Planning an Overnight Hike

FIRST STEP

The first steps are always the obvious and planning a hike is no exception. The first thing you want to do is decide where you want to go, how much time you have to do it, and what kind of shape you are in. Don’t over estimate your physical capacity or you will regret it on the trail. If you have been sitting around the office all year rolling around in your chair you probably aren’t ready for that hike up Denali.

After you get the basics out of the way, then you can start planning your trip. The first thing you’re going to want to do is get a map so you can plan out your route. You can find maps from the local park, clubs who work on the trail, and other online venues such as www.trails.com.

Once you have your map in hand you can start to map out your time. When looking at your map and planning mileage and campsites don’t forget to take the terrain into consideration. Plan more time to hike up hills or go through switch backs. You will also be walking faster in flat land or through open fields. If you want you can also plan where you want to camp each night. Some people like to just setup camp when it feels right.

THE LOGISTICS

Once you decide where you are going to hike there are something you will want to do. First you will want to contact the park or club that manages the trail to find out if there are any special permits required. Most state parks require that you check in first. This is to limit the number of people in the backcountry and to keep tabs on people should the go missing. You will also want to find out any details about the trail conditions. What is the snow like this time of year? Is the area prone to flash floods? Get as much information as you can
from these sources. It will help you in the long run.

After you get as much information as pssible from the park ranger and other sources you can start making your gear list. What you pack will b determined by where you hike and what time of the year you do it. If you become an avid hiker a good idea is to keep your gear lists from every hike. This way you can cross off things that you didn’t need, add things you wanted, and make notes about what the weather was like so you can pack better on your next trip.

PACKING

What you take hiking is up to you and where you hike. But no matter where you go there are always the basics. Here is a list of some basic items to help get you started.

  • Backpack
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Ground cloth
  • 2 water bottles
  • Water filter
  • Stove and fuel
  • Matches
  • Kitchen kit
  • Spoon and knife
  • Compass
  • Maps and guide books
  • Chapstick
  • Flashlight
  • Pack cover
  • Toiletries

These are
only a basic list of must have items for any hike. What clothes you wear and
how many you bring is decided on your climate, how long you will be gone, and
how much you feel like carrying.

After you
get your gear list made up you will want to talk to your hiking partner about
sharing gear. Things like pots, tent, fuel, food, and other group gear can be
divided between hikers to even out the loads. You both don’t need a water
filter or stove so double check your gear and see what you can get rid of.

When going
through your gear with your buddy you should also take a minute to look over
your gear. Make sure it is in working condition and has all the pieces. You
don’t want to get on the trail and discover you flash light blew a bulb or that
you left the stove hose at home.

FOOD

After you
have you gear checked and ready to go you will need to plan out your food for
along the trail. Usually you will want something quick to eat in the morning, a
snack at lunch, and a larger meal at night. These items can be taken out of
there original packaging and put into zip-lock bags so that they take up less
space.

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