Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Sh*t Happens! Be Prepared When You Hit The Trails

LCSP Horseshoe Mt Trail Spring

What should be in a day pack? How much water is needed for a hike?  Is it safe to sneak off trail for a better view?  Are flip flops or sneakers good hiking footwear?  Even the shortest planned hike could result in injury or death if we are not prepared.

Here are some of the news stories from the past 2 days from parks and trails across the United States:
Hiker Found Dead in Nearby Nat’l Park, Police Issue Warning
Teenager falls to death on first day of Yellowstone National Park job
Two Hikers Rescued in Paria Canyon
Injured Hiker Rescued at Badlands
Portland hiker struck by lightning
Acadia hiker hurt after tumbling down slope
Fire crews aid injured hiker near Hana
Hiker Seriously Injured After 100 Foot Fall in Eaton Canyon

With each passing week the number of stories about hiking that include death and or injury have been on the rise in 2012.  Some tragic events will always be unforeseen with no fault being assigned to the hiker.   Many however could have been avoided by bringing water and food, wearing proper the footwear, knowing what to do when you see lightning or simply staying on the trails.

A few things to consider before you head out on your next hike…

  • An interview with State and National Park employees noted that the injured people they rescued often had been wearing flip flops or sneakers.  Slips, falls and twisted ankles could have been avoided if hikers had been wearing proper hiking footwear i.e. boots.
  • Stay on the trails! This week a new employee of the National Park Service decided to go off trail in Yellowstone, the rock ledge gave way leading to a fatal fall.
  • When hiking for the day in the summer heat carry a minimum of 2 quarts of water per person and an additional quart for big dogs.
  • If you see lightning or hear thunder hike down below the Tree line.
  • Keep your dog on leash!  Many injured hikers fall trying to rescue an off leash pet. A large off leash dog can easily knock a child or small adult off the trail causing unintended injuries.

Any season day pack essentials include:
· Food and water
· Map(s)
· Emergency blanket (Sweetest Gift ever from my Beloved Husband Rick)
· First aid kit (including tea tree oil)
· Whistle
· Waterproof matches or lighter (cotton balls & Vaseline for ignition source in winter)
· Insect repellent

Add boot chains and spare gloves in the winter, yes even for a “Day Hike”.  Consider carrying a small weather radio as well.  If you are hiking with pets make sure you always have a water dish and food for them as well.

Packing for a Day Hike

Finally never underestimate the weather it can change so quickly. Anyone who hikes regularly likely has a story or two of  that moment that could have resulted in injury. Mine occurred within days of each other.  In February 2010 we had a string of storms that brought snow and Ice to Hot Springs, Arkansas.  For several days I had enjoyed the beauty of hiking in the near empty Hot Springs National Park.  Each day I came home with wonderful pictures of the park in all her winter glory.  On February 08 I was only 2 1/2 miles from home when a light snow became near white out conditions, a mini blizzard.  When I arrived at the nearest rest shelter I had 2 inches of heavy wet snow on my wide brimmed hat.  Sleet, Ice and Snow on the Hot Springs Trails

Hot Springs National Park Trails Snow HS Mountain Trail

Hot Springs National Park Trails Snow HS Mountain Trail

Two days later what seemed to be a thaw in the cold suddenly became another weather challenge. Woodpeckers And Blue Jays Shadow Me on the Hot Springs Trails This is the only time I had to pack up my camera gear while hiking and put all my focus on getting home safely.  Having the proper boots, clothing plus emergency supplies kept me calm. I still keep the stick mentioned in my blog by my desk as a reminder of how quickly things can change even on the local mountain trails.

Hot Springs National Park Honeysuckle Trail Foot Prints

Hot Springs National Park Honeysuckle Trail Foot Prints

Being self-sufficient will go a long way to ensuring each hike is a wonderful adventure.
Love to ALL!

One response

  1. What an informative blog….amazing that hiking can be one of the most safe and interesting outdoor activity…or one of the deadliest. And being prepared; just like they taught us in the Scouts; is what makes it safe….and when it is safe, and one is prepared, it is really about the most outdoor fun imaginable. Thanks for posting this info. I remember your two close calls hiking in blizzards etc and of course I’m no stranger to falls. But now we know (regarding being prepared), and do it right. Makes it much more fun and interesting.

    June 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

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