Women that are are hiking alone should absolutely be prepared and know the topography of where they will be hiking. Topography is the study of the shape and features of the surface of the Earth. What does that mean? It means you will be possibly hiking up a mountain and down a mountain. Crossing Rivers and Streams.
What is the “lay of the land” so to speak. This is really important when hiking alone. Don’t be surprised when you realize that creek crossing is more like a river crossing.
Research: Again, we go back to the first step in Leave No Trace: Plan and PREPARE. Do abundant research on where you hike will lead you. What does the elevation look like? Are there water crossings? How big are they, and do I have the proper footwear? Can I google a trip report and see what experience others have had on this trail?
Maps: If you leave home without a map of the area you will be hiking in then you are playing with fire. You have to know where you are and where you are going. NOT ALL TRAILS HAVE PRETTY WHITE BLAZE ON THE TREES FOR YOU TO FOLLOW. We suggest two kinds of maps. A topography map and a National Geographic Map (which as some topography on the map). Don’t rely on taking a picture of a map and using your cell phone. Batteries die on phones, then you have no access to your map. (we see a lot of people do this) NO.
Compass: Trails zig zag. it’s a good idea to know what direction your going. For example: Did you know there is a section of the Appalachian trail that when you are hiking Northbound, the trail is actually going due South? How confusing would that be? A compass can tell you that, and you can feel more confident whey your compass shows you that you are hiking in the right direction. In the example, you make look at your compass and say “yep, this is the section of the trail that goes south, but I know that eventually the trail turns and goes north again”. A few miles later, you look at your compass and its says North.
All of the 3 have above work in unison for you.
Research, (“I’ve read some trip reports”)
Map, (“We have to go 3 miles to the trail head”)
Compass, (“The trail head is north, and that is exactly where we are going”)
You gain confidence to hike alone, when you know you are better prepared and have some basic knowledge.