Nature enthusiast Carl Shane Kistel enjoys all the outdoor activities his home state of North Carolina has to offer, including leading slot canyon tours for locals and visitors each week. Below, he shares a few professional hiking safety tips that ensure anyone on a guided tour can enjoy their experience to the fullest.
North Carolina offers plenty of recreational hobbies for natives like Carl Shane Kistel such as rock climbing, kayaking, fishing, and camping. Hiking tours are some of the most popular activities in the state–mainly due to the rich variety of natural landscapes for hikers to travel through. Here, they can experience rushing rivers, thick forests teeming with wildlife, rocky cliffs and mountainsides, flowering valleys, slot canyons and more.
“It’s a paradise for outdoor recreation,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “There’s a little something for everyone to do year-round and plenty of opportunities to experience the best sights and excursions nature offers.”
After traveling along beginner trails and advanced routes for years, Kistel has become familiar with natural canyon pathways. Sharing his knowledge of the area and his love of nature, he regularly provides guided hiking tours through the narrower and more challenging slot canyon trails in the area.
Slot canyons are different from other hiking trails because of their steep, vertical walls and tight pathways that can become so narrow hikers can touch both canyon walls at once. While they’re an exciting excursion for any seasoned or novice hiker, Kistel believes the focus of canyon hiking tours should always be safety first.
“There’s too much potential for danger out here in the wild for people to be careless or unprepared when showing up for a hike,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “I like to share a few insider tips with guests before we meet up for a tour to ensure they have a safe, enjoyable hike through the canyons.”
Stay with the Tour Guide
Slot canyons are tricky to navigate as there are many sharp angles, narrow passages, branching paths and more. Tour guides are experienced navigators who have trekked dozens or hundreds of times through the canyon passageways, so it’s wise not to stray from their lead. It’s important to stick only to designated trails pointed out by the guide.
Headaches, excessive dry mouth, and dizziness are all signs of dehydration, which can lead to anything from fainting to death. It’s important hikers stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during their excursions. Every hiker should bring enough water with them to last much longer than the allotted hiking time.
If you experience any kind of medical complications or are required to keep up blood sugar levels, you should pack any foods or medications for the trip that you would need during a worst-case scenario. Mention any complications to your guide ahead of time as well to ensure a safe trip.
“While slot canyon tours typically aren’t dangerous, it’s in every hiker’s best interest to stay prepared with proper supplies and knowledge,” says Carl Shane Kistel.