Believe it or not, backpackers are primarily defined by failure – not success. The more often you mess up by busting toes, bruising limbs, and losing gear, the more durability and expertise you develop as a backpacker. With that fact firmly in mind, you may also learn as much – or more – from the mistakes of others. You can begin getting a great head start by making note of my errors and many other infamous goof-ups. Following are some basic data you must double-check before making a final decision to strap up and head out.
Everyone should be Aware of Your Location
All members of your party must know exactly where you are at all times. Make friends, coworkers and local rangers or appropriate authorities aware of the trail you intend to take. Make at least several people aware of approximately how many days your rations must last, the intended length of your trip, departure date, point of origin, destination, and the type of food you plan to take along. They should also be aware of the specific type of gear you plan to wear. This might seem to be a lot of details, but of these items is extremely important. For this reason, it is an excellent ideal to enlist a friend to drive you to the point of departure, rather than resort to solo travel. This ensures that at least one other person can subsequently pinpoint your exact departure point and time.
A recent movie production entitled “127 Hours” portrays the potential hazards of hikers trotting off without information others of his or her intentions in advance. Even with exhaustive planning ahead of time, extensive prior experience in outdoor environments, and encountering a few fellow hikers along the way, the movie’s main character still wound up losing a limb. Unlike other productions which boast of being based on “true stories,” all depicted events are entirely factual. Hiker Aron Ralston took to the trails and neglected to advise acquaintances of his intended itinerary. This oversight resulted in no one knowing of his whereabouts in order to effect a rescue in sufficient time.
Prepare an Itinerary, Comprehensive Maps, and a Solid Overall Hiking Plan
Is your cell phone able to access Google or Yahoo Maps? If so, this is a great aid to help you go just far enough into the wilderness to get hopelessly lost. Adequate reception is not a realistic expectation for those located deep within remote wilderness. By contrast, you will probably barely have any reception at all once you reach the immediate city limit exterior. Obtain comprehensive, detailed maps made of real paper that are accurate and sufficiently recent.
Do your homework well ahead of time by investigating the weather forecasts for the full duration of your planned hiking adventure. You will become better prepared for any emergency or adverse situations you may encounter. Conditions like landslides, wild animals, or poison ivy are ever-present realities for all backpackers. Thoroughly research your intended destination in advance and clearly mark your entire trail on the map. Do likewise with an additional copy and leave it with a friend before you depart. Also notate all expected arrival times and spots you prefer to avoid.
A Prior Exploratory Outing Would be Ideal
Brief hikes in the general vicinity of your intended future outdoor adventure is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the topography and whether you have the physical endurance for a full-length foray. Bring along a sack lunch and a friend on your “sneak preview” of the area prior to launching a solo hike.
By applying the mentioned tips, backpackers will be much better able to handle any unexpected surprise that may arrive during outdoor ventures. Experience and determination are also mandatory ingredients for maximum hiking enjoyment.
About the author:
Nina Montez works as an marketing/blogger for Thunderbird Resorts and a contributing writer for a local travel website.