This guest post is by Jenna Smith (No relation to me.)
If you’re planning an upcoming hiking trip in a wilderness area, you’ve probably already undertaken a wide range of preparatory survival measures. You’ve purchased a transmitter radio, gotten a package of survival food from BuyEmergencyFoods, and assembled a first aid kit. You’ve packed warm clothes and you’ve read up on dangerous berries, animals, and other phenomenon that you may come across.
In short, all survival precautions have been taken and you’re all ready to go.
But not so fast. When people are preparing for such a trip, especially if they are headed to a vast wilderness area, they often neglect one key survival element before setting out: geography.
Sure, they have a sense of the terrain and a path that they plan to cover. But they haven’t considered their trip’s geography from a survival standpoint. What if a medical emergency compels you to seek civilization? What if severe and dangerous weather hits while you’re hiking? What if you’ve run out of water and the river you’re following has turned muddy from recent storms? These are all good questions to ask yourself.
To be better prepared for such situations, you’re going to want to have contingency plans, based on your geographic context, in case any dire situation emerges. This requires closely studying your maps before the trip even begins. Here’s what to look for:
– Exit routes. On any given day of the hiking trip, make sure that you know the best path from your route to civilization. If a medical emergency arose, would you press ahead or leave your predetermined path? Which way would you go? It’s important to always know the quickest way to leave if necessary.
– Water sources. Many people forget to consider water sources before they begin a trip, largely because they’re bringing sufficient reserves or because they plan to follow a river the whole time. But reserves can be depleted and rivers can turn muddy after storms. Since water is the most essential element for life, you’d be amiss to not look at the map beforehand and try to identify any streams or other water sources that may be in your vicinity.
– Storm shelters. If it starts to rain during your hike, you’ll likely just put on a hood and keep trudging along. But if hail begins to fall you’re going to want more shelter. If a flash flood occurs you’ll want to seek higher ground. And if lightning approaches you need to prepare yourself for a strike.
All these weather events can happen quickly and unpredictably, meaning that it’s always good to consider these hypotheticals beforehand. At every point along your trip, insure that you know the quickest ways to seek shelter, lower ground, and higher ground.
These considerations should go a long way in helping you prepare for the unknown on your next hiking trip. Hopefully you won’t end up needing to know any geography besides that which lies along your immediate path, but if an issue of survival emerges, it’s crucial that you have your physical context in mind.
About the Author
Jenna Smith is a journalism student in St. Louis. Upon graduation, she hopes to travel the world while producing compelling content for the masses. When she isn’t writing, you can find her out hiking in the woods to block out the rest of the world.