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Tips 101 - Hiking, mountain climbing, and surviving in the great out doors

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  • Tips 101 - Hiking, mountain climbing, and surviving in the great out doors

    Tips 101 - Hiking, mountain climbing, and surviving in the great out doors

    I hiked a lot while in the military. As a small unit we would go 2-7 days at a time, hiking areas that included deserts, mountains, sea shores, and forested areas to become experienced in surviving, in all the areas we were expected to conduct combat operations in. From the 21 years of experience, I have a few tips for anyone starting out. Here is just a few of the many hints I will post next year:

    1. Hike at a Consistent Pace.

    Sounds easy, but hikers waste a lot of energy by starting too fast. Start slow, 1-2 mph (should feel easy), and then settle into a day-long, sustainable pace (2-3 mph for most hikers). Whether you’re going 10 miles or 30, Aim to finish the day at the same pace you’ve been maintaining.”

    Two tips to stay in the zone:

    A) Take short breaks (10 minutes max)
    B) Eat often breaking for snacks and meals.

    2. Adjust your pack often:
    There is no “perfect setting” for an entire trip. Every couple hours or so, make small tweaks to your pack’s harness, hip-belt, shoulder, and stabilizer straps. Alternate the load between your shoulders and hips.

    3. Mix up your hiking stride:
    On flat, well-maintained trails, using the same muscles in exactly the same way—hour after hour, day after day—is a recipe for injury. Try taking shorter and longer strides; get up on your toes, and then back on your heels.

    4. Eat well: On long treks (think weeks, not days), you need a steady supply of fuel. You should consume 4,500 to 5,000 calories per day on the trail. Even after weeks of 30-mile- plus hiking days, you will stay within 2 to 3 pounds of your normal weight. I was taught that; “A hiker losing a huge amount of weight is a hiker who will soon be off the trail,”

    Snack: trail mix—with M&M’s, yogurt-coated raisins, or peanut butter-filled pretzels.

    5. Carry less water: This is a judgment call—you never want to get dehydrated—but savvy hikers try to avoid carrying more water (8 pounds per gallon!) than you absolutely need. In dry terrain, where refill opportunities are far apart, drink at least a liter of water at the source before leaving, then carry that much less. Of course, always err on the side of
    caution if you’re unsure of the next source.

    6. Choose campsites wisely:
    To boost warmth on cold nights. Avoid camping in valley floors, where cool air collects. Look for sheltered spots under trees, which means less dew.

    7. Your Feet:

    Choose the right socks. Shoes are important, but so are socks. “The idea that you need thick, padded socks is one of the biggest myths in backpacking. Not only can you save several ounces per pair by switching to thinner models, but
    with the right socks, you’ll also spare yourself heat- accelerated blisters. Be aware that your feet may swell on hikes—growing as much as two sizes. But most hikers stop with buying larger shoes. “Get socks that fit, too.”

    Keep your feet clean. I maintain a three-step routine:

    A) Air feet out at least once a day.
    B) Wash them every evening (sponge with a bandana even in a dry camp).
    C) Wash dirty socks.
    “A pair of socks is always hanging from my pack. I look like a walking clothesline, In the southwest U.S., I wash a pair
    every day or two because of the extra dirt and grime. In Appalachian Trail conditions, it’s normally every three days.” I usually carries two pairs, but adds a warmer mid-weight pair for really cold weather.

    8. Stretch every day:
    Avoid tight, sore muscles. During each break do some light stretching; add 10 minutes of more comprehensive stretching at the end of each day. work your calves, hamstrings, groin, quads, and gluts. “Think of it as an
    investment in your health,” I say .

    9. Use a sleeping mat: No more than three-quarter body length. Sleep with your feet resting on top of your pack. “When your feet are elevated, there’s the added benefit of reducing swelling in your lower extremities,”

    10. Ditch the sleeping bag stuff sack:
    Use your sleeping bag as the ultimate pack filler. “Instead of cramming your bag in a stuff sack placed at the bottom of your backpack, use it as a filler for the outer sections of the pack.” Pack your heavy items first, exactly where you want them (near your back), and then stuff the sleeping bag around them. This secures the weight in the mid and upper regions of the pack.

    Benefits: “Packing this way helps maintain the bag’s loft long term, and it keeps the pack’s center of gravity near your back.” When it’s really hot, you know to dip your shirt and hat in water, which greatly enhances evaporation. When water sources are scarce: “Soak an extra shirt and place it in a zip-top bag; stash it in your pack to put on later.”

    11. Downsize your first-aid kit:
    My 5-ounce kit: antiseptic wipes (3), 3M surgical tape (roll), ibuprofen (8 tabs), 4-by-4 inch piece of gauze, IDF Battle Dressing, sewing needle, and dental floss. I uses this for all trips, and replaces supplies as needed.

    12. Pack gear that serves double—or triple—duty. (Multitasking)
    For cat-holes, ditching, any digging, I insist on a using a Pack shovel.
    A pot that serves as a bowl, cup, and washing vessel
    Socks double as mittens
    A 10'x12'-16' tarp. “It’s my shelter, pack cover, and rain protection.”

    13. Have rain protection: I use a military poncho at 1.5 lbs best rain cover there is.

    14. Cooking:
    I go stove less by using local resources to build a fire pit each night. It helps with cooking meals, boiling water, and security from wild animals.

    This is just the start. 2015 should be a great year for prepping. I will break down various subjects including:

    3 day Back Pack, 7 day Back Pack, Additional Group Hiking requirements, multi-week hiking and camping trips, Use of pack horses and mules.

  • #2
    Excellent tips Rich. Thanks for the post
    The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.


    • #3
      Here is a few general tips while hiking in hill/mountain country.

      Never hike at the extreme top of hills and mountains because that is where lighting strikes first.

      Never get under a tall tree during bad weather. It is a sure way to learn about lighting up close and personal!

      Always watch the clouds, they will tell you what the weather will be like over the next few hours.

      The weather in the mountains can change within 30 minutes from 68 degrees and sunny to ice rain or snow. "Seen it, been there".

      If you find a great place to stop (i.e., shelter, fresh water) and it is in the mid afternoon. STOP make camp. you always have things to repair, maintain, and a good hearty meal is a great way to end the day.

      National Forest Marked trails - follow the trails as posted. People who wonder off are normally the ones who are beginners, or who reach out well beyond their capabilities.


      • #4
        Excellent thread. Thanks for sharing.


        • #5
          I started a new thread that continues this subject CALLED:

          Scenario Number 63 Mountain Hiking Accident.


          • #6
            Awesome tips! Thank you so much for sharing this!


            • #7
              Great info for my oldest granddaughter. She and her husband love to go hiking. Right now they only do short hiking trips as their jobs take a lot of their time.


              • #8
                Even taking a two night hike can work out some of the problems with your bug out bags....

                Fourteen years ago we took horses and pack mules along the sierra -Nevada trail for 2 weeks. What a vacation that was. I gave my whole family experience working with horses and mules experience which is hard to find any more!!!


                • #9
                  Rich I bet that was a lot of fun. You don't hear of anyone taking horses and pack miles around here anymore.


                  • #10
                    For two summers i worked my uncles ranch in AZ. during roundup so for 1-2 months we were in the saddle. Herding cattle to market, tagging (Nasty stuff) calves, and just getting a general count. That is where I learned (The hard way) of how to handle mules and horses.


                    • #11
                      Rich - Agree and follow almost every point you made here.
                      I almost always use a stove and not a fire in normal recreational settings. I have however had to use a fire a few times when out in rainy conditions for days on end. But if you aren't in high use wilderness areas using a fire is great practice and lets be honest adds greatly to the experience of being outdoors. Definitely agree with your foot care routine and I usually use two pairs of light socks at a time, bring four pairs and wash two per day. Thanks for the post.