The Bigger Hike – Half Day, All Day, More Remote, Uphill
For those of you who agree with this Pacific Crest Trail Association banner and are up for, or have begun, longer hikes, maybe all day and into more remote or mountainous areas, the preparation and equipment list get more serious. By all means go for it—everyone you will meet along the way will have big smiles on their faces. It can readily become a full-blown passion as happened to me, even in my 60’s.
First and foremost, research the hike. If it has a name, there is information on the internet, and you can search for it. Find a trail map and look up trip reports by others who have done the hike. Clip images of key trail markers or natural features that mark the way, print them out and take them with you. That is a good preventative from getting lost.
Secondly, invest in an emergency GPS satellite communicator. I like the DeLorme InReach. Set it up before each hike so that it will track your progress every 20 minutes or so and it will send your location in real time to a web site you can share with a few others. They can either follow your progress or know where you are if you get into trouble. It also has a button that will contact the local sheriff’s office, which will pass information on to the appropriate Search & Rescue should something bad happen or if you get totally lost. I do not mean to scare anyone with this preparedness advice! Instead, think how much more secure you will feel with your communicator tacked right on your pack strap. And with the InReach you can send “I’m OK” or “I’m at Camp” or “At Summit!” or “I’m in Trouble” texts.
Third, I suggest you pay attention to the Long-hike Equipment List. It prepares you for some of the unexpected possibilities such as a longer-than-planned hike, a change in weather for the worse, or an injury – or even possibly helping someone else in difficulty.
While I do see people solo hiking on bigger hikes, that is not my recommendation. I have tried it and found that it is a bad idea. Lots can happen where a buddy would help greatly, and the whole experience is enhanced by the joy of sharing it with someone or some others who have the same passion and towards the remote outdoors. Take a buddy – and make sure it is someone who shares your speed of hiking, not competitive, does not have timing goals or summit fever and who likes to smell the same roses that you do. See: Picking a Buddy. You do not want to feel pressure to keep up with others. Instead, you want to stop when you see something of beauty or interest, or take a picture, or eat a trail snack or just take a breath. This is your day— extract all the happiness it has to offer.