Maps–Don’t hike without one

Map reading necessary in Rocky Mountains on Continental Divide Trail

Continental Divide Trail

Remember that hiker who was injured and lost in the Oregon woods? She had broken her leg and spent three days and nights alone. The available details were posted here on August 9th. Turns out that the injured girl and her boyfriend had become separated for a different reason (a spat), which explains how she really got lost—not by merely looking for a better place to set up a tent. See the follow-up article here.

Note what she says about maps. “My biggest mistake was failing to review maps of the area with my boyfriend before the trip.”

Besides proper clothing, water, and nourishment, you should always bring a map, or some type of field guide, when you hike. Have a map of where you will start, where you intend to go, and where you will finish. I keep my maps ready to see and protected in a transparent zip-loc bag. If I plan to follow a particular trail, I hi-lite it in yellow ahead of time. And when I invite my friends to hike, I provide extra maps, should we become separated.

Here’s another idea to avoid getting lost by Tom Mangan, who writes the hiking blog Two-Heel Drive. The ubiquitous digital camera can save the day.  “If the trailhead has a map of the general area you’re hiking . . . just take a picture of the map, then use your camera’s playback function and zoom into the area where you are hiking.” There are other excellent ideas on how to avoid getting lost in his post.

Easy for me to say, but work together when you hike with others. Arguments and disputes can happen, but if you are out in the wilds, try to suck it up and join forces, so you don’t get in a jam. In any event, bring maps. You wouldn’t want to hike in areas shown in the pictures without maps.

Hikers, backpackers must use maps on long-distance trails

CDT-New Mexico

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Maps–Don’t hike without one

restofsavedDellphotos10May11031

PCT

A few years ago a hiker who was injured and lost in the Oregon woods. She had broken her leg and spent three days and nights alone. The available details were posted here on this blog. Turned out that the injured girl and her boyfriend had become separated for a different reason (a spat), which explains how she really got lost—not by merely looking for a better place to set up a tent. See the follow-up article here.

Note what she says about maps. “My biggest mistake was failing to review maps of the area with my boyfriend before the trip.”

Besides proper clothing, water, and nourishment, you should always bring a map, or some type of field guide, when you hike. Have a map of where you will start, where you intend to go, and where you will finish. I keep my maps ready to see and protected in a transparent zip-loc bag. If I plan to follow a particular trail, I hi-lite it in yellow ahead of time. And when I invite my friends to hike, I provide extra maps, should we become separated.

Here’s another idea to avoid getting lost by Tom Mangan, who writes the hiking blog Two-Heel Drive. The ubiquitous digital camera can save the day.  “If the trailhead has a map of the general area you’re hiking . . . just take a picture of the map, then use your camera’s playback function and zoom into the area where you are hiking.” There are other excellent ideas on how to avoid getting lost in his post.

Easy for me to say, but work together when you hike with others. Arguments and disputes can happen, but if you are out in the wilds, try to suck it up and join forces, so you don’t get in a jam. In any event, bring maps. You wouldn’t want to hike in areas shown in the pictures without maps.

desert1

CDT-New Mexico

 

 

 

 

Prepare Now for a 2016 A.T. Thru-hike

 

 

Begininning of Appalachian Trail--Georgia

Appalachian Trail–Georgia

A.T. Thru-hike civil war

Heading north on the Appalachian Trail

If you are thinking of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail next year, you should begin your preparations now.

What’s the rush? Perhaps if you’re very young you can wing it, but if you want to finish the A.T. in one go, now is the time to start your physical training, study the literature, and lay down some plans.

The trick is to build your endurance slowly. Don’t try to do too much, too soon, too fast. Start with short hikes nearby and carry a small light backpack. Enjoy your surroundings. Relax.

In winter months trek in snow-shoes or use a treadmill. Going up and down stairs, especially at school stadiums helps, but nothing beats getting out in the woods to hike on natural terrain. Join a hiking group like the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) or a similar hiking group in your area. The AMC has conditioning hikes throughout the year and holds meetings where winter hiking, first aid, and other issues are discussed. You might find a hiking partner to train with.

Follow current A.T. hikers at www.Trailjournals.com and read from past journals those hikers in your age group who finished the trek. Study published books about the A.T. so you can decide on equipment needs, food, how to get supplied while on the trail, etc. One of the best books for this purpose is Michelle Ray’s, How to Hike the A.T. Do what you can to make yourself ready for a challenging thru-hike, and it will all come together for you.

All the pictures are from the A.T.

Hiking the A.T.

Mt. Katahdin-Maine

Hiking Tip–How to avoid blisters

Pacific Crest Trail logo

Pacific Crest Trail logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Blister on foot three days after trea...

English: Blister on foot three days after treatment with tincture of benzoin. It does not and never did hurt (with a bandage, this person walked miles (0 km) that day). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hiking without blisters

Most long-distance hikers, at some point, will get blisters on their feet. The usual precautions are: break in new footwear, start slowly and build up to bigger mileage, wear a liner sock, or don’t wear a liner sock, keep band-aids and bandages handy. All well and good; do whatever works. But if you really want to head off blister problems, practice the tip below.

Tip: Air out your feet. Yep, that’s the best advice I was ever given on avoiding blisters, and I learned it at a seminar in New Hampshire that prepared AT thru-hikers. The advice has served me well. In the photo above, I’m at Kearsarge Pass in the Sierras on the Pacific Crest Trail. My boots and socks are airing out; my feet are absorbing air and sunlight. After break, I will put what was my left sock on my right foot and reverse the process during my next break. I will also wear my socks inside out after the first break and reverse this several times a day.

This may seem like overkill, but I’ve never gotten a raw blister on my feet. Bacteria thrive in moist, stinky, air-deprived spots. And these are the spots that chafe and turn into blisters. The trick is to air out your feet, and keep your socks dry. I probably carry too many socks, but I change out of wet socks, hang the wet ones on my pack straps, and put on new socks. Like you, I hate blisters.

Hiking Tip–Physical preparation

Preparing for a thru-hike of a long-distance trail

How does one physically prepare for an extended hike? Most people, if they are heavy, will attempt to drop weight and work out. Many in decent shape will do more running, or jump on a treadmill. All of this is good, but there is something else you need to do.

Take a look at the pictures. In the one with the blaze on the tree, that is the actual trail to the left of the blaze. This is a particularly rocky section of the AT in Pennsylvania. No matter how many times you jog around the high school track, your legs and feet are not prepared for this. Nor roots. Roots are everywhere and anywhere–even on rocks like shown above. Tip: Start backpacking in fields, forests, and parklands near you, and build up to shakedown hikes over diverse terrain.

This way your legs and body adapt to field conditions. Although I haven’t done it, I think climbing up and down stairs in a stadium, with your backpack, will help you if you live in the city. Best of all, build yourself up to a full backpack with all attachments (tent, sleeping pad, etc.) and get outside and go. Don’t do too much, too soon, too fast; build yourself up.

Hiking Tip–Physical preparation

Preparing for a thru-hike of a long-distance trail

It’s not too soon to get in shape for a Spring thru-hike. So start now, during the holiday season.

How does one physically prepare for an extended hike? Most people, if they are heavy, will attempt to drop weight and work out. Many in decent shape will do more running, or jump on a treadmill. All of this is good, but there is something else you need to do.

Take a look at the pictures. In the one with the blaze on the tree, that is the actual trail to the left of the blaze. This is a particularly rocky section of the AT in Pennsylvania. No matter how many times you jog around the high school track, your legs and feet are not prepared for this. Nor roots. Roots are everywhere and anywhere–even on rocks like shown above. Tip: Start backpacking in fields, forests, and parklands near you, and build up to shakedown hikes over diverse terrain.

This way your legs and body adapt to field conditions. Although I haven’t done it, I think climbing up and down stairs in a stadium, with your backpack, will help you if you live in the city. Best of all, build yourself up to a full backpack with all attachments (tent, sleeping pad, etc.) and get outside and go. Don’t do too much, too soon, too fast; build yourself up.

Sign for the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania...

Sign for the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania where the trail cross PA Route 233 in Franklin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maps–Don’t hike without one

English: The Franconia Ridge, a section of the...

Map reading necessary in Rocky Mountains on Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail

Remember that hiker last year who was injured and lost in the Oregon woods? She had broken her leg and spent three days and nights alone. The available details were posted here on August 9, 2011. Turns out that the injured girl and her boyfriend had become separated for a different reason (a spat), which explains how she really got lost—not by merely looking for a better place to set up a tent. See the follow-up article here.

Note what she says about maps. “My biggest mistake was failing to review maps of the area with my boyfriend before the trip.”

Besides proper clothing, water, and nourishment, you should always bring a map, or some type of field guide, when you hike. Have a map of where you will start, where you intend to go, and where you will finish. I keep my maps ready to see and protected in a transparent zip-loc bag. If I plan to follow a particular trail, I hi-lite it in yellow ahead of time. And when I invite my friends to hike, I provide extra maps, should we become separated.

Here’s another idea to avoid getting lost by Tom Mangan, who writes the hiking blog Two-Heel Drive. The ubiquitous digital camera can save the day.  “If the trailhead has a map of the general area you’re hiking . . . just take a picture of the map, then use your camera’s playback function and zoom into the area where you are hiking.” There are other excellent ideas on how to avoid getting lost in his post.

Easy for me to say, but work together when you hike with others. Arguments and disputes can happen, but if you are out in the wilds, try to suck it up and join forces, so you don’t get in a jam. In any event, bring maps. You wouldn’t want to hike in areas shown in the pictures without maps.

Hikers, backpackers must use maps on long-distance trails

CDT-New Mexico

Hiking Tip–Physical preparation

Preparing for a thru-hike of a long-distance trail

How does one physically prepare for an extended hike? Most people, if they are heavy, will attempt to drop weight and work out. Many in decent shape will do more running, or jump on a treadmill. All of this is good, but there is something else you need to do.

Take a look at the pictures. In the one with the blaze on the tree, that is the actual trail to the left of the blaze. This is a particularly rocky section of the AT in Pennsylvania. No matter how many times you jog around the high school track, your legs and feet are not prepared for this. Nor roots. Roots are everywhere and anywhere–even on rocks like shown above. Tip: Start backpacking in fields, forests, and parklands near you, and build up to shakedown hikes over diverse terrain.

This way your legs and body adapt to field conditions. Although I haven’t done it, I think climbing up and down stairs in a stadium, with your backpack, will help you if you live in the city. Best of all, build yourself up to a full backpack with all attachments (tent, sleeping pad, etc.) and get outside and go. Don’t do too much, too soon, too fast; build yourself up.

5 Things to Prepare for a Thru-hike

The Franconia Ridge, a section of the Appalach...

Image via Wikipedia

If you are preparing for an Appalachian Trail thru-hike in the spring, you are only sixteen weeks away, or less. If you are serious about completing the A.T. by next fall, you would be wise to do these five things now.

1) Practice Moderation Over the Holidays. You are in training; don’t gain extra weight. If indulging yourself during the holiday season means that much to you, tell yourself you will indulge next year. Just think: If you wake up on January 2nd with ten extra pounds to lose, you are going to make it extra hard on yourself for a thru-hike.

2) Get That Pack Weight Down. If you may not need it, don’t bring it. You won’t need a GPS. Forget any fancy electronics–at least for now. Bring your journal, but not a novel. Once you’re out there, you own what’s in your pack; bring only the raw essentials. You can check emails somewhere in town. You will be too tired to read in those first few weeks. Tell yourself, “maybe later.” For now, shave every once.

3) Break in Trail Shoes Rather Than Boots. (Boots are Heavy) This item may raise controversy, but I stand by it. The idea complements number two above. If you can get your pack weight under twenty-five pounds (not including food and water), you will do fine in good trail shoes. Trail shoes, because they are lighter than boots, will make a huge difference in how much mileage you do and, more importantly, how tired you feel at the end of a day. Check with REI, EMS, and other outfitters.

 4) Do a Shakedown Hike With Overnights and Cooked Dinners. Don’t try to wing it on the trail; be ready. Now is the time to experiment, test your gear and equipment, and develop a routine. The idea is to make it easy on yourself once you hit the trail.

5) Read and Study From www.trailjournals.com   This is where you can examine the gear lists of successful thru-hikers. You read their accounts and absorb their experience. I can’t tell you how helpful this website has been for me on every long-distance hike I’ve done.

Stay focused during these next months. You are attempting something big, and your preparation will make a difference. Happy Veterans Day.

A hiker who has just completed the Appalachian...
Image via Wikipedia

Top photo is the A.T. (Franconia Ridge) in New Hampshire.

Maps–Don’t hike without one

Map reading necessary in Rocky Mountains on Continental Divide Trail

Continental Divide Trail

Remember that hiker who was injured and lost in the Oregon woods? She had broken her leg and spent three days and nights alone. The available details were posted here on August 9th. Turns out that the injured girl and her boyfriend had become separated for a different reason (a spat), which explains how she really got lost—not by merely looking for a better place to set up a tent. See the follow-up article here.

Note what she says about maps. “My biggest mistake was failing to review maps of the area with my boyfriend before the trip.”

Besides proper clothing, water, and nourishment, you should always bring a map, or some type of field guide, when you hike. Have a map of where you will start, where you intend to go, and where you will finish. I keep my maps ready to see and protected in a transparent zip-loc bag. If I plan to follow a particular trail, I hi-lite it in yellow ahead of time. And when I invite my friends to hike, I provide extra maps, should we become separated.

Here’s another idea to avoid getting lost by Tom Mangan, who writes the hiking blog Two-Heel Drive. The ubiquitous digital camera can save the day.  “If the trailhead has a map of the general area you’re hiking . . . just take a picture of the map, then use your camera’s playback function and zoom into the area where you are hiking.” There are other excellent ideas on how to avoid getting lost in his post.

Easy for me to say, but work together when you hike with others. Arguments and disputes can happen, but if you are out in the wilds, try to suck it up and join forces, so you don’t get in a jam. In any event, bring maps. You wouldn’t want to hike in areas shown in the pictures without maps.

Hikers, backpackers must use maps on long-distance trails

CDT-New Mexico