This fire hit us hard for a few reasons. The first, was because it was our home. Seeing the Gorge on fire was and still is like watching out backyard burn before our eyes. The second, a group of over 150 hikers became trapped by the fire while on the Eagle Creek trail. And third, this could have been us.
A week before this fire began, the I'd Hike That crew went hiking on the Wahkeena Falls trail with a toddler and 10-month-old in tow. We were just a few minutes drive from where the fire began. We could have easily been in that group of hikers, on that fateful Saturday afternoon.
We shared this article on our Facebook page, about the experience of some of the hikers stuck on the Eagle Creek trail during the fire. Initially, I shared this article because I thought it would be beneficial to the hiking community. But I have since realized that this article was beneficial for me. I needed a wake-up call.
It is always a good idea to have a waterproof map or a way to keep your map dry in case it rains. It can also be helpful to have a GPS on hand. And last but not least a compass. Now, having a map and a compass will only be helpful if you actually know how to use them. I admit, I do not know how to use these items and I plan to take a class and learn. (Remember, I said this fire has been the kick in the pants I needed to learn these important skills.)
Don't forget to protect your lips. Make sure you have a chapstick with sunscreen in it. Bring a hat to protect your head and face from the sun. A bandana could also be used for sun protection, plus a ton of other things.
Dress in layers. Always bring an extra pair of socks, in case yours get wet. Also, an extra change of clothes can't hurt. It is also a good idea to have some rain gear. A poncho is a light weight option and hardly takes up any room.
In case you get caught in the dark, flashlights and headlamps are a very good thing to have on hand. It is also a good idea to bring extra batteries.
Along with a first aid kit, you could add some hand sanitizer. As well as insect repellant. Bug bites are the worst! Your kit should also include a space blanket. They are lite weight, small and will help to keep you warm. If you take any medications, it is a good idea to have some on hand. Most importantly, make sure you know what is in your first aid kit and how to use it. Always replenish items after being used.
Along with a fire starter and waterproof matches, make sure you do your research and understand how to build a fire. (Another thing on my list of things to learn.)
It's a great idea to have a multi-purpose tool and or a good pocket knife. According to Anywhere at Home, duct tape can be a lifesaver!
Make sure you have high-quality trail snacks. Bring enough for the hike plus some extra in case you are out longer than expected.
In addition to extra water, you should also have a form of water purification with you. Water seems to be taken for granted, until you are without it. Make sure you have the tools you need to stay hydrated.
In case you get stuck overnight, having a form of shelter could come in very handy. Especially if you find yourself caught in the rain.
- Whistle (make sure you know the whistle signals)
- Personal locator beacon
- Mirror to signal search and rescue
- Trash bags (Pack out what you pack in. This one should be a given)
- External battery charger for cell phone
- Bear spray (depending on where you are hiking)
- Diapers, wipes and baby food/snacks (if hiking with little ones)
- Dog food (if hiking with your dog)
(Here is a great article about things you can do if you happen to get lost or stuck on the trail.)
But the thought of being stuck on a trail overnight with my toddler has me looking at this hiking stuff in a whole new way. In the article about the stranded hikers, they share that only ONE person, out of over 150 people, was prepared and had the supplies needed to stay overnight on the trail. Just ONE.
We really don't know what is going to happen, so it never hurts to be prepared.
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