This article originally appeared on Fix.com and has been republished with permission.
There are few more spectacular and humbling experiences than being at one with nature, miles from civilisation, with nothing but the flora and fauna that surrounds you as company. It’s this oneness with nature that draws hikers onto trails for remote, days-long hikes. Nature lovers will challenge themselves against the elements; surviving on the bounties of Mother Nature and their own wits.
This kind of outdoor adventure can go awry very quickly, however, if your knowledge of the native plants and animals in a given area falls short.
A basic knowledge of all animal tracks in the area is key. If you’re a hunter, you’ll understand the benefits of knowing your prey’s footprints by heart, as this will allow you to track and find your meal with far more ease. It’s equally important to be able to identify predator tracks, too, so you can avoid becoming the hunted one. Sharing a hiking trail with a pack of coyotes is not recommended.
America is home to a number of fruits and berries that can sustain a hungry traveller through weeks of survivalist camping. However, there are also a number of berries and plants that should be avoided at all costs. Understanding the difference between edible and inedible plants is as easy as checking our guide to common poisonous and safe berries and plants below. If you’re unsure or unable to identify a plant, best practice is to avoid eating it. Also, keep an eye out for a variety of plants that can cause irritation or illness through mere contact. Knowing what these plants look like from a distance will allow you to avoid coming into contact with them.
Once you’re equipped with the knowledge to stay safe around flora and fauna while hiking, you’ll appreciate them, and the overall hiking experience, that much more.