You have your pack all packed up tight. Your gear is organized and you have made sure to try it on so that the load is distributed comfortably. But are you sure that you have everything that you need for your first backcountry trip? Here is a little checklist to ensure that you are stepping off with the right foot on your journey into the wilderness. After all, failure to plan is planning to fail and we are planning to succeed.
Plan of Action
First and foremost you need to make sure that you lock in exactly where you are going and how long you plan on being in the field. Make sure you consult a map and do some research. Make sure the route you are taking is passable this time of year, perhaps the trail was washed out in a recent rainstorm or a river is impassible due to spring runoff. Call the ranger station and get the most up-to-date information on the location you are heading. Be sure to tell others where you are going, where you plan on setting up camps and when you plan on being back. This way if something happens and they need to find you, they have a general idea where to start looking. They also will know when they need to start being worried about you. There are a lot of perils out there so doing this simple step may save your life and the lives of those that are out trying to find you in an emergency.
Map and Compass
In order to get plan this trip out and to operate safely in the backcountry, you are going to need to a map and a compass. You are also going to need to know how to use them, and well. No matter where you are going you are always going to need to have the means to get yourself out. Sometimes trails are not marked as well as you might have thought and what you once thought was a trail turns out to be nothing more than an ever-narrowing game trail that dead ends and now you are lost. With a map and compass, you will be able to correct yourself and get back on track. I will, however, say again, it does you no good to have a map and compass if you do not know how to read them, so take the time and learn before you go.
Part of collecting this information is that you need to have an outline for a trip and literary when you apply for a backcountry permit. There is a small fee you will have to pay when you register your trip and apply for the permit with the rangers. They only give out so many a day so you will want to plan ahead and get your information to the rangers as soon as possible. With this permit, you will also be given information about the area you are heading and up-to-date maps as well. This way you can make changes to your trip if need be based on the ever-changing conditions.
You packed all the essentials now just make sure you have the basics in order to head out safely in the backcountry. You need a means to get in and out safely, so do your part to make yourself and your party safe.