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Plan for a Day Hike, Part 3

Posted on : 04-06-2009 | By : admin | In :


Compass, Map, GPS

Unless the trail is clearly defined and there is no chance of losing your bearings you probably will want to bring along a map and compass or a GPS.  Each of these instruments can be a life saver when you are lost, however, they depend on your taking the time to learn how to use them prior to being lost in the wilderness.

So, whatever your preference is, take the time to attempt to navigate an area that you can’t get lost in before you trust your safety and well being to a device you haven’t trained on. Here are some books on Compass Navigation and here are some on GPS Navigation.

Also, here are some links to where you can buy a Compass and where you can buy a GPS.

Finally, don’t forget to get a map. You can buy maps at your local sporting goods store, but there are a lso a couple of great websites that provide great deal of information about local hikes. One is called, ThisHikingTrail.com and the other is called, LocalHikes.com. Check them out, I’m sure they will help you. This brings us to the second part of preparing for a day hike; Check Your Route and Directions.

Check Your Route and Directions

As I just mentioned, it is important to have some form of navigation (compass, GPS, map) with you at all times. Equally important is checking on the conditions before you leave.

If you are hiking in a National or State Forest or Park you can often check their respective websites for the area you are visiting. Additionally, when you get to the area you are hiking it is helpful to stop at the Ranger Station. You will pick up your most valuable advice from the people who spend the most time in the area.  Since you are dealing with  nature you have to remember that conditions change. Accordingly, the hike you went on last year might not be the same this year, even though you are going to the same location.

If the area you are hiking is not listed on a State or National Forest or Park website, check with other private websites. You can check the two websites I mentioned earlier (ThisHikingTrail.com and LocalHikes.com) or you can just do a Google search.

Just make sure that you have as much information as possible. I remember when I was living in Alaska and I was going for a day hike. I stopped off at the Ranger Station just to find out that a mother moose and her calf had been spotted in the area. This was great information since moose can be more vicious than grizzly bear when they are protecting their calves. I elected to go on down the road and hike elsewhere that day. Who know’s what could have happened if I wouldn’t have stopped to check in.

This leads us to my next point on the checklist.

Check Your Gear and Packing

Because you have already made a list of what you are bringing on your hike, this part of the plan should be relatively simple. All you need to do is go through your gear and make sure you have what you need.  A written checklist might seem overkill, but it is the best way to make sure that you have everything. Just like I said above, the last thing you want to happen is to need something only to realize that it is still at your house. 

This is  a simple rule that will save your tail someday in the bush. Follow this rule everytime you go out and you will avoid many potential issues.

Continue to Part 4