Bernia Ridge, Spain.

Are You Ready for That New Outdoors Adventure? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

We heard the young girl crying from a distance, even through the howling wind and mid-July snowstorm on Besseggen Ridge, in Norway’s mountainous Jotunheimen National Park. As we caught up with the family of five, I saw that she was maybe eight or nine years old—about the age my daughter was then—crying inconsolably and repeating one word over and over: “Cold! Cold!”

We stopped to ask if they were all right. I looked them over. The parents and two teenage boys were dressed for the extreme weather in good boots, enough insulation, and shells.

Read this and every story at The Big Outside! Please subscribe or log in now.

Get My Free Email Newsletter

Enter your email address for updates about new stories, gear reviews, and expert tips!

9 Responses to Are You Ready for That New Outdoors Adventure? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. michaellanza   |  March 9, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for that informed input, Ted. I would add that, if you go through my 5 questions above, your answers should help inform your choices about how to specifically prepare for any outing–including whether you should be prepared to spend the night. For instance, I don’t prepare to spend the night on every trail run in the mountains, but if I’m on an especially long dayhike, I bring a 4-oz. emergency bivy sack and enough layers to survive the night, if necessary.

  2. Ted Katauskas   |  March 8, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    As a search-and-rescue volunteer in the Colorado Rockies, I would add one more caveat to this list: if you are headed into the backcountry on a hike/snowshoe/ski etc., always plan on spending the night, whether or not that is your intention. That means carrying: extra food and water, a headlamp, an insulating (non-cotton) layer of clothing, a waterproof layer of clothing, appropriate footwear (no sneakers!), a first-aid kit, the means (and knowledge) required for starting a fire even in wet conditions, a rudimentary shelter (space blanket is preferable, but could be as rudimentary as a large plastic trash bag), a back-up battery for your cellphone. It is amazing how many rescues ensue simply because a hiking party set out on a day hike, and something happened that kept them out past darkness and because nobody in the party carried a head lamp, they were unable to hike out, and everybody was miserable/scared/etc. because nobody was prepared to hunker down for the four+ hours it takes to muster a nighttime wilderness rescue (unless it is the most dire of circumstances, rescue helicopters do not fly nighttime missions). Be responsible, be respectful of the wild nature you are about to experience, be prepared to self-rescue or suffer the consequences of poor decision-making!

  3. michaellanza   |  March 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Hi JZ, sounds like you were a fortunate kid. Keep the tradition going strong.

  4. JZ @ Living EZ   |  March 4, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    #4 really made me appreciate my father. 🙂 We did a lot of camping and backpacking together through Boy Scouts, and as an adult and father, I realize just how much he planned and through through this list. When we did our Philmont trip and the trails or weather threw us a curveball, his pack always had what was required, from blisters to batteries and all points in between, he had you covered. I am memorizing this list to help live up to his reputation.

  5. longlivelearn   |  January 13, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Great checklist of questions! Especially for family adventurers.

  6. Jarrett   |  January 2, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Great set of questions to ask yourself before doing any sort of adventure. The military has put me in the mind set to go out and just do it. However, if anyone else is going on a trip with me, I do a much more detailed plan.

  7. oursunnyday   |  December 29, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    As a guide/seasonal ranger, I can second your first point. Skills are certainly handy, but first-hand knowledge of the place is extremely important in some situations as well. The river we guide here in Florida in the winter has complex and intersecting mangrove tunnels, a plethora of physical obstacles, and the occasional 12ft alligator. I see rentals all the time, and have rescued more than one from bad wildlife situations/canoe flip-overs in the tunnels. It may be expensive, but there is no replacement for experience sometimes. Thanks for sharing this, we could all use the reminder to be safe as we have fun. As I tell my guests, be aware, not afraid!

    ~Leigh
    http://www.oursunnyday.wordpress.com

  8. Heather Antonacci   |  June 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    An excellent, well written piece. Lots of great points to think thru when planning a new adventure. Thank you.

  9. Keri   |  June 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Excellent article. There is a great book out called ‘Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why.’ Many times those who think they are most prepared are the ones who die when things go badly, for many of the reasons you mention above. Thanks for your insight on this topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Like This Story? Get My Free Email Newsletter!

Enter your email for updates about new stories, expert tips, and gear reviews.


Grand Canyon Hiker