There is a saying we’ve all heard many times that is very fitting when going into the wilderness.
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
In the last six months we have experienced several incidences in the backcountry that really heightened our awareness at just how dangerous the backcountry can be. From a person breaking a leg only a mile from the trailhead to another getting severely sick we quickly went from a fun outing to a life threatening situation. We aren’t experts, but we just want to get you thinking before going out for hike.
Let someone know your plan
Arriving at the trailhead be sure to register with the forest service and let them know your plan for the trip when available. Regardless if this service is available, you should always notify a friend. Key details to include:
- Where you are going
- What time will you return
- Who is with you
These simple bits of information could make all the difference in an emergency situation.
Check the weather forecast
Before even stepping outside for a hike check how the weather is going to be. Don’t use the typical weather.com service instead go to the National Oceanic and Atomspheric Administration website and use the pinpoint tool to determine the conditions. It’s also good to check out the forecast discussion. Here you will find any additional concerns meteorologists are discussing. Understanding what type of weather to look for will make you better prepared.
Bring Mylar Space Blankets
First thing you’ll think is why isn’t water a higher priority? You can last a couple of days without water, longer without food, but not even a couple of hours without protection from the elements. Sure you can bring extra clothing, but having a cheap mylar space blanket is a better option. Why? Because they are multi-purpose. Often they are used as a rain cover, a rain catcher, a solar still, or a blanket. It’s something that everyone should carry.
If something bad does happen another thing everyone should always be concerned about is dehydration. Especially in the Sierra Nevadas waiting for rain to get water is like thinking that you’ll win the lottery. The majority of precipitation falls in the winter. Having something like a straw filter or pills could save your life if you do end up being in the wild longer than expected.
Fire is always critical
Depending on how much of an expert you are in the wilderness you could bring a flint to spark a fire or better yet some matches. You never know what will happen and fire will keep you warm on a cold evening when the temperature drops.
First Aid Kit
Finally, the forests and desserts of North America are exciting and beautiful, but one wrong step you could break a leg, put a gash into your skin, or make you sick. Falling is the number one cause of death so having a small medical kit is something you should at least think about carrying.
This is not an exhaustive list, but to make you think before heading out there by yourself.