You’re at Styx River RV Park. Time for a hike!
It’s not complicated, but what if you take a wrong turn off the trail and your quick jaunt turns into a day’s adventure? The shoes you picked up last night seemed so friendly then, but they hate you now. Surely you were headed west, but now the tree canopy is blocking the sun and you can’t tell which end is up or whether you’re still in the same state as your campground. And you’re seriously thirsty.
Be prepared before you take a step. Good trail shoes or boots with decent traction are a must. Wear them around to break them in before your hike.
Check the forecast and pack any necessary extras like a hat or poncho. Be sure your backpack fits your shoulders well and doesn’t leave you winded ten steps out of camp. It should be sturdy enough that the bottom won’t rip out when you set it down – test those zippers – but not so heavy that you feel like an Army Ranger on a forced march. And while you can toss it over one shoulder for that jaunty photo op, it’s designed to spread the weight evenly over your back and shoulders if worn properly on both shoulders.
Sunscreen and bug spray applied – check (if you burn easily or have insect allergies, consider extra single-use packets). Sunglasses – check. If you’re hiking through high grass, wear socks and pants (not shorts) that cover your legs and ankles. Water bottle or canteen – check and double-check! Energy bars or trail mix – check.
A map of the area is great. A compass is a definite to avoid getting turned around. If you have a smart phone, it may have a compass app, as well as a camera to get those memorable shots. Not to mention it’s a great communication tool in the event of emergency, because it’s – you know – a phone. Only if it’s charged, of course, so be sure to do that ahead of time.
Emergency supplies become more important the longer you plan to hike. A whistle, a first aid kit and life straws (cylindrical water filters that allow you to drink any water source in an emergency) are great ideas. All these items are small and lightweight but can be critical in a danger situation.
The most important emergency supply is a hiking buddy. If at all possible, don’t hike alone. Besides, who’s going to take that jaunty backpack photo of you?
For more detailed info about hiking prep, check out here.