For example, there are people who hit the trail wearing flip-flops, with no backpack or water, he said, or cars that show up to busy trailheads at 11 a.m. on a weekend, hoping to find a place to park. While there are always people making those rookie mistakes, there were far more on Mount Hood this past summer.
“Definitely a big portion of those people were first-time hikers,” Watts said. “I think people think this is like a state park or something with more development, something with help around every corner.”
While there are plenty of safe places for inexperienced hikers to get outdoors, many people are drawn to marquee destinations that show up on social media, which can require more effort to get to. That also means more precautions are necessary, including day packs with items like first aid, maps and water.
On his first outdoor excursion, a group backpacking trip in the Coast Range, Bishop said he was surprised at all he didn’t know. He hadn’t thought to pack things like rope, a flashlight and trekking poles that his more experienced friends brought along, and he hadn’t fully prepared for discomforts like bugs and blisters.
He was lucky to have the expertise of more experienced hikers, he said, which helped keep him safe and comfortable, allowing the experience to be profoundly transformative.