Mother Nature can be unforgiving to those that are not prepared. Baden-Powell was no fool. In regards to wilderness travel,preparedness manifests itself in various ways, one of which is pre-hike research. Internet, guidebooks, maps, Outdoor magazines, experienced hiker friends; knowing what you are getting yourself in for before embarking on your journey is one of the keys to a safe and successful trip.
WHEN TO GO?
- In Season: The ideal time weather-wise, but depending on where you are hiking, crowds may be an issue. May not be the best time for those seeking solitude, however it is the optimum period for beginners looking to gain experience.
- Out of Season: No crowds, but weather is usually an issue. Generally requires a higher level of backcountry skill and experience in order to deal with what could potentially be difficult conditions.
- The Shoulder Seasons: Can be an ideal compromise for seasoned hikers wanting to avoid the crowds, but at the same time providing the possibility of good weather.
- Other Contributing Factors: Flora (eg. autumn colours, spring foliage), fauna (eg. migration, mating season) and cultural (eg. ceremonies, festivals).
You have organized maps, guidebook and any other information (e.g. water reports, waypoints, etc.) relevant to your proposed route. Now it’s time to get down to the details:
- Estimate time and distance; both for the hike in its entirety as well as for individual sections
- Identify possible campsites.
- Note the location of water sources.
- Note the location of notable landmarks and/or points of reference along your chosen route.
- Identify potentially hazardous areas and possible evacuation routes.
- Prior to setting out, objectively assess your level of fitness, experience and skill. Problems in the backcountry can occur when ill-prepared hikers attempt routes that are currently beyond them.
With each passing year, increasingly more hikers are looking for opportunities to stretch their legs in far flung locales. When hiking abroad, make an effort to educate yourself in regards to the customs, history and environmental issues of your chosen destination. A few words of the local language also never go astray. Your hosts will appreciate your efforts. Click here for a detailed look at the in’s and out’s of Hiking in Developing Countries.