“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!” ~ Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Suess
Last post, I talked about what to put in your backpack for your hike. Today’s post I’m going to talk to you about your destination and your actual hike.
Here are a few questions you need to start with:
How far do you want to hike? Long, short, overnight?
How hard do you want it to be? Hilly, level, in the forest?
What do you want to see? Rivers, waterfalls, or everything?
In the State of South Carolina all State Parks will have a registration box at the beginning of the trail, usually at a little wooden kiosk. PLEASE REGISTER!!!! This is very important for 2 different reason – First and foremost it is to help the rangers track you down if you are off hiking and don’t come back. They check the cars in the lot against the registration form. If you haven’t filled out a form they won’t come look for you! However, if you have filled out your form and your aren’t back then they can come find you. This is super important especially if you are hiking alone. Sure some trails might be busier than others but don’t chance it. Bryn said that they only have about a 40% compliance rate! No other state requires or offers this, this is one instance we are leading the head of the pack!
The second reason, and also important, is to help get funding for things that the park needs. If the park can say we can show where we have XX# of people per year that visit the park so we need to have new toilets or more parking or better trail up keep or whatever this is how they can back up what they are saying.
I have never gone to a state park in PA to hike. We had a cabin in the mountains when I was little and I remember walking through the woods but that was about it. I don’t know if other states get as much traffic in their parks but our parks stay busy.
It is always a good idea though to also tell a friend where you are going and what time you estimate your hike will take. This should be the person that is your emergency contact on the form. Not someone in your group!
A few weeks ago 2 sisters were out hiking and had gotten lost. Their Mom called 911 at 11pm in a panic. She had no idea where they were going hiking, let alone what trail. She couldn’t even say if it was NC or SC! The girls didn’t register either so no one knew where to start looking. They spent the night out in the woods. Luckily they finally found their way to a road but it was a scary experience for them I am sure. I’m sure they’ll be a lot more careful about leaving their plan with someone after this.
Another great thing that has changed in SC lately: you can now text 911 for emergency help. You can also try to text a friend for them to call 911 for you. I believe you can also text the park but you would have to check with the park where you are hiking. Sometimes though in the mountains you won’t have service available, so again don’t count on this to be your only means of getting help, register your hike and leave your plan with a friend.
Please use these tips to plan your hike to be as safe as possible. Next time I want to share with you a few tips on handling the trail as politely as possible.