As we turn the corner from spring into summer, the urge to get outdoors and explore new locations can be overwhelming. It might seem like you are constantly checking the weather to see if rain is in the forecast or if the last of the snow has melted — but if the weather is clear, it’s time to pack up and plan for a new adventure!
Determining the type of experience you and your crew are interested in having in the great outdoors can be half the fun. Whether you’re scoping out a nice place to camp, planning a horseback riding trip, or maybe a car-camping bonfire, with the summer warmth comes excitement to spend it outdoors where you feel like you really belong. Out in nature is where you can practice your survival skills, hone your hunting abilities, and even more. All of these activities lead to differing gear decisions, such as whether or not a tent or fishing rod are needed.
Regardless of what the plan is for your outdoor adventure, it is imperative to be prepared for anything that could happen. Nature is not a controlled environment and even the slightest accident can change a short hike on a new trail into a full-day rescue mission. As you are preparing for your next trip, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are outdoors.
Have you Communicated?
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do when planning a trip back to nature is communicate with someone who will be staying in town about your plans. Once you have decided upon a destination, let that person know where it is and roughly when to expect you back. Always give them a specific time when they should be worried enough to send out a search party if you haven’t returned.
Another important aspect in communicating about your trip is to talk with others prior to leaving to get as much intel about the area as possible before hitting the trail. How many people typically hike in this area? Is there water available at regular intervals? Are there stream crossings? All of this information can make a big difference in determining the feasibility of a trip. Remember, if something comes up and you need to change your plan, only do so if you are able to confirm changes with the person you’ve shared your trip details with back in town.
While you are on the trail, be sure to adequately communicate with your group. Do not ever leave someone behind because they are traveling more slowly, as splitting up leads to the majority of accidents. If you are in grizzly bear country or anywhere you could take large predators by surprise (or vice versa), there is safety in numbers, as well as in regular noise and conversation.
Have you Packed Correctly?
Now that you have a well thought out plan and have communicated this with a buddy who will be staying behind, it is time to think about the things in your pack. There are a number of things that you may or may not bring depending upon the type of trip you are doing. For instance, day trips typically don’t require tents and sleeping bags.
However, there are some things that should be in your pack no matter what type of trip you’re planning. These things include a rain jacket, a headlamp, water, and a portable first aid kit. The first aid kit is the weight you carry that you hope you never have to use. It should include things such as bandaids, wraps, pain medications, allergy medications, and alcohol wipes, amongst other equipment.
Another thing to consider when packing is how items are arranged. Weight distribution and ease of access can be major factors in pack comfort and, ultimately, how tired carrying your pack throughout the day makes you. Be sure to pack heavy items closest to your back and items such as snacks that you’ll eat throughout the day in a top pocket for easy access.
Are you Willing to Accept Inherent Risks?
No matter what you are doing, all outdoor activity comes with some level of inherent risk. Do what you can to reduce these risks, but you need to be willing to accept that they will exist to a certain degree no matter what you do or how prepared you are. Acknowledging what the risks are is the first step to accessing and accepting concerns.
Of course, no one wants the worst to happen, and many are confident that it never will, but still always have a plan in case it does. How are you going to administer first aid and how will you get back to civilization? Where is the point when the risk is too high to continue forward and turning around is necessary? It is valuable to understand that if the worst does happen, you’ll have the same rights and protections, but life will change drastically.
Being cautious during your grand outdoor adventure is not a bad thing in any way. Any sort of injury, especially a disabling one, could greatly limit your ability to experience the outdoors the way you’d like to. Always be willing to turn around if you or group members are feeling uneasy or ill. Never push farther than your comfort zone allows.
Spending quality time in the great outdoors can bring an almost magical sort of ease and tranquility to your life. Being prepared and safe while out there can help to make sure it stays that way. If you are heading outdoors this summer be certain to communicate, pack accordingly, and be aware of any potential risks, no matter how unlikely.
About the Author:
Adrian Johansen loves to write, teach, and create. She believes in that a combination self-sufficiency and teamwork can help anyone live an intentional, meaningful life. Check out more of her writing on twitter!