No matter how simple a task may seem, it is always easier and smoother if you are prepared and have the right equipment. This is especially relevant when hiking. Suitable clothing, footwear, water, and food for a particular trail is something of a no-brainer. Though my Smokies’ companions and I regularly entertain and astonish ourselves with tales of park visitors we’ve encountered on steep rocky trails in flip flops and tube tops with no water. “Park” may be in the name, but the Smokies can quickly become anything but a ‘walk in the park.’ A little preparation can make a lot of difference.
A presentation on “Lost Proofing” at the recent DLIA conference discussed critical items to carry in case you become lost, hurt, or stranded in the park. Wanda DeWaard of Earth Kin Programs & Consulting listed several easy-to-pack items that could prove very helpful in emergency situations.
– Reflective thermal blanket (weighs 3 oz. and folds to 1.75 x 1.75 x 3.75 inches)
– Waterproof matches and dry tinder in baggie
– First aid kit of bandages, gauze, ointment, tape, pain reliever, Epi-pen and Ace bandage
– Small roll of duct tape
– Length of cord
– Reflective plastic mirror
– Colorful bandana
– Water purification tablets
– Cord saw
– Trail map and compass
– Plastic bag (dry cleaners or trash)
– Small plastic food container
It sounds like a lot, but each item is relatively small and lightweight with several of them fitting neatly inside the food container. With these items, you can keep warm and dry, signal for help, stay hydrated, and treat wounds if necessary. This type of preparation is certainly a must when backpacking and smart on any hiking trail, especially when alone. While I don’t plan on having any problems, my emergency kit is packed and ready for the trail nonetheless.