Many people enjoy taking trips into nature, but they may not always be prepared for when nature turns on them. In the worst cases, this leaves park rangers and rescue rangers to search for and recover lost hikers. Retired rescue ranger Bil Vandergraff provides some key tips that can help prevent disaster for hikers and campers.
- Before going out, make sure to have a working knowledge of the terrain. Vandergraff, who worked in the Grand Canyon, has many stories of people who ran out of water on a hot day and started a desperate attempt at finding water. Little did they know, a running creek was closer than the campers expected, and they died of exhaustion and dehydration before they could reach a creak they knew about further away.
- Wear the proper clothing. This applies primarily to hiking during the summer months because of the preferable temperatures, but the advice is useful year round. In the summer months, wear clothing that that is breathable and that retains moisture. Pick a comfortable hat that will shade your face. In the winter, bring many layers and pack clothes that wick moisture away from your body. Start the trip with fewer layers because your body will warm up during the excursion.
- Carry only the essentials. The goal of a trip into the mountains or the Grand Canyon is not to have a luxury camping experience, but to enjoy nature and the hike. Carrying too many items in a backpack will tired you out sooner, causing you cut your distance traveled short. On the flip side, do not stress out about getting as far as you can. This will also cause you to tire out when you may still have a camp to set up for the evening.
- Once you are on the trail with the right shoes and gear, watch where you step. Avoiding a fall is very important, especially as the days go on. Be sure to take it slow and make sure that your footing is stable if traveling along a steep hill or thin edge.
These are but a few of the great tips new hikers and campers should follow when going into nature on their own. Taking these points and applying them thoroughly to a trip could be the difference between an exciting weekend and a trip to the hospital in a helicopter.