Even if you’re just heading out for a short day hike, the West Kootenay is a special place with some special safety considerations. Most trails are remote: up challenging access roads, with few (if any) other hikers, and no cell phone coverage.
Having the right gear in your backpack (and vehicle) will help you be prepared and stay safe. In the event of an emergency, you must be prepared to spend a night in the wilderness and self-rescue when possible.
Here are some of the things you should carry in your access vehicle:
- Enough Gas! Remember, your vehicle will use lots if your access road climbs up high.
- A spare tire in good condition, with a jack and wrench to change it
- A saw, axe, or chainsaw to deal with unexpected trees on the road
- Jumper cables and a portable car battery charger
- Winter – a snow shovel. Sand or kitty litter can help with traction too.
- Overnight trips – chicken-wire to protect your car from nibbling porcupines.
Your daypack should include the following items/systems:
- Navigation – map/compass or GPS
- Sun protection – hat, sunscreen, protective clothing
- Insulation – warm layers and rain gear, including a toque and gloves
- Illumination – headlamp/flashlight and batteries
- First aid kit
- Fire – lighter/matches and firestarter
- Repair kit – pocketknife, duct tape
- Nutrition – extra emergency food
- Hydration – extra water and purification method
- Emergency shelter – bivvy sack, space blanket, or giant orange garbage bag
- Communication – whistle, cell phone (if there is coverage), or locator beacon
- Bear spray
Things to consider bringing in the summer:
- light, long-sleeved shirt and wide-brimmed hat for sun protection
- electrolyte tablets or salty snacks
Things to consider bringing in the winter:
- extra warm layers and a change of gloves
- a hot drink in a thermos
And one last thing to bring: a buddy! It is not recommended to adventure solo. If something happens, your buddy will be there to give you a hand or call for help.
For more information on being prepared, check out the following links: