I consider myself an experienced hiker and outdoorsy in general. I did not take a class, nor did I hire someone to train me. I read books on wilderness survival and learned the good old-fashioned way of trial and error. I also possess first aid training, and I don’t mean ‘how to put on a band aid’ training, I mean one test away from paramedic training. I come from a long line of rugged people. My grandfather once struck himself in the shin with an axe while chopping up firewood when he was camping with my dad in the middle of nowhere. This was way before the advent of cellular phones. So, he did what any right-minded individual would do. He told his son to sit tight, and he walked himself out of the forest and to the nearest hospital. See? Rugged.
Devon, in her own right, is über-outdoorsy. She was raised on a tiny island on the Sunshine Coast, with only forty year-round residents. As a child, she regularly used a machete to clear overgrown grass and build forts in the forest on the private land she called home. Let me say that again… a machete. Not a Swiss Army knife. She continued this trend as she grew up and became well-rounded in her wilderness survival abilities. She is a rock climber, and a ticketed instructor. She is also a scuba diver and can operate any watercraft.
So, when we read about individuals going on hikes into remote areas, ill-prepared and under trained, we both cringe, then shake our heads. I, for one, am first struck with frustration, then eventually, anger. Didn’t the Boy Scouts teach you anything?? Be prepared! Even the most novice hikers know there are certain things one must bring with them. There is a simple checklist you should go over before departing into the wild. I have a rule when it comes to hiking. Take the amount of time suggested for the trail or hike and double it, then, double your rations accordingly. If you are going on an hour long hike, assume it will actually be two hours, and bring two hours worth of water, etc., per person. Minimum. I cannot stress this enough. This is common sense to me. There are far too many variables to consider when hiking.
It boggles the mind, thinking someone like John Q. Average taking a “little” hike in Canyonlands National Park because they want to see for themselves where 127 Hours was filmed. I recently read an article about a fifty-something gentleman going on a hike to find the location, only to fall and break his leg in several places. He was stuck in the slot canyon for four days with very little food and water. If an expert mountaineer like Aron Ralston had as much trouble in Bluejohn Canyon as he did, what makes you think you’ll be okay? Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I trying to deter you. Far from it. I wish more people got out and hiked. I simply want you to be better prepared. Devon & I plan on visiting Bluejohn Canyon ourselves next year, and we will be ready for it.
When it comes to hiking and canyoneering, you can never have too much water, and never be too prepared. Never assume anything in the desert is an easy hike.
This is the type of checklist we go over before hiking.
– water (a minimum of 3L per person)
– Camelbak (canteens)
– food (snacks such as granola bars)
– a multitool (Leatherman)
– climbing rope (harness, carabiners & the like)
– map (a physical map of the area)
– bear spray (effective for mountain lions)
And most importantly, TELL somebody where you will be hiking. Let them know of the area and the possible time you will be there. You cannot get rescued if no one knows where you are!
Now go play outside. Tag, you’re it.