Springtime Mountain Dangers

We’re barely into spring, yet this year — thanks to an extremely thin snowpack and a generally warmer average temperature — the typical springtime dangers are already making themselves known, as if spring is in full swing (which apparently it is). Let’s looks at some of the more common springtime hazards.

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Hiking in the Rain

It’s raining steadily today so I’m relaxing at home, but if the rain were lighter or the showers more scattered, I would probably head out on the trails. Some — strictly fair weather hikers — probably wouldn’t find this idea at all appealing. I, on the other hand, find some real advantages to it:

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Wilderness Compass Navigation Primer

2018 UPDATE: Since this article was first written, many things have changed for reasons of simple improvement or ease of use. In fact, this material has matured greatly since the time of this writing and there have been dozens of refinements. Take my Wilderness Navigation Course if you want to get more detailed information (compasses also available for sale on the course page). For now, two of the more important changes are as follows:

  • Book time is measured using 3 minutes per 100 feet of gain, plus 3 minutes per tenth of a mile. This makes the math a lot easier.
  • I stopped recording a back-bearing in parentheses. Instead now relying on the sheer simplicity of using “black to get to back.”

Now, here is the original article:

Two of the best ways to ensure you don’t get lost in the woods is to always know where you are and where you’re headed. If you know those two things you’re not lost. It doesn’t even matter what basic tools you use to know these two bits of information. Knowing is knowing. You might be a GPS user, and that’s okay, or you might use a map and compass only, and that’s fine as well. Since the common argument is that a GPS might malfunction or run out of power, HikeSafe recommends using a Map and Compass combination as one of the ten essentials — items you shouldn’t be without in the mountains.

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Using a Hydration Bladder in the Winter

I really like using a hydration bladder in my pack (I use a rugged 3 litre PLATYPUS system). I find it’s so convenient, I tend to stay more hydrated. In the winter, however, freezing temperatures can lead to hydration system failure — critical parts can become blocked with ice. Being a determined sort of person, I refused to let that little issue stop me. And side-mounted bottles, albeit nearly foolproof, lack appeal to me. Thus, I have come up with a handful of techniques that, when used in concert, lead to problem-free winter hydration bladder usage. It’s having my cake… and eating it, too.

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