Backpacking – Importance of Planning

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 22,705
    Backpacking Instructor Joe Gareri discusses the importance of proper planning for a backpacking trip.

    Joe Gareri: Hi, my name is Joe Gareri and I am with the Backpacking committee of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, which is one of the founding clubs of the Appalachian Trail; that long distance hiking trail that goes from Georgia to Maine. Today we are going to talk about backpacking. We will discuss the importance of proper planning and the elements of successful planning and then we will talk about some resources and some differences that may take place on a longer backpacking trip versus a shorter trip. Backpacking is a recreational activity, but it is not without risk. Planning for backpacking trip takes place long before you hit the trail. Planning is something that takes place around the table and not around a camp fire. I have been teaching backpacking for 10 years with the Potomac Appalachian Trail and I have over 30 years backpacking experience. Backpacking is something that can be learnt by any one of any age and any ability. It is the only way to get us to the most remote areas of our country and backpacking is a great way to just get out and enjoy the scenery. So let us get started and plan this backpacking trip. There are several incentives to plan. First and foremost, it protects the member's safety and also ensures that there is a more enjoyable trip and it helps to sort of everyone to know what to expect, what they are going to encounter and for people to have an opportunity to explore areas that they may not have been able to get to before.

    Backpacking is a recreational activity that people do for fun and in planning for backpacking trip, one of the goals is to maximize the fun. So proper planning helps to ensure that and it also guards against search and rescue or damages to land. Well, backpacking really is one of those things that is only limited by the amount of time that you have and your stamina and just like a long distance runner, it does not start off by running a marathon, they start off by running doing short runs. backpacking is much the same way and it is best to get out there and get the experience on an overnight trip before you go on an extended trip and the amount of equipment that you carry really does not change all that much. Equipment is -- we teach our backpacking course at Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, we spend 75 minutes just on clothing and there are some critical components to the clothing that are important regardless of weather and time of year, but it is like anything else, it is that there is a lot of information out there and doing research is so critically important.

    We are fortunate that there are also sorts of resources out there for folks. There are great websites that are put together by Trail Clubs; the Potomac Appalachian trail Club has its own website. It is very decent than other hiking clubs on both coasts and in the south and in the north have great sites. There are classes that could be taken. There are backpacking classes that are offered through local hiking clubs such as the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, but also through outfitters. Then there are resources that are there by going to a local library and just looking around and looking at various guidebooks and there are guides for planning, how to hike the Appalachian Trail, how to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and how to hike in the national forest.

    In addition to taking a backpacking class, I would highly recommend taking a back country or a wilderness first aid class and those can be found through searches on the internet. Potomac Appalachian Trail Club teaches a class in backcountry first aid that is really different than a class that maybe or what we would call the fun country where you can call 911 and an ambulance shows up in two minutes. It is real different being in the backcountry where you need to rely on the knowledge that you gain from a backpacking class.

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