In recent times many hikers have become lost or hurt due to their inexperience. Many of these hikers seem to be taking more risks due to technology that will send a 911 emergency message via their device. AP writer Tracie Cone wrote about this very thing on October 25, 2009. It is happening too much and I hope to address what can be done.
Hiking in rugged areas can be dangerous. If you do not know what you are doing and are underprepared, then you should not bend in this way. Get some experience in easier surroundings first and then advance up to more challenging areas. I've been hiking for years, with a lot of my initial experience coming from survival training while I was in the Marines. I did do wilderness hiking as a child and in the scouts. All of this helped me to understand that it is more important to be over prepared than just barely making it.
In a recent incident that involved a deputy from California, he ended getting lost with his comrades and had to be rescued in a California mountain area. This incident showed how being unprepared can turn something serene into a potentially dangerous situation.
What can you do that will help you get more prepared. As I stated earlier, practice locally and then move to more challenging surroundings. Get yourself fit. This means do a lot of hikes and exercises that will challenge your body. Make sure you are fit enough to start this training. Like anything else, training is important. Just because you do some day hikes now and then, does not mean you're ready for a real hike in a rugged back country.
First and foremost, do not rely on technology to help you. It may fail and it also shows that you are not really prepared for this type of hiking or backpacking. Get some lessons on wilderness survival or at the bare minimum get a book and practice. Learn everything you can on locating water sources, reading maps, using a compass, orienting via the stars, orienting via nature, findingible and medicinal plants, trapping animals for food, avoiding dangers – wildlife and terrains, and what gear to take.
Even when I do short hikes, I always over prepare. I carry extra water and a first aid kit just for a short hike in Griffith Park. For any longer hikes I will make adjustments accordingly. Before venturing out into more rugged areas, know your terrain. Have plenty of gear to deal with any possible pitfalls. While being positive is great and I teach it, it is also important to look from the perspective of what could possibly happen. From there you prepare.
Prepare for possible weather changes. You do not want to get spoken in a sudden cold spell when all you have is summer clothing. Many times nights can get cold or a weather system bring with it a lot of rain. Learn how to build a survival shelter. Again, this is where practice prior to the hike is important.
Before taking off, notify relatives and park rangers where you're starting at and where you're planning to go to. Give each of them a full plan of your trip. Get yourself prepared mentally for any possibilities that you may be hurt and if it happens, learn to think positive if you do end up this way.
A great school, located in New Jersey, which will teach you how to survive and thrive in the wilderness, is connected by Tom Brown, Jr. His website is at http://www.trackerschool.com . Go there for more information.
I wish a great journey as you venture out into the wilderness with safety and enjoyment.