The most important things we’ve learned about hiking over the years are:

  • have a trail map (whether it is physical or a picture on your phone)
  • DO NOT go out on a hike that is way beyond your skills
  • DO NOT depend on your phone or connectivity to get you out of a pinch
  • DO NOT go somewhere you don’t know well late in the day
  • even with these safeguards, you can easily get lost- remember how to double back

In the places where we hike in New York and Maine, that may mean that you end up being considered a bit of a wuss and that is okay. Hiking in these areas can be really difficult and treacherous and you are better off to be safe than have to be rescued and airlifted out after hours of suffering.

When we hike, there are certain tools that I consider essential:

  • a hat to shield from sun and help keep the bugs away from my head and neck
  • good hiking boots that stabilize your ankles
  • a water backpack that lets me carry emergency gear, food and water
  • hiking poles

For emergency gear, I’ve refined a list based on issues we’ve had on hikes. Remember that time we were lost and it was getting dark and all I had was sunglasses? Yeah, well I don’t always carry my regular glasses now (because the hat helps shield the sun), but I do always have a small light, matches and a candle.

Here is what else I carry in my Camelbak pack:

  • a bandana that is bug repellant
  • snacks for when bloodsugar drops (usually Honey Stingers)
  • my epi-pen
  • a tiny water cup for the dog
  • a tool that has a whistle, compass, light, mirror and magnifying glass in one unit
  • tissues (that cover for TP if you need it)
  • a baggie (to carry out used tissues or found items)
  • band-aids and antibacterial towelettes
  • blister block
  • a tiny first aid kit
  • advil and benadryl
  • lip balm
  • waterproof matches and a citronella candle

And yes, I was a girl scout. And I have needed/used everything in the pack at some point except the epi-pen.