Contingency planning, even for a local hike in Evergreen, is highly recommended. You can travel from 7,000 feet to over 14,000 feet right here in our beautiful backyard. With the change in elevation comes atmospheric and terrain changes that can threaten the unprepared hiker.
Over a number of blogs, we will reference our experience as local volunteer mountain rescuers and discuss some actual events and things you should do to be safe in the backcountry. So why are we discussing this topic, again? Because many of the “incidents” in the backcountry are preventable. A very high percentage of folks do not carry all the items recommended to keep them safe and to survive unexpected backcountry calamities. The Denver Post has reported all the under prepared hikers in a detailed story you can find here.
What is preparedness? Simply, to have the right gear (and training) for the terrain and area you are hiking. And yes, that will vary depending on what you are doing. For example, when taking a 6 week backcountry hiking trip, my first aid kit is jam packed with necessary stuff that I might need. For a simple hike in the park, maybe a couple of band aides, you get the point?
The vast majority of hikers we have talked to simply do not believe “the unexpected” can happen to them – “we don’t plan on getting hurt” – or shall I say, “…that cannot happen to me”, and the “I’ve done this thousands of times”. These are the “Invincible”.
Folks may have hiked with in-appropriate gear, lack of gear, or no gear multiple times and yes, they have climbed fourteeners, and yes, they have made it back to the trailhead all without incident. Good for them! Call it luck, call it wise sub-conscious decision making at critical events during the hike – that ultimately results in a successful hike, or shall we call it “playing Russian Roulette”. You make the call.
These are bad actions that end up in a positive result. Such actions reinforce doing the same again, and presuming the same results will happen. “I’ve done it before without any problems.” How about speeding through that intersection on the red, whew, I made it! But what about next time? Do you want to take that risk, it could be a fatal decision?
Having an incident in the mountains affects not just you, but your hiking partner(s), and yes, those folks that are now confronted with having to stay with you and help you. And don’t forget the dozens of rescue folks risking their lives to save you.
Stay tuned to our next blog where we will discuss more about Backcountry Preparedness. Share and subscribe to stay up to date!
Upcoming FREE Backcountry Safety Series preparedness training event by Evergreen’s Alpine Rescue Team: