Tourism is the biggest business in Hawaii. Ocean activities and hiking are the most popular activities on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Both are fun, unique and can be amazing. However, such activities can also be deadly. It’s a tourism office’s obligation to educate visitors about the risks when swimming or when going hiking.
Today, the body of missing hiker Noah “Kekai” Mina was found early this morning in a summit region of Mauna Kahalawai on the island of Maui. He was not a tourist, but an experienced local hiker. His family confirmed to local media that searchers in a helicopter spotted Mina’s body about 300 feet below a fall line. Recovery efforts are currently underway.
Mina, 35, had been missing since Monday, May 20. Just earlier this week in an unrelated case, a Maui hiker was rescued after lost in Maui’s forests for 17 days. This case receives ongoing global media coverage
No one sets out to run into trouble, but even experienced hikers can lose their footing, encounter a threatening wild animal, or simply get turned around on the trail. The Maui Visitors Bureau dedicated a page on their tourist information website on safety tips for hikers
When hiking on Maui, be sure to be prepared with these essentials:
- Good hiking shoes with tread
- Light pants to keep cool or shorts (but beware that you may get scratches from branches)
- Light shirt to keep cool
- Light rain jacket and mosquito repellent (especially if you are going into rainforests or valleys)
- Backpack with enough water, lunch and sunscreen (depending on length and intensity of hike)
- Cell phone
For longer, tougher hikes you may want to also include:
- Work gloves
- First Aid Kit
- Additional water and food
For safety reasons, DO NOT hike alone if at all possible, but if you must, make sure to tell someone where you are going. DO NOT drink water from freshwater ponds or streams you may encounter during your hike. Avoid entering streams or ponds with open cuts. Stick to the trail and follow trail head markers to avoid getting lost. With a little preparation, your Maui hike will reap unforgettable rewards.
Learn more about the State of Hawaii Trail and Access Program, NA ALA HELE.
Hiking organizations such as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the American Hiking Society have must-follow advice for keeping yourself and your hiking partners safe before and during your outdoor adventure.
The right equipment
From hiking boots to SPF, all hiking experts agree that preparing the right equipment is the most important pre-hike step.
Your mobile phone — “Carrying cellphones into the backcountry was once controversial and now is quite commonplace,” the PCT Association writes. “Be aware that carrying a cellphone does not guarantee your safety and is not an excuse for poor planning.”
Despite that warning, hikers’ lives are saved every year because they were able to call for help with their cellphone. If you’re going on a backcountry hike where you know cell service is limited, consider carrying a beacon.
A backpack with the essentials — Water and a snack are obvious. Other items to keep in your hiking pack at all times: Sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF over 30; a headlamp, whistle and lighter are crucial for emergencies; a light waterproof jacket or poncho and one of those silly-looking foil blankets to keep you warm; a knife or multi-tool; a first-aid kit with gauze, tape, scissors and iodine.\
A map and a compass — You might think you know the trail like the back of your hand, but accidents happen, and it’s possible for anyone to get turned around or lose the path. If you need to start bushwhacking to get back to civilization, a compass is critical. You can’t always rely on cell service to provide mobile-phone directions. With a trail map (and some quick training on how to read a topographic map), you will be able to pick out landmarks that wouldn’t otherwise be labeled on Google: gentle slopes, steep ravines and very large boulders will all be labeled on a low-tech topo map.
Footwear — If you’re setting out for a day hike on a low or medium difficulty trail, regular trail shoes could do the trick. But if you know you’ll encounter steep terrain or other obstacles for which you need better footing, hiking boots with high-tops are recommended by experts to give your ankles extra support and help prevent sprains and breaks.
In short, even on a day hike, equip yourself in case of an emergency. You aren’t going to know ahead of time when one will happen.
The poisonous stuff — Between ivy, oak and sumac, there’s no escaping the risk of running into an oily, itch-generating plant, whether you realize it or not. Being able to identify the plants goes a long way in alleviating the risk, but you can’t examine every leaf you pass. After your hike, wash your hands and arms with a mineral-spirit based cleaner like Tecnu to remove the oils. When you get home, wash your clothes with regular detergent at a high temperature, and wash them alone to avoid spreading it to other clothes. Shower and wash your extremities with a Tecnu-like product to decrease the risk of a reaction.’