Other Backcountry Safety Tips
The most important part of surviving—and enjoying—the backcountry is to be prepared. Know where you’re going: Get maps, camping information, and weather and trail conditions from a ranger before setting out. Don’t hike alone. Two are better than one, and three are better than two—if someone gets hurt, one person can stay with the injured party and one can go for help. Bring more than enough food so hunger won’t cause you to continue when weather conditions say stop. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Always carry the 10 essentials: map, compass, water bottle, first-aid kit, flashlight, matches (or lighter) and fire starter, knife, extra clothing (a full set, in case you fall in a stream) including rain gear, food, and sunglasses—especially if you’re hiking on snow. In addition, many hikers now carry cellular phones in areas where the coverage allows for communication.
Check your ego at the trailhead; stop for the night when the weather gets bad—even if it’s 2 p.m.—or head back. Don’t press on when you’re exhausted—tired hikers are sloppy hikers, and even a small injury can be disastrous in the woods.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition