1.Research Your Destination
Whether it’s heading out for a day trip to a secluded lake or a multi-day excursion into Mt. Assiniboine, it’s important to gain some knowledge of the area and things to expect before you go. One thing to find out is how long the hike is and if there is any elevation to be aware of. You don’t want to be surprised when your easy stroll turns out to be an uphill scramble. Be aware of your limitations. If you’re backpacking into the wilderness for the first time, choose a shorter destination so that if you realize your sleeping bag was too cold, or your new boots are giving you blisters, you don’t have too far to go on the way out.
Taking a few easy steps can give you peace of mind and ensure a safe and enjoyable trip off the beaten path. Always let someone know where you are going to and give them an approximate time that you will return. Most places off the beaten path have limited or no cell reception, so having a plan in the off chance that something does happen is a smart idea. Pack a map and compass or carry a GPS with you. Even trails that are well traveled will have forks in the path or can sometimes be difficult to navigate in certain types of terrain. A small first aid kit is also handy to take with you. Avioner tip: pack rigid strap tape for blisters and cuts instead of moleskin or bandages. It holds up well when it gets wet and can be used to repair other things like a hole in your tent or jacket.
Taking some time to plan out your itinerary and your gear is an important step before you go. Start by writing out a list of items you will need in your backpack. If you think you will be hiking in bear territory, it’s always a good idea to pack bear spray and know how to use it as well.
The weather can change quickly, especially up in the mountains. Check the forecast before you leave and plan your clothing and gear accordingly.
If you are doing any of the more popular backpacking trips you will want to make sure you have the necessary permits to hike in the area you are in as well. Some of those permits come available up to a year in advance.
4.Respect the Places You Go
Even though you are away from the crowds and nobody is there to police your every move, you want to leave the area better than you found it. Pack out all of your garbage that you packed in. If you see other garbage along the trail do a good deed and pick it up too.
Be careful where you walk. Stick to the path if there is one and don’t walk on sensitive plants and vegetation.
5. Enjoy the Experience
Finding yourself in quiet and serene landscapes can be quite the reward. After all of the planning and preparation you have finally arrived in a place with fewer people and often better views. Soak it in. Enjoy the time that you are unplugged from technology and focus on those things that are truly important in life. These moments can give clarity and a sense of wonder. It’s no wonder once you’ve tasted that freedom, it will be calling you back again and again.
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