Getting lost in the wilderness is reminiscent of fairytale characters like Snow White who didn’t bother to check where she was going and Red Riding Hood who didn’t go straight to her Grandmother’s house as she’d been told.
While backpacking is all about exploring and enjoying the beauty of nature, you don’t want to get lost or venture into the unknown while hiking. Are you a backpacking beginner? Take a look at what experienced adventure travelers like Ryan Kannett suggest, including these five most important tips for first timers.
1. Pair Up with an Expert
Being stubborn and insisting on going alone is not acceptable, especially if you have absolutely zero ideas on what to do. For safety reasons, the first few trips should be with someone who has a vast knowledge of the trails and the backcountry. When you have acquired all the knowledge and skills, look for a hiking partner you’re most comfortable with, like your spouse or best friend, and enjoy the experience with a loved one.
2. Pack the Essentials
Don’t be a pack rat and bring everything you think you need. Consider what kind of trip and how long you’ll be gone before going on a gear buying spree. Pack only the essentials”carrying a bag that weighs almost 50 pounds is hard work. Consider buying clothes and equipment at specialty shops, as they can recommend the best items for your budget and needs.
3. Inform Friends and Family
Keep in mind that you’re not a superhero in disguise. Informing a family member or a friend before you leave is mandatory. Make sure that you let them know where you’re going, and the duration of your hiking trip.
If you’re traveling with a group and someone is staying behind while you trek all over, inform him or her about your itinerary. Just in case you don’t return on the day you were supposed to, your emergency contact can inform the rangers.
4. Practice before Leaving
Most beginners do not bother breaking in their new shoes. You don’t want to spend all your time limping from one place to another just because your new trail shoes tore through your tender feet on the first day. The same goes for all other equipment. For instance, you should learn how to pitch your tent properly.
5. Keep Calm
What happens if you look around and discover you’re lost? Hard as it may be, try not to panic. You’ll need a clear head if you’re to get your bearings.
Experts relate that the best thing to do when you are lost is to S.T.O.P, that’s an acronym for stop, think, observe and plan. Panicking will only cloud your judgment. Stop for a moment to think about the last spot that remember being. Retrace your steps and, if you still don’t know how to proceed from that location, stay where you are. Helpers can find you more easily if you don’t stray too far from the original trail.
The Bottom Line
Backpacking shouldn’t be taken lightly if you’re just a beginner. Plenty of dangers lurk, especially if you’re not familiar with the trails and lack basic survival skills. Keep in mind that safety should always come first. When you do that, you’ll enjoy the heady pleasures of backpacking in the backcountry. Have fun and stay safe!
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