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The Basics Before you go for Hiking

Planning for a backpacking trip works pretty much the same as planning for everyday life. Some people like planning, some people hate it. Some do it better than others. But everyone agrees (as much as everyone agrees on anything) that you need to know certain basics before you go tromping off in to the back of beyond.

Here's what they are:

    Consult a map or a guidebook to get an idea of the terrain. You need to know whether you're in for an easy stroll or muscle-wrenching climb. Guidebooks and maps will also tell you about campsites, distances between them, elevation gain and loss, and water sources.

    Get a weather forecast (remember that valley forecasts do not apply to a ridge 5,000 feet up a mountain!) You should also know what the average conditions are, as well as the possible extremes. Can it snow in August? You'll need a hat and warm clothes. Do the springs run dry during a drought? Bring an extra water bottle.

    Know how far you have to walk between campsites. Campsites may be dictated by local regulations, water supply, or the terrain. Be sure you can make the distance!

    Pack enough food (plus a little extra for the time you intend to be out).

    Leave your itinerary (however detailed it may or may not be ) with someone at home. Let them know when you'll be back, and what to do if you don't show.

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