Hiking and backpacking tips an ordinary Joe or Jane can love-and CAN believe!
Often, when you read about tips and tricks for backpacking and hiking, the tipper has an outdoor resume that makes you wonder why they are not on their cable TV “I survived this” show. It seems like they have been a guide for twenty years in the Tetons, or lived three consecutive winters in Alaska, or at least founded a graduate level program in Backcountry Studies at the University of Way Off Yonder.
Well, I plead not guilty. Yes, I have hiked and backpacked and car camped most of my life, either with my father, scout troop, wife and kids, or sometimes all by my lonesome. But I have never hiked or guided professionally, and I have always come out of the forest after wandering around for anywhere from a few hours to several days. No spending the winter in a remote lean-to while shooting my own meat. I suspect that in those things, I have more in common with most wanderers than folks who go by the name of “Bear”.
But in the few hundred nights I have accumulated on the ground and in a sleeping bag, I have learned a few things that might come in handy, and I humbly present them in the hopes that they might help you, especially if you a beginner or feel a little unsure.
-Nothing says you have to cook. Most trips, I do take along a compact one burner stove, but more and more, my meals and my trail food merge. Unless you are snow camping, calories are calories, and especially on an overnight, the few ounces you take by taking snack food is more than balanced out by leaving behind your stove and fuel. Not to mention that instead of fixing dinner, you can spend more time walking and contemplating the universe. Or your navel, if you prefer.
-Take whatever you want, but understand that you have to carry it. Seems obvious, but often, as we pare down our packs to the last ounce, we forget that we are out here to enjoy ourselves, not wear a hair shirt. So while my pack for an overnight is often less than ten pounds, I always pack a pillow. And I don’t mean my wadded up jacket, I mean a small poly-filled pillow. My daughter won’t spend the night on the ground without a thick, cushy pad, and at least two books. They weigh an extra pound or so, but for her, the good night’s sleep and reading for an hour in her bag are worth the price.
-There is a reason they are called the ten ESSENTIALS. I won’t go over them here, but it’s easy to look them up. Do what you can to save ounces, but always carry them. All of them. On every hike. Period. Most hikes I have not really needed any or many of them, but a couple of times, having all ten has saved my bacon. Except for food and water, I keep all of them together in one sack, which is the first one I pack.
-Think and plan ahead for your water. You can always carry a gallon, but that’s just a shortcut to a sore back. Unless I’m heading into dry country where I can’t count on finding any water, I always plan my rest stops around water. Whether you filter or treat (that’s me), if you stop by water, when you drink the last of your supply, you can easily treat the next liter. By the time you stop again, the water is safe to drink. If you find yourself out, stop at the next source and tank up. Never find yourself on a warm day on the trail with an empty bottle.
-On sunny warm days at least, become a swamp cooler. Whenever you encounter water, dip your hat and/or bandanna. The combination of a damp hat with a bandanna tucked underneath and draped over your neck a la the Foreign Legion will keep you cool and comfy for quite a distance down the trail.
-If there really, truly is zero chance of rain, what in the world are you doing taking a tent?
-It’s supposed to be FUN! If you’re not having fun, slow down, take a gander at the next meadow, take a load off, take a nap, take some pictures. Or take that cross country route over the high pass. Just be sure you are enjoying yourself.
source: by Lorin John
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