27 Hiking and Backpacking Tips
Adventuring problem free in Arizona and Four Corners is fairly
simple. Break the rules.
I've been doing this for years and I have never had a major problem.
but I use every single
tip Ive written here every single time I venture out on my own. As an inner
city rape crisis counselor in Kansas City for three years working with the Sheriffs
Department both as a counselor and self defense instructor, I learned to handle myself in
the city. As a Rocky Mountain and Sonoran desert person, I learned a whole new skill
set. Some of the lessons were learned and
earned the hard way. Love what youre
doing and where you are going. No one will
deprive me of going on my trips So far, so good.
Enjoy your journey. I love the Southwest, its people, rugged country, vistas and
exciting discoveries. Understand the ground rules. Use the knowledge, take a deep breathe
and enjoy it all... in safety. Solo can be so much fun, it's worth the extra
responsibility. Maybe that's the reason I love it so much. It makes me
ultimately responsible for myself. Bon voyage. I hope to meet you on your
trail of discovery.
confident. People can spot a
victim posture a mile away. Heads
up, shoulders back, stand straight, and look those you meet on the trail in the eye. Take
a mental snapshot of who they are and size em up.
honest about your capabilities. Do
not over estimate what you can do. If youre out of shape, plan for your trip by
taking the time to exercise and build your stamina.
alert to the people in the area. If they look questionable, move on to
another place. Its better to lose a moment than your life or a moments peaceful
sleep. Nothing is worth that hassle. Be judgmental.
aware of your surroundings. Know what your resource base is such as water, secluded spots, firewood and shade. Plan your
fastest escape route.
your keys handy and dry. Most of us have battery activated locks. If
they get wet, you can't shut off the alarm OR start the car. Either use the manual lock or
keep an extra set safely tucked under the drivers side or behind the tire..out of sight.
check-in-points, if possible, such as ranger stations or reservation police stations.
They will know where you are, what you are doing and be there to help if you really need
them Places like Grand Gulch have a check point asking for number in party, date of
departure and expected date of return. Use it.
sure your car is as close to problem free as possible prior to leaving for your
destination. Check the oil,
brakes, transmission fluid, coolant and tires. Pack
a can of Fix-a-Flat, 2 quarts of extra oil and coolant just to be on the safe
side. Have your mechanic check the car
out the day or week before you leave. Fill
your tank at every possible point. Helpless women in this environment dont play
someone a general game plan for your outing.
They probably wont know exactly where you are but at least theyll have
a general idea of your direction. When I tell
the family Im going to the rez that encompasses 125,000 acres but at at
least, its only a 125,000 acres. Youve
got a fighting chance. Go to www.topozone.com; email
them a copy. (Click on the logo to the right)
plenty of extra drinkable water. Out
here, its the one thing that can really save your life.
screen, sun screen, sun screen. And,
sun screen. The headaches of sunburning
include headaches, joint pain, dehydration and possible skin cancer. Dont take the risk. Apply it every 2-3 hours and youll be
Camp when necessary. Jeep
camping to me means sleeping inside the car and locking the doors from the inside. Period. If theres a rattlesnake warning or Im
just in a questionable area, I sleep in the Jeep. All
my extra gear goes outside. Personally, I
dont care what they take, just leave me alone.
You get the idea. They have no reason
to bother me and, frankly, it works.
maps. Dont wonder around. Its a great way to get lost out in this vast
open country. Arroyos (dry creek beds) begin
to look alike after awhile.
landmarks. Look at the horizon. Really look at it.
Peaks, valleys, saguaros,
boulders and trees. Walk a few yards and turn
around. Thats what youre going to
see on your way back. Memorize it.
Breathe. Sounds simple, doesnt it? If you feel any exertion, stop and breathe until
youre back to normal. This isnt a
race, its your pleasure cruise. Enjoy
in tune with your body. If
youre tired, stop. If youre out
of breathe, stop. If you need food, eat. If youre thirsty, drink. Sit in the coolest shade you can find until you
cool down. Your body gives you signals
layers of clothing. The desert,
no matter the season, goes through extremes. Wet,
cold, sweltering heat. You name it, you get
it here. A rain poncho, extra sweat shirts,
tee shirts, shorts, running pants (yes, I do!), sports bras are in the bag. If I dont need them, fine. If I do, Im either warm and comfortable or
cool and comfortable. Take your pick. Comfort
is the key.
Hats. Yes, theyre optionally..BUT, the hat will
protect your face and neck from sunburn. I
carry a visor and full hat..just in case.
Flashlights. You bet. This
country is riddled with caves and kivas. If
you encounter either, youre going to want to explore.
Check for snakes. Check over
hangs. And check for cactus
ocotillos grow in some of the damnedest places youve ever seen. Ive personally found them inside caves here
well out of sunlight. Their spines will
penetrate your boots or sneakers. Beware.
Gloves. Sometimes, youll need gloves to protect
yourself from the plants. Catsclaw acacia is found near the limestone rims of many mesas
will chew your arms and legs up. Manzanita,
equally thorny, is everywhere. Cholla, ocotillo, fish-hook cactus, saguaros are
in abundance. Enjoy where you are but be
prepared for what the desert offers.
and water sources, while beautiful, attract animals. Meeting a mountain lion. javelina, bear or coyote
on the trail would be a real treat but, if you startle the animal, the tables can swiftly
turn. These are wild animals and it is
THEIR HOME. Were the visitors. Be a good guest.
with a firm step. Wildlife is
wildlife. Let them know ahead of time that
youre coming, I promise you, theyll get out of your way unless theyre
rabid or starving.
smells. Avoid them. The fragrance of cooking food in the outdoors to
hungry predators signals dinner time. Yours and theirs.
Keep it to a minimum. If they
approach, give it to them without an argument and walk away, quietly and cautiously.
Youll go home. This is THEIR home and
anything goes. Bow and step aside. Never
leave food out at camp. Put it in your trunk or car. Roll up the windows and
Snakes. Step on top of logs, not
over them. Lots of snakes hide under the logs
for shade and protection. Dont make
your leg a sudden target and threat. If
you rock climb, test the ledge above you before you pull up face-to-face with an angry
can hold a strike poise for up to 30 minutes without making a sound. Just because you do not hear them does not mean
they are not there. The Hopi Reservation has
Hopi rattlesnakes which are small, pink dust colored and love the cool shade
of flat rocks. They hide underneath them so
well you cant see them unless they move.
aware of where and what you're walking on. If you investigate a cave or
kiva, take a flashlight, toss a couple of rocks in and listen. Reptiles, such as
snakes and Gila monsters, as well as bats and insects, will tell you if they're home as a
general rule. Enter cautiously. Remember, baby rattlesnakes are
often more toxic than adults. Adult rattlesnakes will many times bite
without releasing venom, sometimes called a "dry bite'. The babies, on the
other hand, are protecting their lives and give you all they've got. One of my
Scottsdale neighbors died after picking a little one up..across the street from his house
near Camelback Mountain. The toxin took 4 hours to kill him Beware. Rule
of survival: look, listen, move with caution. Then look again.
They call it camouflage for a reason.
hands in dark crevices, please. If you're bitten, don't panic. Calmly
use the suction cup to clean the wound and get to your car for help. The best advice
is exercise utmost caution before proceeding into any enclosure no matter how inviting or
exciting. If it's unavoidable, and sometimes that's the case, use a stick to prove
the cracks before you place your fingers into unknown territory.
and lift rocks away from you. Gila
monsters, snakes, spiders, scorpions and various other rock lovers may have made it their
Take the Survival Kit
with you. (Click here to go to that page
if you've missed it) It's only a fanny pack filled with things you might need.
If you need any of it, it's a gift and could help you save your life. Weight: less than 2
Map of Arizona
Map of the reservations and Four Corners