mountains) and at the bottom of gorges.
- Always let someone outside your hiking group know the path you're hiking on and your expected return time.
- Bring your cell phone.
Nothing is without risk, you say. True. I broke a rib on a perfectly safe hiking trail with a bizarre acrobatic tumble! But a few extra cautionary steps help keep the risks nice and low. Local fire-fighters and rescue teams here are very competent, but it's best you not have to find that out first-hand during your vacation!