Tips for Hiking Safely

After reading about accidents in the White Mountains and in Baxter State Park it was clear to me that my next blog had to be about hiking safely. Not all these accidents are due to inexperience. Often, folks with years of experience find themselves unprepared for the conditions they are faced with. You never know when conditions will change. Weather can be unpredictable. I have found myself on the Knife Edge in Baxter State Park when the weather, which was predicted to be warm, sunny, and low wind, suddenly change and become cold and windy.

Here is the list of items that are always in my daypack:
Survival Bag
  • Fire starter (I carry waterproof matches, a lighter, and dryer lint in a small zip lock bag)
  • Small lightweight tarp (a large contractor bag will work for a tarp or rain jacket)
  • Mylar emergency blanket (reflects back your heat and also can be used to signal searchers)
  • High calorie snacks
  • Water purification tablets
  • Headlamp
  • 25′ parachute cord
  • Whistle
  • Pocket knife (not pictured)
  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties
  • Baseplate compass (and know how to use it)
  • Map of the area
Extra Warm Clothing
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Fleece or other insulating layer
  • Extra wool socks
  • Hat & gloves
First Aid Supplies
  • 3 Triangular bandages
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Maxi pads (for bleeding control)
  • Mole skin
  • Tweezers
  • Emergency blanket
  • 4″ Wrap
  • 3″ Roller gauze
  • 2″ Medical tape
  • Assorted band-aids
  • 4×4 Sterile gauze
  • Small notebook
  • Gloves

This list may seem extensive but I fit all my emergency gear into a small 6″x3″ pack, the first aid kit easily fits into a quart size zip lock, and the clothing is in my pack. It’s relatively inexpensive to put together too! You can get a good baseplate compass for around $15.00. A trip to a second hand store will get you a fleece, rain jacket, hat, and mittens for under $20.00!

Other Considerations:
  • Before leaving for your adventure, do your homework. Research your route. Do you have time to complete the intended hike before nightfall? If something happens unexpectedly, is there an easier route down?
  • Leave a hiking plan with someone at home. It should include where you are going, who you are with, and the time you expect to be back. Also, include emergency contact numbers in case they need to reach you.
  • Carry emergency numbers with you, Warden Service, Park Service, and local hospital. I usually carry a cell phone. However, you can not always count on cell service. Knowing the quickest way down (your evacuation route) will help if you need to get down quickly (inclement weather, setting sun, etc…)
  • Set a turn-around time and stick with it! The mountain will always be there and if it isn’t, you might have much larger problems to deal with!

I love that people are getting out and enjoying nature. Please stay safe, be responsible, and and take care of yourself and your hiking buddies.  As we enter the colder months the margin of error gets smaller. Know before you go and be prepared. I have included links to several of my other blogs that may be helpful as we enter the winter hiking season.

Managing Hypothermia

Dress for Success

Ice Safety

Embrace the Winter

Respecting Natural Places

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