With the weather already warming up and school out, summer is upon us all. During this time, I am going to be doing a narrative series about different trails that I hike around the Verde Valley.
It has been a while since I have laced up my hiking boots, grabbed a walking stick and went exploring, so after browsing websites and looking at recommendations, here is a list of the most important things to have with you when hiking. This is my opinion and only in relation to day hikes. If you are a more advanced hiker, your list could be much different, but if you are around the same level as myself, I hope this list helps you out.
Clothing: Right now, with the weather the way it is, shorts and a t-shirt are an okay way to dress for day hikes. To go along with the top and bottom, hiking boots/shoes and socks are a must. While out there, it is best to wear clothes that are not cotton. A common theme through this article is to be prepared. You never know what can happen out there, so it is best to be ready. Cotton absorbs water and can make the wearer miserable if it gets cold out. Synthetic material or wool clothing will solve that problem. Also, it is a good idea to bring sunglasses as well. It will probably be sunny and the glasses will make life a lot easier.
Clothes in your backpack: you should pack a long sleeve shirt and water-proof jacket, just incase the weather turns while you are out on the trail, or something happens and you have to stay warm. You should also keep your wallet with proper identification in your backpack.
Water: The most important thing, especially with it being as hot as it is right now and continuing to warm up, is water. Two quarts of water is suggested and it should be stored in plastic water bottles, not the bottles it comes in. Bringing along water purification tablets is a good idea as well, that way you do not have to worry about getting sick from drinking stream or river water if your water runs out.
Food: To go along with the water is snacks. Whether it be a good, old-fashioned trail mix, fruit or sandwiches that can last in the heat, this will give you an extra boost when you start to feel tired during your excursion.
Insect repellent: Nobody wants to be eaten alive by mosquitoes or other bugs that may be dwelling in the brush as you walk on by, which brings me to my next item ...
Anti-venom/ snakebite kit: Even though it may not look like it at time, Cottonwood is still a desert and in this desert, there are things that can really hurt you out there. Whether it is snakes, scorpions or spiders, sometimes one bite or sting is all it takes to leave you down for the count. If you are on the trail, this could spell disaster for you or your party, which is why it is a good idea to have this in your pack.
First aid kit: While the above entry is very specific, this is for more general scratches, bumps and bruises. A kit with different size bandages, maybe some gauze and cream should do the trick. This is something where most basic first aid kits are the same and depending on the level of hike you are going on, should predicate how comprehensive your kit is. Always remember too, if you or someone that you are hiking with has certain allergies or takes certain medicine, always bring that along with enough supplies to last a few day, again, incase something happens.
Direction: I am guilty of this and possibly others too, but I cannot remember how to read a map and use a compass. I hope it is like riding a bike, and once I start using it again, it will come back to me. It is good for everyone to know how to use these items, again, just in case something happens, or if you decide to wander off and make your own trail. It seems like everyone has a cellphone with GPS on it these days, but last time I checked, there are no chargers in the forest, and that is if you even get service out there. It is still a good idea to have your phone on you, but do not rely on it as a tool to navigate.
Emergency: While I do not plan on going on anything this intense, some day hikes can be very advanced. This is another case of better be safe than sorry. If something happens to you/your party while you are on a less traversed area, having an emergence locator is a must to hopefully ensure a quick rescue incase something happens. And having a lighter, and waterproof matches, handy is never a bad idea.
Remember, this is for day hiking. I know that if sleeping out in the wilderness is involved, the list changes to reflect the additional items needed. Do you think there is something I missed that everyone should definitely take or keep in mind while out on the trial? How about a trail that you would like to see in the paper?
Leave a comment on Verde Sports' Facebook page. If you would like to read about me hiking a certain trail, comment on the page with the name of the trail and how difficult it is. While I plan on increasing the difficulty of the hikes through the summer, I need to ease back into it. I look forward to hearing from everyone.