Be safe and smart while on the trails this summer

Although the rain has washed away most of May, June is here. After Memorial Day, the outdoors start calling, which means camping, hiking and backpacking are on the schedule.

But before you head out it’s always a good idea to know what you’re doing and what to look for. Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Lassen Lands and Trail Trust have some helpful advice to prepare you for your next adventure.

Whether you are an experienced backpacker or just going out for a day hike, its good to be prepared for what ever you may encounter.

Lassen Volcanic National Park has a list of the 10 essentials when hiking: Map, compass, water, sunglasses and sunscreen, extra clothing, flashlight or headlamp. First-aid, fire starter, matches, knife and extra food.

A map and compass on long backpacking trips can save your life and simply learning your cardinal and inter cardinal directions can keep you from getting lost.
It may seem redundant but a fire starter and matches are not necessarily the same so carrying a few pieces of drier lint, or something known as “wet fire tinder” and some matches can make for easy fire on a cold night.

Clothing and footwear are also incredibly important for whatever environment you are heading into.

Taking food with you is key, but food can also be heavy on long treks so be smart about what you bring. Freeze-dried or dehydrated foods or small canned foods prove easy and reliable.

Water is also a must, even if you are just going on a small hike at Susanville Ranch Park or backpacking the Caribou Wilderness water is the first thing to bring with you or to know where to find it.

In more extreme heats you need to stay constantly hydrated and you should be aiming to get one liter of water in your system every hour. At higher altitude, and/or humid days, you should also seek shade for 15 to 20 minute breaks every couple hours to avoid unnecessary water loss.

If heading into higher altitudes, take your time. If you can give yourself a day to acclimate altitude sickness while not typically deadly can ruin your time outdoors.
If camping or backpacking weight limitations may hinder you from bringing any significant amount of water, so before you head out you should know where to find water and second bring something akin to a life straw a simple device that lets you safely drink from most water sources.

Second are your surroundings. If it’s your first time in a new area or your hundredth time in the same area, you should always keep your head on a swivel and know what is around you.

In parts of Susanville Ranch Park and the Bizz Johnson Trail landslides are always a hazard especially after heavy precipitation.

While its not often anyone will be around when it happens, but they can block trails and create other hazards such as weakened tree roots which can cause a tree to fall at any point.

Keeping your head on a swivel also means looking out for wildlife that lives in the area such as snakes, mountain lions, coyotes and even beehives and its best to know what to do when encountering some of the local fauna.

While its rare to encounter them, rattlesnakes do live in the area and simply keeping an ear out for their rattle can keep you from a trip to the hospital or worse.
If bit, it is best to limit your movement especially of the bitten area, do not put ice on it, do not use a tourniquet, never attempt to suck the venom out, and lastly keep an eye out for symptoms.

Sometimes if a venomous snake bites you it may not inject venom but simply bite you to intimidate you.

Mountain lions are a tricky predator, and while they don’t typically target humans they have been known to attack when someone enters their territory or if feel they threatened.

If you encounter a mountain lion never run away. This could trigger an attack; it is best to stay calm, hold your ground but do not approach it, keep eye contact with it and make yourself appear bigger by raising and waving your arms while making loud noises.

Another big one is if you encounter a beehive, this may sound silly but enough bee stings can lead to the hospital or worse.

If you come across a nest give it a wide berth and if it is blocking your way forward, turn around and leave it be. It’s not worth it.
If the hive does get agitated and a swarm begins to chase you run.

Run as fast as you can; most bees will stop chasing you within a couple hundred yards.

If stung, remove any stingers as soon as possible and seek medical attention immediately.

Don’t be paranoid about these things; it is always best to remember to keep calm under stressful situations.

Things to remember
If you are camping overnight it is always pertinent to clean up your camp sight of any trash or leftover food, this gives invitations to things like raccoons and even bears to invade someone’s campsite.

Last but certainly not least is whether you’re going it alone or not. It is best to never go alone when hiking, camping or backpacking. It doesn’t matter how much you know the area or how experienced an outdoorsman you may be; going alone is always a risk.

Having someone with you can limit your encounters with dangerous animals such as mountain lions, but it also increases the likelihood if something does go awry you’re more likely to get help faster.

If you do choose to go it alone remember to always tell at least two people where you are going and how long you will be gone.

For simple day hikes this may seem trivial but never assume you know exactly what is going to happen. The wilderness does not keep to your schedule.