Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Everett, Washington
| Posted: 8/27/2003, 11:44 am
|You are thinking about going hiking and you don't want to get lost or run into trouble. What should you do? First, you should get a map of the area and determine where you are going to go, how far you are going and how you are going to get back. Be sure to match your physical ability with the length and difficulty of the trail. Also find some land marks on the map so you can verify your route while you are hiking (trail intersections, washes, mountainsÖ).
Hiking alone can be very dangerous. A minor injury, such as a sprain or break, is life threatening if you are out alone. With that in mind, now you need to pick a person to go with you. Again, be sure to match their physical ability with the length and difficulty of the trail. If you are guessing, guess on the safe side. Taking someone on a hike they cannot handle puts them and you in danger.
You and your friend are ready to go; now you need to pack your bag. The most important thing you need to put in your bag on most hikes in Arizona is water. How much water you will need depends on how long you plan on being out and the weather. A good rule of thumb is a gallon of water per day per person. The next most important thing to have in your bag is a map, compass and/or GPS (and spare batteries), and of course you need to know how to use them. Also, make sure you dress (shoes included) for the weather and trail; and be sure you are prepared for potential weather. Other things you should have include:
Knife or multi-purpose tool
First Aid Kit
Another thing that you may want to bring is a cell phone. Make sure the battery is charged and don't turn it on unless you need it since batteries die fast when itís looking for a signal.
Lastly, before you leave for your hike, let someone know where you are going, when you'll be back and what vehicle you are driving. If no one knows you are gone, no one will know to call Search and Rescue when you don't come home. If no one knows where you are, search and rescue won't know where to look. If they know where you are and what car you drove, they can verify the trail head you started at and find you quickly.
Once you are on the trail, stay on the trail and try to stick to your intended route and plan. Deviating from your plan is not a good idea. Be aware of landmarks as you go so if you do get lost you can back track. Also, look back often. Things look very different when you are coming from the other direction. Finally, check your map/GPS/compass regularly to verify you are on course. Not all trails are on the map, itís easy to make a wrong turn and end up miles off course before realizing it.
Other things to remember: If itís an out and back hike and you are going down hill to start, going up hill on the way out will take more time and be more tiring. Never assume a hike is a loop hike (it happens). Never assume there will be drinkable water. Hiking until your tired and turning around is a bad plan. And finally, be aware of when the sun sets and be back before then unless you are planning a night hike (which you probably shouldnít do unless you know what you are doing).