Hey everyone! Narelle here from TNH Outdoors.
Recently, I cancelled a multi-day camping trip on a well known Australian track that I had been preparing myself for months to do solo. To give you a very quick back story, I cancelled my trip due to weather conditions: a cold front dumped large amounts of snow across the track and as such, I thought the conditions would be too treacherous for me.
It was an incredibly difficult decision to make and I can tell you right now it didn’t happen without some tears and numerous phone calls consulting park rangers on the local conditions. I was still holding on to MAYBE getting onto my flight and the all the terrible weather disappearing by the time I landed.
So today, I want to talk about hiking safety and the decisions you need to make before embarking on a multi-day hike.
Know where you’re going, and know where you should go if for some reason, you cannot find trail markings. What I am heavily implying here is that you should have some sort of navigational skill. Understand the terrain on all levels of the track and train yourself to conquer that style of terrain, even if the chance you will encounter it is only minuscule.
A multi-day hike means you will be taking at least a 60L pack with you with all of your gear. Now, whilst you might hike every weekend, I doubt the majority of you reading this embark on a day trip with large pack on you (because I learnt the hard way many years ago that it doesn't count as training). So seriously, train. In the lead up, I would walk or run every other morning with a 45L minimum backpack filled with random things. Over the course of maybe 4 weeks, I would gradually increase the weight until I was carry 17kgs comfortably. Did I mention how weird I looked at the local park? Frankly, it sucked – but it worked #backmusclesfordays
Have the right gear
Chance it might snow? Make sure your sleeping bag is prepared for that. Planning on 6 nights of camping? Have enough food for an extra night just incase you get held up. And do you have a first kit? I see so many hikers who don’t carry a basic first aid kit with them that I’m getting slightly anxious about just at the thought. Pack the right layers of clothing to suit the weather and make sure that you have waterproofs.
Have the right food
Whilst I have yet to encounter it personally, I’ve ready many stories about hikers carrying only a box of doughnuts, a block of chocolate, a packet of chips and so on. THIS IS NOT REAL FOOD. IT WILL NOT SUSTAIN YOU (but yes it is delicious). Plan food carefully, research and understand what foods will actually help your body regenerate and keep you going for days.
Understand the weather conditions and how they will affect all of the above
The weather is an ever-changing beast and can highly impact your travel experience. Follow weather updates prior to your departure and if you are flying in specifically to travel and are unsure, get in touch with a ranger on site at the park. They will know the trail and be able to advise you. If there is an option to take a personal tracking beacon – take it. The reason they exist is to help you because more likely than not, you’re embarking on a hairy trail.
Sometimes, as much as you realllllly want to go on a hike – maybe all the indicators are telling you that you shouldn’t. Looking back on my decisions and seeing comments about the conditions post time period i would've been hiking - I saved a search and rescue team some money.
Stay safe, Narelle
PS: If you're interested, I was planning on hiking the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia.
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