First Aid on Long-Distance Hikes
Emma Roberts of Nanny Magazine recently sent me the article below on the subject of first-aid in long-distance hiking.
It is a well-written, commonsense article that first-time hikers would do well to consider.
I have a few things I would like to add. The cold, wet springtime weather is legendary amongst Appalachian
Trail thru-hikers. In fact, it is existential to the challenge. Odds are you are going to suffer through some long, cold
and wet nights. An emergency space blanket can literally save your life. They are not comfortable, but when all else
fails they can be a defense of last resort. Also, it weighs practically nothing. The outfitter at Neel’s Gap tried to get me
to throw my emergency space blanket out (probably because he wasn’t the person who sold it to me!), but I clung to
it and pulled it out at a some dire moments when I simply could not get warm.
My biggest mishap as a long-distance hiker occurred in the desert on the Pacific Crest Trail. Guidebooks had consistently
advised wearing shoes that were at least a size bigger than normal. However, I could not find any size 15 Vasque Trail
running shoes at REI. Thus I decided to try wearing size 14’s, hoping they would stretch. This proved to be an enormous blunder
and I blistered so bad that I had to have the calluses of my feet cut off to get at all the viral blisters. Ultimately I had to take two weeks
off, which meant I was rushing to get to the Canadian border that October. This dovetails with what Miss Roberts writes in the article:
Know your equipment.
Experience helps. But if you’re just getting started, the above article is a good place to start because she writes it in layperson’s terms
that will leave no room for misunderstanding this critical subject–First Aid.
Bill Walker is the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail and Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail. Walker, who is nearly 7-feet tall, is currently working on a whimsical book on the subject of height.