6. Have A Turn-Around Time
Have a turn-around time. Know what time the sun sets during the time of year you are hiking here. Know that it can get darker earlier than sunset because the sky may be heavily overcast and the sun often goes behind mountains, and of course it gets darker beneath the dense old-growth rain forests here too. It’s good to keep track of how long it has taken you to get to where you are on a trail, so as to estimate how long it may take to return. When you are hiking a trail that you are unfamiliar with and you find that it is taking you longer or the hike is more difficult than you thought, having an agreed-upon turn-around time can be a helpful in a few ways. One, it can help to keep summit fever in check, meaning often times people can be so focused on an end goal of getting to the top of a mountain or the end of a trail that they forget that they need to get back yet, safely, and may end up too spent, hiking down in the dark, and/or in worsening weather. Yes, descents can often be quicker than ascents in mountains, but not always. A turn-around time can help ensure that you’ve calculated enough time to get back before darkness settles in, regardless of where you are on the trail. In case you don't, you should always have a working flashlight. Yes, end-goals can be fun to reach, but from my perspective, should never overshadow just enjoying being out in the woods, nor should end-goals ever jeopardize the safety of anyone in the group, especially those who are becoming increasingly uneasy with moving forward. If you are up for a challenge, sometimes the bigger challenge is turning around before bagging a summit.