The Bigger Hike – Half Day, All Day, More Remote, Uphill
For those of you who agree with the 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 the best 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 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 key 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 don’t 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 Summit!” or “I’m in Trouble” texts.
Third, I suggest you pay attention to the Recommended Day Hike Equipment Checklist you received when you signed up with me. It is not over-the-top; rather, 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 even 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 joyful attitude 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. 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 joy it has to offer.
I have a lot more to say about bigger hikes and uphill hiking/climbing including going for the very high mountains over 12,000 feet and even over 14,000 feet (fourteeners). Stay tuned. If you are thinking of taking a dog with you, be sure to take a look at Hiking With Your Dog.