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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Off topic question. My girlfriend and I are looking to go backpacking this summer. We have a week of vaca., but realistically we won't be able to hike for a week. We are both smokers <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/sad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":("><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/thumbsdown.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":down:"> and probably don't have the endurance. We are both decently in shape, but let's be honest...We CAN"T do a whole week. Anyway, we are looking to go at least for 2 days, but we are wary (sp?) of going by ourselves. We are two young girls out in the middle of the woods. Which, of course, makes us want to go even more, because why should being female stop us? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/mad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":mad:"> However, realistically, is anyone experienced in hiking/backpacking? I think we are going to do a little of the appalachian trail, but we are both pretty uneducated on what we should have with us for safety precautions. Advice?? Thanks! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D">
 

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I live by the mountains so I go backpacking a lot. I always bring food like a trail mix and dried fruit, extra water (lots), a small first aid kit and different layers of clothes. I usually start my hike with a tank top, with a tshirt over, with a sweatshirt over that and take stuff away as I get too hot. Or vise versa. Also, make sure you have hiking boots on. The wrong shoes usually won't cut it. Good luck. I hope you guys have fun!
 

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if you're going to do the AT, there are many areas with "huts" where you can hike between them. Most of these huts are well stocked, and offer dinner and breakfast (including vegan options).<br><br><br><br>
one of the ways that is nice to travel is to do what my friend, husband, and i do. we take a car, we drive to a location, we hike, we stay in the local cabin overnite, hike again the next day. Or, we'll do some other outdoorsy thing, like kayaking or whatever.<br><br><br><br>
it's a little cushier, but you don't have as many camping concerns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks sunshine and zoebird. Zoe, do you know where I can get more info. on these huts? Thanks!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Granted this is an older book, but I would recommend that you read Harvey Manning's <i>Backpacking, One Step at a Time</i>. It's an invaluable resource. The only possibly outdated information in it is that there is newer/lighter/more comfortable backpacking equipment out there these days. So skim the gear section, and read and reread the rest! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br><br><br>
I second what sunshinemelissa said about the clothes and the boots. I can't stress enough how important good shoes are. Though, if you're only looking at two days, you'd probably not be as bad off as if you were looking at 3 days or more. Still, it's not worth the blisters and pain of less-than-perfect shoes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I do have really good hiking boots...I'm giong to try to wear them in before I go though. I will look into that book.
 

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if you go to various national park web sites, they should have camp sites, lodges, cabins, and other similar listings. I don't know the web site for the huts in the AT--i didn't make the arragements for that trip. . .but most can be found online.
 

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Here's a column in a forum at lonely planet for women travellers!<br><br><br><br><a href="http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/categories.cfm?catid=41" target="_blank">http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/ca...s.cfm?catid=41</a><br><br><br><br>
The womens column is in the so called 'Lobby' section as seen on<br><br>
the Forum homepage! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/thumbsup.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":up:"> >> <a href="http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com" target="_blank">http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com</a> <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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i am fairly well-versed in overnight backpacking and hiking. the best thing you can do for yourself is plan well and do your research! check out any information you can on the trail(s) you plan to hike and their difficulty levels. try to wear your boots in <i>completely</i> before starting off (most places tell you to wear them for a couple of hours daily, for at least three months), get good socks (two layers of socks is reccommended). also, get to know the flora and fauna of the area you'll be in. are there any wild animals you need to be aware of and prepared for in case of an encounter (up here we've got bears and mountain lions/cougars!). what about water? will you pack your own (heavy) or will you drink fresh water you find? if you are planning on drinking fresh water from streams/rivers etc. you'll want to bring some sort of water purification method with you (sometimes all you need to do is boil it, sometimes you'll want iodine drops, etc.). pack light, carry a set of clothes that will be kept dry at all times in case you get soaking wet (carry your dry set double wrapped in plastic bags), and try to practice "no trace" camping...pack all your garbage out! also, check out the rules for fires in the area. some places you're not allowed to have fires at all, so if you want to cook you'll have to bring along propane camp stove, which is more weight to be carried.<br><br><br><br>
planning well in advance is the best way to be able to enjoy your time out in the wilderness. and no, being two girls should not stop you from experiencing nature in anyway. statistically, you're probably safer in the woods than you are walking downtown! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br><br><br>
i hope you have a blast!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Once again, thanks for the advice! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> I'm so excited about going, but I am afraid! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/shocked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":eek:"> To be honest, I don't know what I would do if a bear approached, as Kreeli mentioned. And I'm sure there are plenty of animals where we are going. FYI, we will probably try to hike some of the Appalachian Trail starting in CT. Not a lot, (obviously--we aren't that experienced). But, does anyone have some more good advice on how to handle those situations?? Thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D">
 

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If a bear approaches you, you should sit down. I know it sounds funny, but standing to a bear is a sign of aggression. It's saying, "Hey, I want to prove to you that I can fight you and win!" Sitting down is showing that you will submiss to them if this makes sense. I don't really know about other animals however. Also, another thing about hiking, don't forget to pay attention to your surroundings. I don't know how well marked the trails are there or if they split to new trails. You'll want to find landmarks, so that id you do get lost, yo ucan find your way back. And don't be so worried about all the safety technicalities that you don't enjoy your excursion. Fun is the most important part.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">If a bear approaches you, you should sit down. I know it sounds funny, but standing to a bear is a sign of aggression. It's saying, "Hey, I want to prove to you that I can fight you and win!" Sitting down is showing that you will submiss to them if this makes sense.</div>
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This is half right. You want to act submissive to the bear, which can be done in several ways. As sunshinemelissa said, making yourself appear smaller will cause the bear to feel less threatened. Also make sure to avoid eye contact. Bears can perceive eye contact as a threat as well. However, staying put can lead to problems. When bears have a conflict with each other, the submissive bear will back away. You must do the same. Back away slowly, crouched down slightly (but not so much as to impede your movement), and keep your eyes focused on the ground.<br><br><br><br>
Do not turn your back on the bear, and under NO circumstances should you ever run. Running will often trigger a chase response in a bear. (If you have a cat, you may have seen this behavior before. When you throw something for them to attack, they will always give chase, even if they dont seem at all interested in the object). You will never outrun a bear a Grizzly can move as fast as a horse for a short distance, even over uneven ground. There are a number of bear pepper sprays on the market, but Ive never tried them. The best way to avoid contact with a bear when hiking is to make a decent amount of noise while you walk. This doesnt mean you have to yell all the time, just keep up some kind of conversation, or rig up pots on your bag to bang into each other. Most bears will avoid you if they hear you coming.<br><br><br><br>
If you will be camping overnight in a tent, there are a few simple guidelines you will want to follow. NEVER ever keep food in your tent. This is just about the biggest mistake people make. What constitutes food? Remember that this definition can differ between you and a bear. Black bears especially, will scavenge just about anything (as you can see at many dumps). Essentially you want to remove anything that has a scent that may make the bear curious. People I have spoken to before are often surprised to find that things such as toothpaste and deodorant can pose a threat. Gum is another thing to remove. Soap too. Never keep your pots or pans in your tent, no matter how well you think you have washed them. Bears have far better senses of smell than humans.<br><br><br><br>
When you are not cooking or eating, keep your food secured in a bag, suspended by a rope from a tree branch, no less than 100 yards from your site. Make sure the bag is at least 15 feet off the ground, and 5 feet from the truck of the tree. Also make sure that it isnt near any tree branches. Any food waste or human waste should be buried a few feet under the ground, at least a few hundred yards from your site. Refrain from throwing food in the fire as even burnt portions may attract a bear. If possible, try not to wash your dishes right in front of your site.<br><br><br><br>
Im not trying to scare you with this information, but rather I hope it serves to make your trip a safer one. I have read about a number of bear attacks, some of them in an area that I used to frequent as a camper. Almost every time people are attacked by a bear, it is because they didnt follow the simple rules I have listed above. In all the time I have spent camping and backpacking, even in areas known for their bear sighting, I have only ever once encountered a bear. Take the proper precautions and you will have nothing to worry about.<br><br><br><br>
I envy you, I havent had the time to go hiking in a while. I really miss it.
 

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I second the food advice given by Shamus. Even if you don't have bear trouble because of food attractions, you still might encounter raccoons and other such hungry and persistant animals. Raccoons have torn holes in my family's tents because they smelled food. My sister had taken a plastic grocery bag to put her dirty clothes in, and that bag had at one time held packaged food. The raccoons went after that. Major mess and repair work.
 

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You should probably find out what kind of bears are in your area and how to respond to them if you come across them. Different types respond differently.<br><br><br><br>
I've come across bears countless times while camping, and as long as you follow the advice Shamus gave you, I doubt there'd be any problems. I've never had any problems myself, anyway. Don't forget not to bring chapstick into your tent/sleep area. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> I made that mistake once... freaked me out in the morning since there were bears around camp that evening!<br><br><br><br>
A friend of mine hiked a good portion of the AT by herself (over a period of three months or so), so I'm sure the two of your are fine as long as you prepare yourselves. Does your local parks and rec not give backpacking classes? We have backpacking classes offered every season...<br><br><br><br>
Have fun!
 

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if it hasnt been said already, just remember if you pack it, you gotta carry it. so all this " extra water" does get heavy. also if you have one of those backpacks that are actually like frame backpacks, then using the waist band to put the weight on ur hips instead of ur back is really helpfull.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Raccoons have torn holes in my family's tents because they smelled food. My sister had taken a plastic grocery bag to put her dirty clothes in, and that bag had at one time held packaged food. The raccoons went after that. Major mess and repair work.</div>
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I remember waking up one night on a cycling trip, to the sounds of scuffling and scratching outside our tent. I opened the tent a crack and was greeted by a group of 4 raccoons checking out our site. Luckily they didnt damage any of our equipment. It was surprising how accustomed to humans they had become. They didnt even leave when we got out of our tents. We had to chase them before they left.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">You should probably find out what kind of bears are in your area and how to respond to them if you come across them. Different types respond differently.</div>
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Good point Mskedi. The two most common bears in North America are the Black and Grizzly. Each one should be handled differently if an encounter escalates. Playing dead with a Grizzly can sometimes work, as they rarely scavenge for food. Make sure that you are either curled up in a ball with your hands covering the back of your neck (the best position), or on your stomach. The main goal is to protect your vital organs. If the bear roles you to see if you are alive, try to end up back on your stomach again. Do not play dead with a Black Bear as they often scavenge for food, and have little qualms about eating a dead animal.<br><br><br><br>
If you are dealing with a full-grown Grizzly, you may want to try climbing a tree (that is, if you can reach it before the bear reaches you). Adult Grizzlies are too heavy for their claws to support them with regards to climbing trees. The same however cannot be said for juvenile Grizzlies, or adult Black Bears. They are quite capable of climbing trees, and quickly too.<br><br><br><br>
If it has become apparent that a bear is considering you as a food source, or if it attacks for another reason, it is best advised that you fight back. Firstly, making a lot of noise will help to confuse the bear, and hopefully frighten it. If the bear attacks, you must fight your urge to run. At no point do you want it to consider you prey. Along with making noise, jumping up and down can help to further confuse the bear (this may agitate it further, but if it is trying to harm you, you will have to take that risk). If the bear has you down on the ground and is attempting to maul you, go after its two most sensitive areas; the nose and eyes.<br><br><br><br>
A friend of mine once told me about someone he knew that was attacked by a bear. Apparently, as the bear moved in to try and take the man down, he hit the bear hard on the nose. The bear promptly broke of the attack, and after making a few more threatening gestures, wandered off into the woods.<br><br><br><br>
After all this seriousness though, I have to finish off with my favorite bear joke (as best as I can remember it).<br><br><br><br>
Two men were fishing by the side of a river, when they spotted a bear. Realizing that the bear was threatening to attack, the friends decide they had better leave. One of the men opens his pack, takes out a pair of running shoes, and begins to calmly put them on. The other man looks at him with much surprise and says Youre not going to try and outrun that bear are you? The first man looks back at him and says No, all I have to do is outrun you. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D">
 

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we carry bear spray. it's a pepper-based spray. the only problem with it is you have to be pretty damn close to the bear for it to be effective.<br><br><br><br>
bears will sometimes charge you, but then break off the charge at the last second. i could see how someone might panic and do something that would further agitate the bear in this situation, like try to run away, but the best thing to do is to just continue backing away slowly, talking calmly, until the bear loses interest or is completely out of sight. then feel free to wet your pants. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D">
 

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I just ran across this tidbit of info in shape magazine and thought it might interest you:<br><br>
Q: What should I carry in my back pack for a light afternoon hike?<br><br>
A: As the scouts sy, always be prepared. And you can be, even when carrying a small backpack. First, bring a map of the area, even if you've been on the trail a zillion times. Also, take at least a quart of wtaer and some nutricious smack foods such as nuts, whole wheat crackers, cheese (ugh!) and energy bars. Even on a short day hike, you should be prepared for weather changes; a light wind and rainshell can protect you from an unexpected shower or temperature drop. In addition, pack a small but complete first aid kit, sunscreen, bug repellent, sunglasses, hat, matches or lighter, cellphone, mace, pocketknife and a whistle, in case you find yourself in a scary situation. Finally, don't forget dtuff fun stuff like a camera and a journal<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the great advice. Shamus, you were especially helpful. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> Although, even thinking of encountering a bear makes me want to pee my pants...I know it is something I have to consider and be prepared for.:<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/shocked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":eek:"> Seriously, you guys were so helpful, you informed me on a great number of things that I have NO clue about. And, I liked your bear joke Shamus, I'll have to remember that one...<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D">
 
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