I'd just like to add two more items to Steve Howes' list, to round it out as a Top Ten list of ways to smarten up:
- Let someone know where you're going, and when you plan to be back. We all know the story of Aron Ralston and other unlucky hikers who might've had a less terrifying experience if they'd let someone know about their plans. After all, how much time does it take to send a friend a text message with your planned hiking route and ETA back at the trailhead? (Or when cell-phone reception fails, rely on that quaintly retro piece of technology, a pay phone.)
- Be aware of flash floods, and don't cross streams that aren't safe. Maybe I'm saying this because I often hike in the Southwest deserts, Sierra Nevada mountains and Hawaii, all places where flash floods and/or tricky stream crossings are a real concern for hikers. But when you're hiking, you need to know the weather report and resist the temptation to cross streams that are rushing too quickly or flowing too high to be truly safe. Especially when conditions could be even worse later in the day or whenever you may be retracing your steps. Remember what happened to Chris McCandless, as retold by Jon Krakauer in Into the Wild.
Photo: Sequoia National Park (Michael Connolly, Jr.)