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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 5:48 am | Fair 50º


Captain’s Log: Stay Safe And Secure on The Trail

“Where is your Dad?” a backpacking buddy asked in a worried tone during a backpack through the national forest.

We had been on the trail for hours and my Dad has taken the rear position. One friend began yelling for him.

I chuckled and said, “He’ll catch up with us later.”

This seemed to be risk-taking at its gravest — except with my Dad. You see, he grew up as a mountain man in Washington State.

In his pre-teens and early teens he would pick up his pack, traps, carbine, knife and canteen on his way out of the mountain cabin he shared with his Mom, then stay out in the woods for weeks and sometimes months at a time.

He came home with pelts for sale, fresh meat and plenty of stories to tell.

A half-hour up the trail, in dense woods, my Dad suddenly appeared at the rear position again. When a couple of people gave him a tongue-lashing for worrying them so much, my Dad recounted their exact conversation during the time he as missing.

That man was so good in the woods that no one could tell he was within earshot of us the whole time. I just smiled. My Dad had pulled that one on me many times.

My Dad taught me to prepare. Safety, first-aid and navigation equipment should be requirements before hitting the trailhead. Everyone in a backpacking or day hike group should have a topographic (topo) map of the area with the planned trail clearly marked.

Along the way, the lead person should verbally note landmarks that are visible on the topo map. That way, should any person be separated from the group, he or she will have a much better idea of current location.

A compass is a required item and it sure helps to have a group exercise in compass use for novice navigators. Smart phones can help with navigation, but are limited to cell phone reception areas. A satellite phone can get a signal almost anywhere.

For those with extra money to spend, a Personal Locator Beacon device will broadcast your position to aid the authorities in finding you.

A first-aid kit belongs in everyone’s pack. So does sunscreen. Keep your canteen with you and stay sufficiently hydrated to keep your wits about you. If you have allergies, bring along some allergy medicine.

A day on the trail can be a hoot and a holler — providing you are prepared for all eventualities.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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