We all had to start out backpcking somewhere. Just in case you are just beginning to look at backpacking as a lifetime sport, let me give you some clues.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope I share my love for hiking and camping with you to the level where you also fall in love with a lifetime hobby. I started when I was 12 and at 74+ I still enjoy packing up and getting away for a days.
So if you are interested in going hiking? Whether you would like spend one day hiking or five days, you will need to find a hiking park to visit and a hiking trial to hike. Although you can choose to go on any hiking trial that you want, you may want to take the time to find and choose the best one. Those who take the time to examine a number of different hiking trials and handpick their favorite ones are more likely to have an enjoyable time.
Although it is nice to hear that you should take the time to find the perfect hiking trail, you may be wondering exactly how you can go about doing so. In all honesty, there are an unlimited number of different ways that you can go about finding the “perfect,” hiking trail. A few of the many approaches that you can take are outlined below.
One of the easiest ways that you can go about finding a great hiking trail to hike is by asking those that you know for recommendations. Asking those that you know for recommendations is nice and easy because it limits the amount of research that you have to do yourself. If you know of anyone, like a friend, family member, neighbor, or coworker, who enjoys hiking, you may want to see if they can recommend any good hiking trails to you. You will want to try and find hiking trails that are well maintained, cheap to hike, as well safe.
Another way that you can go about finding a great hiking trail to hike is by contacting any of your local hiking trails or hiking parks. If you are looking to hike locally, you should be able to find the contact information of local hiking trials or hiking parks by using your local phone book. By contacting some of your local hiking parks or hiking trails, you may be able to get information on the trials in question. In addition to getting information over the phone, you may also be able to request that you have a few brochures, like maps, mailed to your home. If you live close enough to the hiking trail or park that you would like more information on, you may want to think about stopping by to get the same information in person.
If you are interested in not hiking locally, but hiking a distance that is away from your home, you may be wondering how you can go about researching hiking trials or hiking parks. Of course, you can use the internet and other resources, but you may want to think about waiting until you get to your destination. As previously mentioned, asking those that you know for recommendations is a great way to find a good hiking trail. When you arrive at your destination, you may want to think about asking some local residents for hiking trail recommendations.
As previously stated, you can also use the internet to help you research local and non-local hiking trails, as well as hiking parks in general. When it comes to using the internet, one of your best options is performing a standard internet search. When you perform a standard internet search, you will want to search with phrases like “hiking parks,” or “hiking trails.” If you know where you would like to go hiking, like in what city or in what state, you may want to incorporate your destination into your search. This may help give you more tailored results. Speaking of those results, you will likely be connected to websites that are referred to as hiking websites. These websites often provide you with information on hiking, as well as information on popular hiking trails.
When performing a standard internet search, you may also come across the online websites of local hiking parks or hiking trials. If you find those online websites, you will want to thoroughly examine them. The internet is a great way to research hiking parks and hiking trails to find the one or ones that are best for you, your wants, as well as your needs.
Another good source for locating hiking trails is the REI store near you. They usually stock maps and brochures of local hiking trails. Some areas have hiking clubs which are a vast pool of experienced hikers who can steer you right – the first time. ANd don’t overlook hiking clubs in our area the PATC is very active. You can begin as a newbie by getting involved in their group backpack hikes. They have different levels of trails so you can pick and choose.
You really do need to plan for your daily supply of drinking water.
Water and it’s daily requirements is a necessary consideration before going backpacking.
We all know the human body is 90% water. And that it needs to be constantly replaced. 6 – 8 glasses of water a day are recommended for just normal activity in a normal clime. Water effects our bodies and our physical well being but the lack of it can also affect our mental functions.
So before we saddle up and head off into the wild country we need to dig into where our water is going to come from on our trek.
As I mentioned earlier I manage risk well and I do that by planning my backpack trip. I look at my destination and how I will return. For me it usually involves an overnighter where I take off and stay out 1 night returning to my car the following evening. I like this form because I don’t have to carry so much food in my backpack. The trip I really like but at 74+ I take maybe 2 – 3 times a year is the 3 night out. It will resemble a baseball diamond. Where you plan on getting to 3rd base with a days trip left to your camp. And, you get the treat of a 3 night campout.
The idea is to plan as well as you can to be at your destination campsite by an hour or two before dark.
I have always been able to find fresh water where I backpack to. Water weighs 8.5# per gallon so it can get pretty heavy if you are carrying a lot of it. I can only remember one time running short of water. I was backpacking North out of Fairbanks, Alaska and just on the edge of Yukon River. Flat plateau and the two of us were in need of water. I went up to a old cabin, knocked on the door and asked the Lady of the house where I could find water. She gestured to the Yukon and repeated. “whocon, whocon”. And, we did. I learned a lot later that the river is laden with heavy metals and not a good place to drink from. But then I have friends who credit my active longevity with those drinks from the “whocon”.
In summary you can’t carry a long distance a lot of water. Mainly because of its weight and also because it is very bulky. Most trail maps will mark where water is available. Springs, etc. In the wilderness areas you need to be able to read a topographical map. This map will show you the topography of the area and from that information you should be able to find your own water. Please done’t try this until you are more experienced.
So do your research before you pack out. Planning always pays off. I have been solo backpacking for over 50 years and I probably couldn’t write a short story on trail emergencies. I leave that to the TV producers.
Don’t treat life as a spectator sport,
Yup, fall and winter are approaching and as I have mentioned, this is my favorite time of the year to backpack . The equipment and clothing we have available to us today make year round backpackng an all year -round outdoor hobby. I have a few more tips for cold weather backpacking and I hope you get to enjoy some of it this winter….Be Careful!
I hope you already have gone and looked either on the internet or at a good outdoor sports shop and seen how reasonable good backpacking equipment is. Not only that, most of it will last a lifetime. Like kayaking which I also love, once you have made the initial investment it’s pretty much a free pastime or entertainment.
As brightly colored leaves dazzle the fall landscape, hikers and hunters nationwide will migrate to mountains, woods and fields. So, you need to think ahead of the chance of a hunter mistakenly thinking your are his prize deer walking through the woods. A brightly colored cap and in some instances a orange vest are recommended. Particularly if it is deer rifle season in your area. Hunting is not allowed in the Federal Parks but that doesn’t mean no one hunts there. Be prepared.
“Hikers, and others who love the outdoors often don’t realize how strenuous it can be to withstand constant, vigorous walking on uneven terrain,” said Marco Vargas, DPM, AACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon based in Sugar Land, TX. An avid outdoorsman himself, Vargas said lax physical conditioning and inappropriate footwear bring scores of outdoor enthusiasts into his office each fall for treatment of foot and ankle problems such as chronic heel pain, ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, fungal infections and severe blisters.
“Walking up and down steep hillsides and tramping through wet, slippery fields and wooded areas puts stress on the muscles and tendons in the feet and ankles, especially if you haven’t conditioned properly before hitting the trail,” said Vargas. “Also, many don’t realize that cross-training athletic shoes aren’t the best choice for extended hiking . Had some of my patients worn sturdy, well constructed hiking boots, they wouldn’t haaltopive suffered sprained ankles or strained Achilles tendons.”
Vargas advises hikers and hunters to make the investment in -top quality hiking boots. He said strong, well insulated and moisture-proof boots with steel or graphite shanks offer excellent ankle and foot support that helps lessen stress and muscle fatigue to reduce injury risk. “The supportive shank decreases strain on the arch by allowing the boot to distribute impact as the foot moves forward. So if a boot bends in the middle, don’t buy it.”
In wet and cold weather, wearing the right socks can help prevent blisters, fungal infections and frostbite. Vargas recommends synthetic socks as the first layer to keep the feet dry and reduce blister-causing friction. For the second layer, wool socks add warmth, absorb moisture away from the skin, and help make the hiking boot more comfortable. “Wool lets moisture evaporate more readily than cotton, so fewer blisters develop,” added Vargas.
What happens if your feet or ankles hurt during a hike ? Vargas said pain usually occurs from overuse, even from just walking. “If you’re not accustomed to walking on sloped or uneven ground, your legs and feet will get tired and cause muscles and tendons to ache,” he explained. “To avoid a serious injury, such as a severe ankle sprain or an Achilles tendon rupture, rest for awhile if you start hurting.”
According to the ACFAS consumer website, FootPhysicians.com, pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. “Serious injury risk escalates significantly if you continue hiking in pain,” Vargas said. He likened hiking to skiing in that beginners should take on less difficult trails until they become better conditioned and more confident.
Vargas also recommends visiting a foot and ankle surgeon if there is persistent foot or ankle pain following a hiking or hunting outing. “I’m most concerned about ankle instability and strained Achilles tendons. Inattention to these problems at their early stages may lead to a serious injury that will keep you off the trails for a long time,” Vargas said.
It can’t be said any better than that. Good backpacking, hiking shoes should be the best you can afford. I do all of my shopping at my REI store in this area. You really need to hold em, feel em and try them on before you but em. You just don’t want to be out on a rocky hilly trail with grumpy feet.
Let’s talk about about backpacking survival today. As I have mentioned previously I have been a backpacker since 1950 when I backpacked with the Boy Scouts. Once a month our ( forgot what the small group was called) group of say 8 – 10 boys under the leadership of the oldest Boy Scout would go off for a day in the woods. There we would prepare camp and cook our food. It was also a chance to earn certain merit badges that could not be earned at home.
Survival Problem: The other groups of scouts who happened to be in the area. This involved throwing rocks, stones and sticks at one another across the creek we were camped along.
In the years 1955 – 58 I had an opportunity to fly and transport airplanes in the Fairbanks Alaska area. Along with not so busy work time I found a lot of time to explore new areas. Large areas on the flight maps were outlined in yellow. There was no visible information on the map inside these areas. They were marked “unsurveyed area”. Still, at 18 -19 it didn’t stop us guys from flying in and over these areas. I got close to the gold miners and even walked under their wooden constructed aqueducts that carried water to the sluice area.
I laid at night in a tent and heard the wolves howling. Bathed in rivers with Brown or Grizzley up the creek fishing with their mates and cubs. Did the ski flying and slept under many an airplane wing in a remote area.
SURVIVAL PROBLEM: After 3 airplane forced landings – staying alive until help arrived. This problem was caused by my ill planning and not reacting in the proper manner.
Since 1960 all of my backpacking has taken place in the Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania , Virginia and West Virginia Area. I have backpacked these areas uneventfully except for one time. A stranger walked into my camp where I was camped alone. He had no camping gear on. In fact on a very cold night he was only wearing a t shirt and a baseball jacket. We talked for about a half an hour, mostly him, and he walked off into the darkness. I just knew as I slipped into my sleeping bag that the “Mad Knifer” was coming back to do me in. I slept well and the morning sun woke me.
I am trying to communicate to anyone that would like to backpack that it is a pretty safe sport. Despite the news of wild animals attacking hikers I have never had a problem with wild animals. I found if you are alert and give them the respect they deserve in their environment, they will pretty much leave you alone.
In adapting to solo backpacking early in life I learned some important life skills. Just knowing I can make it on my own for short periods of time when all around me folks can’t get in a half a day without TV, cell phone or fast food.
I don’t encourage anyone to Solo Backpack from the beginning. But, there are numerous Hiking Clubs that you can join and learn with other the great sport of backpacking.
Your survival is pretty much dependent on your planning and your behaviour.
Choosing a proper cold weather sleeping bag can make or break a successful backpacking trip. As I mentioned I try to check the weather forecasts for the area I plan to backpack right up until the night before I leave. thirty (+30) degrees fahrenheit is about the lowest I choose to be out overnight in a tent.
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The reason I choose the thirty degree mark is once you start going lower than that you up the cost of equipment and the amount of weight you will need to carry.
I choose not to carry any supplemental heaters. Catalytic heaters and such just add weight you need to lug around all day. My sleeping bag is a costly bag. Sleeping bags are available today in the discount stores, but be careful. Whether it is a sporting goods store or the box store a lot of learning has to be done on that label.
I have had friends who bought a $39.00 sleeping bag rated at zero degrees and they have half frozen to death all night at an outside temperature fo +40F. I don’t know who does the rating , but it can’t be a real person in real conditions.
Most of the cheap sleeping bags are filled with a fiber fill material sometimes referred to hollow fiber. These may be more adaptive to camping down on the farm in the good old summertime, but lack the ability to keep you warm on cold nights out on the trail. They also are short lived and do not keep their shape well. So, you could end up with all of the filler at your feet or lumped up all over the place. Common Trade Names are Hollofil, Micro-loft and Polarguard.
I recommend the natural feather fill. Goose or duck down, preferably Goose. These sleeping bags are generally better constructed as well as being filled with one of the best insulators know to man. They are lightweight, very compact when compressed, quickly expand and will keep you well insulated even when wet. Comperession and expansion are very important when you are squeezing your bed down to size for carrying on your back all day.
The shape of the Sleeping Bag is a personal thing. I keep two. One is a “Mummy Bag” and it’s name describes it’s shape. If it will be cold I prefer this bag because it is easier to heat up (body heat) and keep warm due to its smaller internal size. The larger full bag I use when things start to warm a bit and I might just want to sprawl some. The shape is up to you.
Another point to look for when purchasing a sleeeping bag is a zip collar or hood. These will help you to further conserve heat in the sleeping bag by not allowing body heat to vent out around your head or neck. And, get used to wearing a nightcap it really helps with heat loss.
Sleeping Bags come in different configurations for men and women. Different colors and different outer coverings in many different colors.
But the main thing to consider when looking for a sleeping bag is the fill material. Get that right and all the other stuff doesn’t really matter.
Hope this helps,
Backpacking preparation evolves over time into a very personal choice. Here are a few highlights of where you can begin to sort an prepare for your next backpacking hike.
Camping is a pretty unique experience. You get to spend time away from the hustle of city life. Do you want to see a spectacular sight? Then sit or lie down under a night sky full of brilliant stars, they seem close enough to reach out and touch them.
Whether you are planning a long or short getaway, you never know what you are going to run into or what you may need. Let me give you some tricks and tips to planning and packing for a trip into the wilderness.
A. First you need to pick an area in your house and put all of your equipment in that area prior to packing. Try to start this process a few days in advance. This way you won’t forget something of major importance.
B. Take a good look at your equipment pile and when you think you have everything laid out, spend some time going over your camping list of things you want to bring and double check it.
C. When you are done packing your equipment, the next step should be getting your clothing together. Your clothes should be layered to compensate for changing temperatures and rain. Always bring spare clothing; you should always be prepared for the unexpected. Try to stay away from cotton as it dries slowly and offers little to no insulation when it gets wet.
D. Test all of your equipment before you head out. Be sure you know how your camp stove works and bring plenty of fuel. Do you lanterns work, is your tent complete?
E. Bring along several nylon bags to store your gear, and don’t forget the water purification tablets and a water bladder in case you are not near a reliable source of drinking source.
F. Plan your meals ahead of time. You want to be sure you have enough food.
All of the above mentioned items are useful; some are luxuries while others are necessities.
As I go along I will sort out the needs and the wants.
A good source of gear and equipment is