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Spring Fever? Put Together a Hiking Kit

PHOTO: A hiking guide recommends putting together an "essentials kit" to have on hand for adventures. It includes topographical maps, first-aid kit and a flashlight. Photo credit: Microsoft Images
PHOTO: A hiking guide recommends putting together an "essentials kit" to have on hand for adventures. It includes topographical maps, first-aid kit and a flashlight. Photo credit: Microsoft Images
April 23, 2013

HELENA, Mont. - The late snows in most of the state mean spring hiking will begin a little later than usual. According to expert hiker Roger Jenkins with the Montana Wilderness Association, that means more time to put together a kit that includes what he calls the "10 essentials," no matter if you're going on a day hike or a multi-day adventure.

Start with a first-aid kit, because Jenkins has found that if you hike enough, eventually, someone will get hurt. Then add waterproof matches, a knife and rain gear. Topographical maps are next on the list, and that's the one Jenkins said most people overlook.

"You can get free maps on the Internet for virtually anywhere you want to hike," he pointed out. "And learn to read a topographical map. It's much easier than a highway map, believe me."

A hat, extra clothes, a compass and a flashlight bring the list to nine items. The final item? He says that's your call. He calls it the "common sense" detail: you might want insect repellent, sunscreen or toilet paper.

Jenkins said all those items only weigh a couple of pounds. He's heard objections about the flashlight from people headed out on day trips, and he's been on rescue crews searching for day-trippers who went astray.

"And I can remember looking for some people that were way overdue and they didn't have a flashlight with them, they had missed the trail, they didn't have a good map with them," he recalled. "If you don't have a flashlight and it's pitch-black, it is scary trying to hike."

Jenkins is currently hiking in a snow-free zone in Utah.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT