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Hiking and camping





Helios
Well, I consider hiking to be a really cool hobby and I'd like to bring this topic up.
If you're into this sort of thing, I'll be glad if you would share tips and experiences from recent hiking trips.
I know that there are some guys here with tons of experience and many many outdoor hours - so please share! Smile

In addition, what's your hiking style? Where do you usually hike? Do you have any tips for surviving in your area? Elaborate as much as possible please.
Feel free to mention your typical hiking gear as well, and whether you're carrying anything unusual with you.


I'll start:
I'm not an experienced hiker at all, but I have several dozen of trips behind me and I'll try sharing stuff I've learnt from my own experience and from others as well.
All I can say is that hiking is a pretty awesome way to spend your free time!

Usually I go out on short trips during the weekend, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends.
I'll list several things which I consider important to have with you on a trip. You may agree or disagree, of course.

Here we go:
1. Have an updated topographic map of the area and a satellite image (just in case) - it also helps searching for photographs of the trail on the internet. Get a good compass as well. Learn how to use the topographic map together with the compass. There are good tutorials available on youtube (by sargefaria) and on the internet in general. Just be as confident as possible about where you're going and where is the trail. Mark the trail on the map before going out together with interesting spots you'd like to "investigate" along the way.


2. Have knowledge about possible dangers: animals, plants, floods, avalanches. If you're not sure - don't reach for it and don't touch it.

3. Hydration - establish what we call here "water rules". To do that you need to know how much you drink during activity and how long will your hike be. For instance I know that I drink 1 litre per 2 hours of activity, so for a 9 hour hike I'll take 4 to 5 litres with me and drink in regular intervals (every hour, for example). If there are water sources in the area, bring a filtering kit with you - it pretty much saved the lives of my friends when they hiked on the Himalayas. They used chlorine-based tablets, but there are more options available today.


4. Clothing - bad clothing choice leads to trouble. Wearing several light layers rather than one heavy layer is better since it's more adjustable and versatile. If it's sunny out there, wear a hat or at least take one with you. Try to avoid wearing 100% cotton clothing in wet conditions since it will add quite a bit to the total amount of weight you're carrying... which leads me to the next point...


5. Weight - are you a mule or a rat? I strive to pack the lightest backpack I possibly can, but there are people who do the opposite. It all depends on what you can carry for many hours on your back. In any case, a good adjustable backpack is pretty much a must - feel free to throw your money away. Make sure you've packed your backpack fully before the trip, adjusted it, even walked around a bit with it.


6. Shoes - good hiking boots and socks are the solution for blisters and unwanted pain. When choosing shoes, pay attention to your heels - they must not slide, and to your toes - they mustn't reach the end of the boots. Most good outdoor shops will have a ramp for trying out hiking boots. Walk down that ramp and see if your toes reach the end of the boot.
Also keep in mind that waterproofing, including GoreTex, usually makes the shoe less breathable. This can be beneficial in some cases, but if you're going to step into ankle deep water or walk in heavy rain (when your feet will get wet even with waterproofing), maybe it will be a better choice to wear non waterproof shoes so that you'll be able to dry them faster.


7. Food - same as with water. According to the planned trail you should pretty much know how many stops you'd like to make along the way - so take enough food. Keep in mind that it should be lightweight, nutritious and, if possible, tasty since food also boosts up morale.
Take some basic cooking equipment like a pot, a spoon and a fire kit (flint, lighter, some kindling), if you're planning to light a fire. Also I usually consider a coffee kit to be essential to pretty much any trip, but some will disagree.


8. First Aid Kit - a must. There is a lot of material on the internet about various FAKs, but it also depends on where you're going. I have ankle problems so I take elastic socks and an elastic bandage with me, along with some pain relieving ointment. Don't follow the tutorials you'll find on the net blindly, you may need to take some extra/unusual stuff with you, according to your health condition.


9. Camera - yes, I do consider this to be an important piece of equipment since life is made of memories. I enjoy looking at photos from previous trips - always brings a smile to my face.


10. Tents, sleeping bags - it's possible to get away with cheap stuff here, very possible, but it really depends on the conditions out there. Sometimes I didn't even take a tent with me and slept under the sky, so to speak, since I knew that the weather will be good and that there aren't many critters around.


11. Other (probably) useful gear:
a good knife (SOG, Ontario, Ka-Bar, Cold Steel - nice brands),
a 550 cord,
a small saw (Sawvivor) if you're planning to have a healthy fire pit,
a good LED flash-light (I prefer headlamps),
trekking poles,
gaiters for snowy conditions,
extra batteries with a cellphone adapter,
an unbreakable mirror if your compass doesn't have it - for signalling mostly,
anti altitude sickness medication (if needed),
a good wrist watch (G-Shock and alike).
Surely there are more things, but that's all I can come up with right now.

Of course there are many more things one should take into consideration, and hopefully the community here will add more to the topic Smile

Be sure to check out ocalhoun's thread on gear: http://www.frihost.com/forums/vp-995675.html
Extremely useful information there.
ocalhoun
Helios wrote:
Well, I consider hiking to be a really cool hobby and I'd like to bring this topic up.
If you're into this sort of thing, I'll be glad if you would share tips and experiences from recent hiking trips.
I know that there are some guys here with tons of experience and many many outdoor hours - so please share! Smile

Am I safe to assume you've seen my hiking gear topic?
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In addition, what's your hiking style? What's your must-to-have gear? Elaborate as much as possible please.

Well, my style is to go alone, off-trail, straight across the landscape. Yes, it's more dangerous that way... Which makes it more exciting and interesting. But really, I go alone because I hike to get away from people; it defeats the purpose to bring people with me. And I go off-trail because it's quite simply a lot more fun that way. You get to see things and places that few people ever do*, and picking the route and finding ways around obstacles adds a fun mental challenge to it.
As for gear, I've already got one huge topic just about that, so elaborating as much as possible about that would be a little too much volume.

*I'm willing to bet that I've been places where nobody has ever gone before... Though the only instance where I can prove that is not with hiking, but with cave exploring.
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1. Have an updated topographic map of the area and a satellite image (just in case)

Whaddya mean, 'just in case'?
I use a topographic GPS (yes I carry extra batteries) and compass to navigate normally.
...Though usually my routes are simple enough that I can navigate with compass alone... If I set off hiking northwest, and there's a road to the south where I parked, I know that when I'm ready to go back, I just have to head southeast (or south) until I find that road, then follow it to where I parked.
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2. Have knowledge about possible dangers: animals, plants, floods, avalanches. If you're not sure - don't reach for it and don't touch it.

Of course.
Animals, bears (brown and grizzly), mountain lions, feral dogs. The first two aren't often seen though; I've never encountered them. I carry a .32 magnum revolver when hiking usually... Good for dogs, marginal for lions, useless for bears.
Plants... What's a dangerous plant anyway? There's poison ivy, but that will just make you itchy for a while... everything else is pretty safe as long as you don't go eating every plant you see.
Yeah, flash floods are a danger... I know to steer clear of valley and ravine bottoms when there's storm clouds about.
Avalanches and the like... not so much. I've got snow and mountains, but not enough of either for avalanches.
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3. Hydration - [...] If there are water sources in the area, bring a filtering kit with you

Meh. I do carry my own water, but most of the water sources here are very pristine, and I've acclimated myself to them. I've drank unfiltered stream water from this area many times with no problems... the risks (I think) are generally overstated... after all, what do the animals drink? They don't all get sick and die from bad water!
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4. Clothing - bad clothing choice leads to trouble.

Can't argue with that, though, for my style of hiking, I'll also add that it needs to be very durable and not prone to snagging on branches, thorns, or burrs. (Cross-country hiking is harder on clothes than trail-hiking ^.^)
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5. Weight - are you a mule or a rat?

A mule, for certain.
I'm in great shape, and accustomed to hiking with a heavy load... but my pack weighs in at around 60-70lbs... I really do need to reduce the weight some.
Still, that's what I'm used to. Once, recently I was (on a rare occasion) hiking with some other people on a trail... I had my full pack, and they had nothing, but I was still out-pacing them.
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6. Shoes -

I'll stick with my old combat boots.
They're very well broken in and very comfortable, and waterproof.
(Being waterproof is extremely important for keeping feet warm when hiking in snow!)
Again, they're heavy, but I'm physically and mentally accustomed to that, so it's not a problem.
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7. Food

Compared to the rest of the pack, I do really skimp on food, as one way to save on weight.
Rule of 3, after all.
Before you really start to get degrading performance from your body, you can go: 3 minutes without air, 3 hours exposed to the elements without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.
I think I can manage to acquire some food from the wilderness within 3 weeks, so I focus more on stuff that would help get food, rather than carrying food itself.
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8. First Aid Kit - a must.

I recently re-made mine... I wasn't satisfied with a pre-made kit anymore and assembled my own... mostly from surplus military supplies that I'm familiar with and that are quick and easy to use. SAM splint, Israeli bandage, those kinds of things.
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9. Camera -

I'll usually take one, but I wouldn't call it essential by any means.
The one I do take is a ruggedized one, that can (and has) survived being dropped, dragged, and submerged.
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10. Tents, sleeping bags

I only go on day trips, so I would only be camping in an emergency... So, I carry the more versatile tarp and strings. (And a towel - Ford Prefect would be proud.)
A tarp and some ingenuity can make as good a tent as any... but it can also be used for a lot of other things too.
Heck, with a little know-how and a few hours of work, you can make a pretty good shelter out of natural materials, too... but the tarp does make waterproofing a whole lot easier.
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10. Other (probably) useful gear: That's your second #10 there...
a good knife (SOG, Ontario, Ka-Bar, Cold Steel - nice brands), An AK bayonet for me, because I had it laying around already. It's a decent knife, relatively soft steel, so it dulls quickly, but that also means it's very difficult to break, so it can be used for chopping and prying without fear... And it's for emergency use only, so it doesn't get enough use to dull it. The spiffy part is that the knife and sheath can interlock to make wire cutters.
a 550 cord, Rather than one medium-strength cord, I carry a 50ft 4000lb strap (climbing webbing), and about 200ft of light twine. Twine because it's light and small so I can carry a lot. It can be doubled or tripled up for more strength, and it can also make a good tinder for starting a fire.
a small saw (Sawvivor) if you're planning to have a healthy fire pit, I do carry a (very) small hunter's bone saw (good for wood too), but that's mostly for shaping wood, not cutting it. For cutting, I take a full-size axe. Heavy, but if you've ever tried chopping firewood, you know you don't want anything smaller!
a good LED flash-light (I prefer headlamps), A couple, yes, including a headlamp. The headlamp I use for hiking also has a dim red mode, which I really like. It gives just enough light to see where you're putting your feet, but it doesn't ruin your night vision, so you can still see out beyond where the beam can penetrate.
trekking poles, I prefer just a single walking stick. It helps so much with picking my way across difficult terrain.
gaiters for snowy conditions, Um, no. Insulated waterproof boots, and insulated waterproof pants. (Though I only use the pants for extremely bad conditions. Usually the boots are enough.)
extra batteries with a cellphone adapter, Extra batteries, yes... but reserved for the flashlights and GPS. A full cell phone battery can be had with the simple expedient of turning it off unless you need it... Though around here, there often isn't any signal anyway.
an unbreakable mirror if your compass doesn't have it - for signalling mostly, No separate mirror. A shiny knife or axe blade would serve if I really needed one for some strange reason. Three gun shots in a row, a pause, and three more is a standard distress signal, and can be noticed from a lot further away than a mirror.
anti altitude sickness medication (if needed), Not needed 'round here.
a good wrist watch (G-Shock and alike). Whatever for? When I'm hiking I don't care what time it is. Distance measurements by time-reckoning are very inaccurate, I can tell how long it is until sunset by looking at the sky**, and if I really needed to know the time, I've got the GPS and phone.

My comments in blue

**This far north, sunset time varies a lot by season anyway, and in the mountains, sunset time varies a lot depending on where you are in relation to the mountains around you. Sunset on a west-facing slope could be hours later than sunset on an east-facing slope... So really, I think simply looking at the sky and how far the sun is above the horizon gives me a more accurate estimate of how much time I have than looking at a clock does.
Ankhanu
I'm a day-trip hiker, I almost never hike overnight.
I tend to pack as minimally as possible, which means if I end up lost, I'll be a little screwed.

I do most of my hiking for work, however, so, I'm usually carrying a pack of research related gear, with little room for anything extra.

Must haves:
.: Water; 500ml to 3L, depending on how far I have to go and how hard the terrain will be. I normally don't need too much, but, there have been times I've gone through all of it and had to refill in streams. I only do this in areas I'm comfortable with the water source (yay for living in Canada and having clean natural water available)
.: Good footwear - though I have logged many hundred km in boots that were long overdue for replacement, sturdy footwear will treat you well on a long hike.
.: Weather appropriate clothing - For a nice summer day, I'll generally just have my currently worn boots, socks, undies, pants and shirt... maybe a bandana to sop up sweat. If there's going to be rain, a water resistant jacket will be added. Now in winter, I have warmer boots, a jacket and maybe a vest and gloves to the mix. I don't like too many layers, as I will remove them, and then I just have to carry them.
.: If it'll be long enough, I pack a single basic lunch; not trail food, but, something like a sandwich and granola bars and apples or oranges.
.: compass - I'll check the map ahead of time, note what direction I'd need to go to get out if I get lost, and that's about it.
.: GPS - this is for work, as I have specific destinations for sampling points. Punch in the UTMs and start walking. I don't have a personal GPS, except my iPhone, and it's not going to be a lot of help without a cellular signal.

If I don't need to, I won't have a pack at all. For work, I have a sturdy hiking pack... my personal pack broke on me a year ago and I haven't replaced it. It was just the bookbag I'd bought in my undergrad in about 1999-2000.

That really about covers what I bring. I might bring along a bird field guide and some insect collecting material (i.e. vials of ethanol, and dry collection vials), and I might bring my camera, but I don't have a compact camera, just a DSLR, which can be bulkier than I want to carry and I don't take it out in the rain, so it sometimes gets left behind.

EDIT - Oh yeah, I always carry a knife, so I didn't consider it special hiking must have... but I do have a knife Razz
Helios
ocalhoun, thanks for the awesome reply there. Contains a lot of info coming from experience. Are you used to a certain type of wilderness (a desert, a forest...) or do you have experience in many kinds of terrain ?

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Well, my style is to go alone, off-trail, straight across the landscape. Yes, it's more dangerous that way... Which makes it more exciting and interesting. But really, I go alone because I hike to get away from people; it defeats the purpose to bring people with me. And I go off-trail because it's quite simply a lot more fun that way. You get to see things and places that few people ever do*, and picking the route and finding ways around obstacles adds a fun mental challenge to it.

I also share your opinion on the hiking style. I usually start with a known route, hard not to in my country, but then I go off-trail and most of the time I rely on my map. Much more fun, and not as dangerous if you're careful. Actually it's kind of a challenge to stay away from civilization here, but possible nevertheless.

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I use a topographic GPS (yes I carry extra batteries) and compass to navigate normally.

Well I never owned a GPS, but I'm not against them at all. I think that it's an awesome tool to have. Here in Israel though I haven't found a reason to use it for normal navigation, since the country is so tiny and most of the time you can easily spot landmarks. Thing is, we have a lot of mine fields in the north, quite a lot of areas dedicated to military training activities in general and I'm not talking about the Arab population and their villages and cities all around the country... all this information is usually printed on the topographic maps they sell here. I actually tried looking for GPS maps with that sort of information, but found only a map of military training areas which is outdated as well. Sad

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I'll stick with my old combat boots.
They're very well broken in and very comfortable, and waterproof.

Yeah, mine (IDF boots) aren't so bad as well, but they aren't as good as a pair of hiking boots.
Maybe (or probably) US military boots are better. Would be cool to try them on.
Our boots usually have a long break-in period, since they are mostly made of leather and it takes time for it to soften and be comfortable. I did several rather long hikes with them and survived, but as I said my civilian hiking boots are better for me.


Ankhanu, if it's work related, I guess you hike with a group, right?
How often do you hike?




To be honest, I kind of predicted to myself that both of you will be the first to reply here! Just thought it would be funny to mention Smile
Ankhanu
Helios wrote:
Ankhanu, if it's work related, I guess you hike with a group, right?
How often do you hike?

Usually one other person, both for safety and because most of the work requires at least two people to do.
Right now, I'm reaching the end of my contract (1.5wk left), and we've pretty much wrapped up our field work, so I'm working in the lab more often... but, through the terms, I'm outside most days (3-5 days a week, generally 4 or 5, rather than fewer days) and our sample sites are anywhere from ~700 m to 12ish km off-trail, with most around 2-3km probably. Not too far, generally (though the terrain can be difficult, either with some climbing involved or thick, stunted trees to push through/over). Often we can do multiple closer sites in a day, depending on how much time we have to spend on-site for data collection (some things take 15 minutes, other things take 2-4 hours Razz ).

Last fall we spent pretty much all of November, into December, mapping in-stream habitat fragmentation (e.g. barriers to brook trout upstream movement within the stream) in a couple of the rivers/streams in the park. We covered a LOT of ground, walking from the ocean to the source and up each side branch marking points on our GPS and taking photos/measurements. That had us out in some rather spectacular places, and in some rather crummy weather... it was both awesome and hateful at the same time (plus we were doing it all in chest waders, not even comfy hiking boots!) Wink



Helios wrote:
To be honest, I kind of predicted to myself that both of you will be the first to reply here! Just thought it would be funny to mention Smile

Good to be known, I suppose Wink
ocalhoun
Helios wrote:
ocalhoun, thanks for the awesome reply there. Contains a lot of info coming from experience. Are you used to a certain type of wilderness (a desert, a forest...) or do you have experience in many kinds of terrain ?

Well, most of my experience is in mountainous pine forest, but I've also hiked some in the Badlands (prarie/semi-desert), and some in Florida (sandhill scrub).
Of them all, scrub is the worst... often overgrown and difficult to penetrate, and palmettos are a pain to try and hike through. Often really hot, too.
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Much more fun, and not as dangerous if you're careful.

I don't know how it could be described as less dangerous than on-trail hiking...
It's much rougher, giving higher likelihood of injury, and much greater possible area, meaning that if you do need help, a search party will have a much harder time finding you.
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Actually it's kind of a challenge to stay away from civilization here, but possible nevertheless.

That's one thing I like about this area... While it can be difficult to find a place remote enough to get away from all signs of civilization (especially the sounds, like road noise from large trucks), it is at least possible to get reasonably far away from it without much effort.
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I use a topographic GPS (yes I carry extra batteries) and compass to navigate normally.

Well I never owned a GPS, but I'm not against them at all. I think that it's an awesome tool to have. Here in Israel though I haven't found a reason to use it for normal navigation, since the country is so tiny and most of the time you can easily spot landmarks. Thing is, we have a lot of mine fields in the north, quite a lot of areas dedicated to military training activities in general and

I hope they at least mark the minefields... sounds a bit dangerous.

And finding a GPS with topo maps loaded is difficult, true. I had to get one that had been reprogrammed by a third party... But it is so much better for off-trail navigation than a standard GPS... Being able to recognize hills and landmarks, and actually having nearly all streams and lakes marked really helps with navigation!
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Maybe (or probably) US military boots are better.

I wouldn't count on it.
They also have a long break-in period (also mostly leather*)... but I had been wearing these every day for years, so they got very well broken in.

*Suede leather... which has one very nice advantage I discovered one day. If you step in an ant bed, and the ants start attacking you, they'll mistake suede leather for hide, and just sit there biting your boots instead of climbing higher. It gives an amazingly effective protection against ant bites.
Helios
ocalhoun wrote:
Helios wrote:

Much more fun, and not as dangerous if you're careful.

I don't know how it could be described as less dangerous than on-trail hiking...
It's much rougher, giving higher likelihood of injury, and much greater possible area, meaning that if you do need help, a search party will have a much harder time finding you.


I'm not saying that it's possible to be careful enough off-trail so that it will be as (or less) dangerous as staying on the trail. I'm just saying that you should be extra careful off-trail and you'll increase your chances of staying in good health out there Smile
Many times it is worth the risk though, because apart from the challenging terrain and everything you can find some interesting places which people don't usually visit.

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I use a topographic GPS (yes I carry extra batteries) and compass to navigate normally.

Well I never owned a GPS, but I'm not against them at all. I think that it's an awesome tool to have. Here in Israel though I haven't found a reason to use it for normal navigation, since the country is so tiny and most of the time you can easily spot landmarks. Thing is, we have a lot of mine fields in the north, quite a lot of areas dedicated to military training activities in general and

I hope they at least mark the minefields... sounds a bit dangerous.

And finding a GPS with topo maps loaded is difficult, true. I had to get one that had been reprogrammed by a third party... But it is so much better for off-trail navigation than a standard GPS... Being able to recognize hills and landmarks, and actually having nearly all streams and lakes marked really helps with navigation!
[/quote]
Yeah I can imagine that it's pretty cool. Also being able to program routes etc. Are you using one of the Garmin units?

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Maybe (or probably) US military boots are better.

I wouldn't count on it.
They also have a long break-in period (also mostly leather*)... but I had been wearing these every day for years, so they got very well broken in.

*Suede leather... which has one very nice advantage I discovered one day. If you step in an ant bed, and the ants start attacking you, they'll mistake suede leather for hide, and just sit there biting your boots instead of climbing higher. It gives an amazingly effective protection against ant bites.

Yeah, one thing about our boots is that they don't last for years. Not a very durable boot. It will last for at least 3-4 years of constant usage, but that's about it. Good thing that it's possible to get replacements quite easily, since you can easily find someone who's in active duty Smile
Afaceinthematrix
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I'll stick with my old combat boots.
They're very well broken in and very comfortable, and waterproof.


That's because you do short trips. I think I've told you before that if you ever decide to do a ten day trip where you're averaging 15 miles a day and gaining and losing thousands of feet of elevation that you'll want to consider light weight hiking boots because those combat boots will leave your feet sore as hell by the shear weight of of them as your feet are having to lift and carry them so far.




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As for me, I'm an extremely experienced hiker. I do day hikes only when I don't have time for overnight trips. I usually like to take a couple a year. This year, I took two (one in August and one in September). The one in August left me gone for about 8 days. It was relatively short (about 55 miles) but had a decent amount of elevation change (+-12,000 feet... it was a round trip so 12,000 up and 12,000 down). It was relatively remote because it was in a huge chunk of wilderness area in the U.S. and I saw very few other people and some days I saw zero people at all...

My other trip was in the Cascade mountains of Oregon and that trip was extremely easy. It was 25 miles and I did it in 3 days. Although I could have done it all in a single day. It was a nice trip, though. I then went up to Washington and hiked around for awhile.

The best trip that I ever did was a canoe/hiking trip in Canada. That was remote as Hell. Eleven days seeing absolutely no one else. I went about 100 miles total - so about 50 miles into some forested areas and then back out. Basically, we'd canoe to the end of a lake or river and then get out and carry the canoe, and our gear, across land until we got to another lake or river. We had detailed maps. The downside was that it rained almost every second and the few seconds where we didn't have rain, we were dealing with millions of mosquitos. I wore long sleeves, pants, and a mosquito net nonstop yet still came back with hundreds of bites. Every inch of my body was covered with bites. That was miserable but the trip was really fun. The rain made it interesting because it would rain super hard and cause huge waves in the lake we had to paddle through while not being capsized. Sometimes when lightning would come we'd have to take cover somewhere.

As far as danger goes, your biggest danger is getting lost, getting dehydrated, or (depending on location) hypothermia/heat exhaustion. People spend too much time worrying about animals (I've had encounters with grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions (also known as cougars, panthers, puma, or catamount), moose, etc. and they mostly try to stay away as long as you engage in proper safety techniques. Meanwhile, I've come across hikers past out and dehydrated near death more than once... So that is the much bigger danger.

To deal with that, I carry plenty of water and then some extra, plus my water purifier. I have an MSR and it's a pretty good one. I usually also carry capsules to that if I find someone out of water and dehydrated, I can give them some of my water and then some capsules to take with them for later.
ocalhoun
Helios wrote:

Yeah I can imagine that it's pretty cool. Also being able to program routes etc. Are you using one of the Garmin units?

No, it doesn't program routes... not unless I (very tediously) set waypoint after waypoint up in advance... and that's a lot of trouble to go to when the pre-planned route will probably have to be abandoned sooner or later because of some obstacle that wasn't on the map.
Normally, I just have it trace my route as I walk. If I have a specific destination, I'll program that in, but only as a single waypoint so the GPS will conveniently tell me what direction it's in.
The traced route on the way in though often comes in handy on the way out, as it provides a perfect map of a known passable way out.

And it's not a garmin. It's a triton.
(It was cheaper, more durable, better waterproofing. Doesn't have a touch screen, but I don't really need that anyway. Triton doesn't sell units with topo maps though, which is why it had to be reprogrammed by a third party.)

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
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I'll stick with my old combat boots.
They're very well broken in and very comfortable, and waterproof.


That's because you do short trips. I think I've told you before that if you ever decide to do a ten day trip where you're averaging 15 miles a day and gaining and losing thousands of feet of elevation that you'll want to consider light weight hiking boots because those combat boots will leave your feet sore as hell by the shear weight of of them as your feet are having to lift and carry them so far.

Maybe maybe... but for now, they do fine...
Better than fine really, they've been used and abused for 4 years, and are still holding up perfectly.
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My other trip was in the Cascade mountains of Oregon and that trip was extremely easy. It was 25 miles and I did it in 3 days. Although I could have done it all in a single day. It was a nice trip, though. I then went up to Washington and hiked around for awhile.

Ooh. Where in particular?
I'll be moving to Spokane soon, so I might be able to go to the same places.
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People spend too much time worrying about animals (I've had encounters with grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions (also known as cougars, panthers, puma, or catamount), moose, etc. and they mostly try to stay away as long as you engage in proper safety techniques.

Quite true. I've never had a problem with wild animals... Feral and stray animals on the other hand... Well, there's a reason I usually carry a pistol caliber well suited for something dog-sized.
(For normal everyday carry, I have a semi-auto 9mm... but for outdoor activities, I'll usually take a .32 magnum revolver -- better suited to the most likely threat (stray and feral dogs), and more durable/resistant to dust and moisture. If the semi-auto gets wet or dirty, it might not cycle properly, but the revolver will work reliably in very bad conditions. --Though I will say, if I also plan on camping, I'll bring something much heavier, in case a bear is attracted to the camp.)
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Meanwhile, I've come across hikers past out and dehydrated near death more than once... So that is the much bigger danger.

Quite true. Lemme see if I can catalog the most common threats for hiking in order of commonness:
(generic of course, it would change based on location)
1- Dehydration
2- Heat/Cold (depending on climate)
3- Getting lost
4- Accidental injury (like tripping and falling)
5- Onset of illness while too far away to get medical attention (to include stress-induced heart attacks and the like)
6- Attack by wild animals, feral animals, or other humans (the specific order of which of those are more likely will vary widely between locations)
7- Natural disasters (like avalanche, rock slide or flash flood)
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:

Ooh. Where in particular?
I'll be moving to Spokane soon, so I might be able to go to the same places.


Well my three day 25 mile trip was a trail known as the McKenzie River Trail. It's really beautiful scenery but unfortunately it's trashed some. It's not back country at all and is used by a lot of mountain bikers and day hikers. Mount bikers and day hikers don't tend to have the same "leave no trace" mentality that backpackers have. I think the reason is that few people do what I do. Few people would pack a backpack with some basic survival gear and go out into the most remote place I can afford to travel to (for instance that Canada trip covered a huge territory and I saw no people nor any traces of people) because there's a lot of discomfort and difficulties in my hobbies and so you'd have to be a hardcore nature lover to do it. And hardcore nature lovers don't litter. Whereas the McKenzie River Trail had a lot of mountain bikers and day hikers in the form of high school kids who just want to find somewhere where their parents won't catch them drinking or smoking. So it's a beautiful area but if you go, please bring a trash bag or something and help clean up the trail (I picked up quite a bit of trash and packed it out). The trip wasn't really my style, though. It wasn't remote and parts of it were near a road. About every five miles you'd get to a parking lot. It was basically a bunch of day hike trails connected together to form a long one and most people just park in one of the day parking areas and ride their bike or hike for a few minutes. Most people don't do the whole thing and camp along the way. I could easily have done it in one day (I'm in great shape) but my father and I were just enjoying our time and taking it slow. We wanted to camp a couple of nights anyways. There were many camping opportunities. If you go there, IMO the coolest place was a place called blue pool. Here's some pictures - although it looks much cooler when you actually see it. The water is cool.
http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1024&bih=602&q=blue+pool+mckenzie+river+trail&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2&oq=blue+pool+mckenzie+river+trail&aq=f&aqi=g-S1&aql=&gs_sm=s&gs_upl=1297l1297l0l2256l1l1l0l0l0l0l144l144l0.1l1l0


The places I went to in Washington were all in the Olympic Penisula (which is amazing and it has the only rainforest in the continental U.S.). That is sort of far from you because you're near Idaho. I am not sure about Idaho because I have never been there but I've done quite a lot of backpacking in Wyoming and Montana area which is amazing.

Quote:

Quite true. I've never had a problem with wild animals... Feral and stray animals on the other hand... Well, there's a reason I usually carry a pistol caliber well suited for something dog-sized.
(For normal everyday carry, I have a semi-auto 9mm... but for outdoor activities, I'll usually take a .32 magnum revolver -- better suited to the most likely threat (stray and feral dogs), and more durable/resistant to dust and moisture. If the semi-auto gets wet or dirty, it might not cycle properly, but the revolver will work reliably in very bad conditions. --Though I will say, if I also plan on camping, I'll bring something much heavier, in case a bear is attracted to the camp.)


Well please try not to shoot the animals if you have to. Shoot near them. The noise will scare them off anyways. I've never had a gun (national parks won't let you anyways). I've had bears (black bears and the feared grizzly/brown) come through my camp in the middle of the night. I've been close to a cougar. I've been close to other animals as well. The trick with them tends to be the same. Act big and make noise and they'll leave. One time I had 7 or 8 bears come through in a single night and I just kept shouting and hitting some hiking poles together and they left. Really, if you're that worried about animals, you can buy bear spray (although I've heard wasp spray works just as well and is cheaper). It's basically a pepper spray for bears and is amazingly effective (just check out youtube videos on it). It will get the bear to turn around. And I doubt you'll ever see a cougar because they are so elusive. You either have to be EXTREMELY lucky or be out tracking them. I've gotten lucky only once in all my years of being outside (and I don't think years is exaggerated... I've spent well over 365 days in the wilderness accumulatively throughout my life). Most people never get lucky. If you wanted to see one there are ways you can try to track them (if you see a dead deer or something get a pair of binoculars and stand far away down wind so your scent won't be picked up and wait... and if you're patient enough you might get lucky)...
Robert_Redbeard
Hello all.

I do a bit of day hiking when I get a chance. I like to practice my primitive skills and see what kind of critters I can sneak up on in the woods or fields. I like to just go find a nice place to sit and listen some times.

I grew up out in the country and spent a lot of time out in the woods either hunting or just playing around. I live in the city now and just like to get out every once in a while. Even if it is just heading out of town on a country road and exploring a patch of woods or pond in the middle of nowhere.

When I do get time to actually camp, I like to go kinda cave man. Friction or spark initiated fire, primitive shelter, that kind of stuff. Used to do a lot of weekend camps along the Elkhorn river. Would set out some bank lines and catch a load of catfish. Canoe down the river in the morning and set up a new camp, have some fish and start all over again. Made for some fun weekends.

I'm working on some stuff for my YouTube Channel. Mostly basic stuff. Might even take my camera out on a trek or two once I get a new one. I have never used a bow drill or done hand drill fire starting. So I though it might be interesting to document the learning curve on that skill.

Enough for now.
ocalhoun
Robert_Redbeard wrote:
Friction or spark initiated fire, primitive shelter, that kind of stuff.

I am a fan of the primitive shelter... but I wouldn't want to be relying on primitive fire starting in an emergency. In my experience, they're difficult and time-consuming, and only work well in the best of conditions... While in an emergency, you'll likely need fire quickly and easily, and especially in the worst of conditions.
(ie, if I find myself caught in an unexpected cold rain that's starting to turn to snow, and won't be able to make it out, I need to make a shelter and a fire quickly... and that means I don't want to waste time rubbing two wet sticks together.)
Multiple lighters (of a kind that can throw sparks even when out of fuel*), stored dry tinder, and a little bottle of rubbing alcohol** -- that's my primary fire kit.
Primitive and alternative techniques make a good backup... but they're no replacement for some dry tinder and matches or a lighter... Not when you're in an area where cold weather can be deadly and unpredictable at times.

*Having multiple lighters gives me a second source of liquid fuel to help ignite a difficult fire, as well as giving a backup in case one stops working. If needed, I could break open the spare lighters, dump the fluid onto the fire pit, and then use the remaining one to ignite it.
**Rubbing alcohol burns relatively cool, but it ignites very easily, and it also has medical uses, so it does double-duty serving as part of the first aid kit as well.
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
So it's a beautiful area but if you go, please bring a trash bag or something and help clean up the trail (I picked up quite a bit of trash and packed it out).

That's very nice to know... and sounds a lot like the Mickelson or Centennial trails here.
I don't think I'll pick any up though... as long as tons of people are still dropping it, that's a fight I'm doomed to lose. If they want to pollute their trail, that's their business... as long as they don't pollute the remote areas, I'll be okay.

Hm... by the way, do they allow horses on that trail? That might be a nice way to go.
Quote:
If you go there, IMO the coolest place was a place called blue pool.

Wow... that is really neat. Very unusual color... is it a hot spring of some kind, is that the reason for the color?
Quote:

The places I went to in Washington were all in the Olympic Penisula (which is amazing and it has the only rainforest in the continental U.S.). That is sort of far from you because you're near Idaho.

Oh, I intend to visit Olympic at least once while I'm there. Maybe go on week-long trips to the coastal area during school breaks or something. Besides Olympic there's a lot of other cool stuff in that area as well, like the Columbia River Gorge. -- That one I've been to before... very spectacular waterfalls there!
Quote:
I am not sure about Idaho because I have never been there but I've done quite a lot of backpacking in Wyoming and Montana area which is amazing.

Well, there should be plenty of places to go locally... That's one of the reasons I picked the place.
Quote:

Well please try not to shoot the animals if you have to. Shoot near them. The noise will scare them off anyways.

Of course. For larger animals my normal hiking pistol would only piss them off anyway.
Like I said... it's optimized for dogs. There are packs of stray/feral dogs around here sometimes, and unlike other animals, they don't fear humans.
Quote:
I've never had a gun (national parks won't let you anyways).

That changed recently, actually.
Due to a (relatively) new federal law, concealed carry permit holders can have firearms in national parks regardless of and signs or park policies you may see posted.
They still very much frown on you using guns within a national park though. It better be a life-or-death emergency if you do.
Quote:
Act big and make noise and they'll leave. One time I had 7 or 8 bears come through in a single night and I just kept shouting and hitting some hiking poles together and they left.

Hm... what kind of bears?
And yeah, I know they'll usually run away if you're not acting scared of them and make loud noises (gunshots are loud ^.^)... but there are rare occasions when they don't run away...
Quote:
Really, if you're that worried about animals, you can buy bear spray (although I've heard wasp spray works just as well and is cheaper). It's basically a pepper spray for bears and is amazingly effective (just check out youtube videos on it). It will get the bear to turn around.

I suppose I might look in to taking that instead of something high-caliber for the rare occasions when I camp. Guns big enough to stop a bear are pretty heavy.
Quote:
And I doubt you'll ever see a cougar because they are so elusive. You either have to be EXTREMELY lucky or be out tracking them.

Yeah, I've never seen one... but they are very common around here. The place I used to live had tons of them (due to the bighorn sheep population close by, probably), and while I never saw one, I often found tracks, and I once thought I heard one following me as I went down to the horse pasture, though I never saw it.
They did get pretty bold though... one of my neighbors there once saw a mountain lion take down a bighorn sheep on their back porch.
While hiking though, my best defense against them is actually my backpack. From what I hear, they always like to make a surprise attack, and they're very sneaky, so I probably wouldn't see it coming in time anyway... But, I hear they always attack from above or behind, and always go for the back of the neck... Which is conveniently enough covered by a sturdy metal-framed backpack. ^.^
Not that it would be likely anyway... But I will say that back when I lived in that highly cougar-infested place, I would always take a gun and be very wary when going down to the pasture to check on the horse... Especially at night and especially in the winter. (Going to the pasture involved walking through about 1/8 mile of woods... in prime mountain lion hunting territory. Sure the chances of an attack were low... but I judged it worth taking precautions for, because in the unlikely event that it did happen, it would be a pretty horrific way to go.)

But, all speculation and preparation for unlikely events aside, the only animal I think I have any real chance of needing to shoot would be dogs... Hence carrying a relatively low-caliber gun.

Well, actually, come to think of it, the closest I've come to actually needing protection against an animal was a buffalo... Another animal that my usual pistol would only piss off.
Luckily, this one was satisfied that I backed away... but they can be territorial sometimes... and they're really big and faster than a horse over short distances. :/
Not much I can do about that, except try to keep my distance and not make them angry. Even the biggest, heaviest, most impractical guns I could hope to own would be pretty marginal if it came to stopping a charging buffalo. They have very thick skulls... anything big enough to stop that would be way too big and heavy to carry for hiking.
Robert_Redbeard
I always carry dry tinder, a lighter and a magnesium ferrorod combo. And I do mean always. I also have a lot of experience starting fires with this combo. Even in wet conditions. I don't carry a liquid accelerant though. I prefer good old fashioned petrolium jelly on a bit of coyyon ball. Burns hot and it burns for a long time. Drop a bundle of dead pine needles on top of that and you got a fire that can't be beat.

If I'm actually going out farther than I can get back in one day, I do take a modern form of shelter. I also take my cell pnone and extra layers of clothing. I grew up pretty tough thanks to my dad. But I am still careful.

Oh and the reason I carry the petrolium jelly is because it can't leak out if I get a hole in my container. Plus it has many uses.

Thanks for the reply.
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:

That's very nice to know... and sounds a lot like the Mickelson or Centennial trails here.
I don't think I'll pick any up though... as long as tons of people are still dropping it, that's a fight I'm doomed to lose. If they want to pollute their trail, that's their business... as long as they don't pollute the remote areas, I'll be okay.


I'd disagree. It's not a losing fight. 95% of the trash is on the trail or on designated campsites. If you go off the trail to take a piss you probably won't find trash. Therefore, the simple action of picking up the trash you're walking over anyways is effective. I hiked the trail once and I alone probably picked up more than half the trash. And I went at the end of season so I picked it up from an entire season. Plus, it is a case of influence. I do the same with local trails around here and you'd be surprised by the reactions of other people. I started taking a trash bag with me on a local trail and before I knew it, other people who saw me were doing the same and now it's well-maintained.

Quote:
Hm... by the way, do they allow horses on that trail? That might be a nice way to go.


Definitely not. Check out that page full of pictures.

Google images "McKenzie River Trail". You'll see quite a few narrow bridges because you constantly cross rivers. Horses couldn't do that...


Quote:

Wow... that is really neat. Very unusual color... is it a hot spring of some kind, is that the reason for the color?


Don't know the reasoning. But it looks much cooler in person.


Quote:

Hm... what kind of bears?


Black bears - which is all you'll encounter in your area. For brown bears, you either have to go to Yellowstone area or Canada or Alaska. For brown bears, I just face them with my bear spray ready.


Quote:

Yeah, I've never seen one... but they are very common around here. The place I used to live had tons of them (due to the bighorn sheep population close by, probably), and while I never saw one, I often found tracks, and I once thought I heard one following me as I went down to the horse pasture, though I never saw it.
They did get pretty bold though... one of my neighbors there once saw a mountain lion take down a bighorn sheep on their back porch.
While hiking though, my best defense against them is actually my backpack. From what I hear, they always like to make a surprise attack, and they're very sneaky, so I probably wouldn't see it coming in time anyway... But, I hear they always attack from above or behind, and always go for the back of the neck... Which is conveniently enough covered by a sturdy metal-framed backpack. ^.^
Not that it would be likely anyway... But I will say that back when I lived in that highly cougar-infested place, I would always take a gun and be very wary when going down to the pasture to check on the horse... Especially at night and especially in the winter. (Going to the pasture involved walking through about 1/8 mile of woods... in prime mountain lion hunting territory. Sure the chances of an attack were low... but I judged it worth taking precautions for, because in the unlikely event that it did happen, it would be a pretty horrific way to go.)

But, all speculation and preparation for unlikely events aside, the only animal I think I have any real chance of needing to shoot would be dogs... Hence carrying a relatively low-caliber gun.


yeah cougars are common but you'll still probably never see one. If you do you're extremely lucky or were tracking it. Seeing the prints is easy. The problem with cougars is that you've probably walked pass many and not seen them... They like to hide and so it's very hard to see them.
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:

Quote:
Hm... by the way, do they allow horses on that trail? That might be a nice way to go.


Definitely not. Check out that page full of pictures.

Google images "McKenzie River Trail". You'll see quite a few narrow bridges because you constantly cross rivers. Horses couldn't do that...

For some of those bridges... yeah, maybe...
And for some of those rivers, they look fordable...

But yeah, there were a couple pictures there of places where the only option would be to swim the horse across... which can be pretty dangerous.
And I'm not ready for that level of dedication... especially not on a cold day!
Quote:

Black bears - which is all you'll encounter in your area.

Well, I haven't seen any personally... nor even any signs, but I'm told there's both black and brown... though both very rare.
Quote:

yeah cougars are common but you'll still probably never see one. If you do you're extremely lucky or were tracking it.
Or if it's tracking you. ^.^
I know a couple of hunters here who have both been stalked by cougars before on different occasions. (Which might be partly due to their efforts to smell like deer.)
On both occasions, the cougar (apparently) went away once they noticed and made an effort to scare it off.
deanhills
I didn't see anything about mosquito repellents. I seem to recall you thoroughly covered that in your backpacking thread (will go and have a look), but I'd imagine that would be a very important feature in any hiking.

Edit: OK. This is a link to Ocalhoun's backpacking thread. Watch out for contributions from Matrix as he gave some great ideas for repelling mosquitoes.
http://www.frihost.com/forums/vp-995675.html#995675
Helios
Sorry.... I kinda accidentally edited this post instead of quoting it... and now I can't get the original content back... - ocalhoun
faten
i hope one day i can do that
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
I didn't see anything about mosquito repellents. I seem to recall you thoroughly covered that in your backpacking thread (will go and have a look), but I'd imagine that would be a very important feature in any hiking.


I don't use any.
Well, that's a bit of a lie... I don't normally use any Razz I will break down and use it if I'm going to be standing still for long periods (i.e. surveyor work in the field) and the flies are really bad... but, for the most part, I just tough our Canadian mosquitoes and black flies out and ignore them.

The worst are the horse or deer flies (Tabanidae) anyway, which aren't influenced by sprays. They're almost entirely visual hunters, while mosquitoes (Culicidae) and black flies (Simuliidae) use olfaction and switch to other cues to actually land/bite. The sprays inhibit the land/bite circuits (though they enhance the detect/find behaviour), keeping the flies off you, though they're still around. Since deer flies don't work that way, they just keep buzzing around and eventually biting Razz
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
flies don't work that way, they just keep buzzing around and eventually biting Razz
I'm more worried about mosquitoes that carry malaria. Like on Pemba island and Zanzibar for example. Or in some of the other African countries. And then yes, I'm not too keen on horse flies. Particularly the flesh eating variety.

By the way, what do you do about the deer flies? I'd imagine they would be quite friendly towards you since you're making such a great study of them? Twisted Evil
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
I'm more worried about mosquitoes that carry malaria. Like on Pemba island and Zanzibar for example. Or in some of the other African countries.

Yeah, we don't have malaria causing Plasmodium here, so it's not an issue.
deanhills wrote:
By the way, what do you do about the deer flies? I'd imagine they would be quite friendly towards you since you're making such a great study of them? Twisted Evil

If I have a sweep net with me, a few tight figure-eights around my head will watch several of them and contain them (easy to kill when confined Razz ). Usually I don't have a net, however, so, I have to ignore their incessant orbit, or, employ a careful, patient, calculated swat&grab effort, nabbing or swatting them out of the air individually.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
Usually I don't have a net, however, so, I have to ignore their incessant orbit, or, employ a careful, patient, calculated swat&grab effort, nabbing or swatting them out of the air individually.
Sounds as though you have loads of experience. Mine is limited to mosquitoes. I was using almost the same technique as yours. I did take the usual malaria medication, but not completely trusting it, i.e. that it would cover the Pemba Island strain of malaria, I went all out to avoid being stung, plenty of anti-mosquito ointments, not being out at dusk and dawn, netting etc. When I was a kid we had plenty mosquitoes in South Africa - I used to go for them with pillow against the ceiling. They were fortunately of the non-malaria variety. Still very annoying at night.
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