Here are some simple tips to help ensure your safety while enjoying the backcountry.
Plan Your Trip
Look up route information in guidebooks and websites. Visit or call the nearest ranger station for road and route conditions. Review the weather and avalanche conditions for the area you are visiting. You can find these resources under Links.
Tell a Responsible Person about Your Plan
Make sure your contact knows where you are going, what route you are taking, where you have parked and your license plate number, and when you’ll be back (be sure to call them when you do arrive back so they know you are safe). Many backcountry areas do not have cell service and If something unexpected happens, this will be the person to call for help in the event you don’t return as scheduled. Use the Trip Plan to help organize this information.
Carry the Necessary Equipment & Dress Appropriately
Be sure to carry the Ten Essentials at all time. Cotton is not a backcountry adventurer’s friend! Stick with synthetic clothing that wicks away sweat and also dries faster in the event of rain. Bring extra clothing in case the weather changes. Be sure your footwear provides adequate protection for your feet.
Make it a Party of Three & Stick Together
Whenever possible, invite a friend or two along for the trip. If something unexpected happens, this gives you a resource to help handle the situation or get help. When you are on trail, stay together. This helps ensure that one person doesn’t get lost.
Knowledge Increases Safety
Do you know how to use your gear, such as your compass or GPS unit? Can you tell if a storm is approaching? Do you know how to deal with first aid issues if they arise? If you don’t, attend a class. There are several groups that provide reasonably priced training. One great example is The Mountaineers. They are an outdoor climbing club that provides classes and trips for all levels of experience in hiking, climbing, alpine climbing, backpacking, first aid, kayaking, and the list goes on.