Here’s Why I Won’t Get Lost on the AT
Recently, a woman from our city became separated from her daughter during just a short “walk in the woods” in the Smokies. Like many, I was carefully watching the progress of the search, hoping that she would soon be found. Tragically, she was, but no longer living.
My husband says that many friends at home have expressed their concern about me hiking on my own in the AT. I’d like to lay your fears to rest.
Are you aware of the ten essential items that are strongly suggested for even short hikes? Do you take them with you? I plan in the future to carry a modified version of most of them with me even during one- or two-hour hikes in our local county parks. These could prove to be extremely valuable on the off chance of a twisted ankle or a bad fall and no one there to help me until the next day. And if not needed? I’ve strengthened my legs a bit more and burned a few extra calories, earning me a celebratory square of dark chocolate.
Here’s the list, and photos of what I’m presently carrying:
1. Appropriate footwear.
2. Map and compass/GPS.
3. Extra water and a way to purify it.
4. Extra food.
5. Rain gear and extra clothing.
6. Safety items: fire, light, whistle.
7. First aid kit.
8. Knife or multipurpose tool.
9. Sunscreen and sunglasses.
Not intending disrespect, but it sounds as if the woman in the Smokies had none of the above items with her. Even “just” a short hike can be disorienting. In some areas, take less than ten steps away from the trail and you can no longer see it. Go around a bend and you can no longer hear your companion calling for you. Tragic.
In addition to the above, I also have the following with me:
11. Multiple IDs: driver’s license and insurance cards in waterproof case in my pants pocket and a Road ID on my wrist at all times, showing my info and emergency contacts.
12. Tarp, net tent, insulated air mattress, sleeping bag rated down to ten degrees.
13. Cell phone with Verizon service (the best you can do on the AT) and a battery pack good for four complete charges.
14. A community of caring backpackers and emergency personnel in nearby trail towns. By pushing one button on my Spot GPS communicator (which is always on me), I can have an emergency crew by my side within hours.
Again, I appreciate your concern, but please don’t worry. I’m safer here than walking in some nearby neighborhoods of Cincinnati and much less at risk than simply driving down I-75.
I’m fine, but I love you for caring.
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