The beaches, mountains, and forests of the Pacific Northwest are a hiker's heaven. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of day hikes available for all skill levels and in all types of terrain. No matter how short or long the hike, The Mountaineers list ten essential items that should come along every time. The most obvious items are, of course, food and water. They recommend that each person bring one quart of water for a five-mile hike, more for longer trips. A flashlight with extra batteries, a map in a waterproof pouch, and a compass will help you find your way. Sunglasses and extra clothing will keep you safe and healthy. The final "must-haves" on the list from The Mountaineers are a first-aid kit, a pocketknife, waterproof matches, and a candle or fire starter. Additional modern conveniences that should be included if you have them are a fully-charged cell phone, a two-way radio, and a GPS unit.
A basic first-aid kit and an understanding of common first-aid techniques are necessary. REI's advice on choosing a first-aid kit includes a list of essential items, as well as extra items that can be included for longer trips. The basics to pack along are bandages, drugs such as aspirin, lotions and creams such as an antibiotic salve and sunscreen, a first-aid manual, and tools such as tweezers and a razor blade. Bee-sting and snakebite kits should be included when necessary. Add-ons that will increase the versatility of your kit are more types and sizes of bandages, an itch/rash cream, and tools such as a splint, a sling, and a thermometer.
What if you get lost?
If worst comes to worst and you find yourself lost, REI suggests that you remember the acronym S-T-O-P - stop, think, observe, and plan. When you realize you are lost, stop where you are and don't panic. Think about where you were at the last point where you were confident of your location. If you can identify such a location and know how to return to it, do so, then stop again and reassess your situation. If not, stay put. Carefully observe the terrain and landmarks around you. Is anything familiar? Are there any immediate dangers? Are there any useful items about? Finally, make a plan. Discuss it with your companions, or out loud if you are by yourself. Follow your plan, repeating the S-T-O-P cycle as the situation changes. If you are at a complete loss for how to proceed, and there are no immediate dangers, stay where you are.
The Great Outdoor Recreation Pages, or GORP, cites seven common threats to persons who find themselves in an extended survival situation. The items on the list are boredom and loneliness, pain, thirst, fatigue, temperature extremes, hunger and fear. Similar items are mentioned in the FM 21-76 US Army Survival Manual (compare prices), available both on-line and at bookstores. This manual is full of information and instructions for people in either short- or longer-term survival situations. A copy of this book, or one like it, would make a valuable addition to the hiking essentials that you pack along.