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Always read posted signs.
There just might be one from
your grandchildren!

Hiking Rules

486 words


Some common sense and ‘voice of experience’ hints
for a great backcountry experience
by Dianne Roth


Having just finished 100 solo miles of the Oregon PCT, I thought you might enjoy some of my hiking ‘rules’.

Be present. Leave home at home and enjoy your hike.

Treat your water, every drop. Some hikers don’t. Some get giardia, some don’t. Flip a coin.

Don’t trust water on the map. Carry enough water! If you are not peeing, you are not drinking enough.

When you have to pee, pee. Don't wait until you have to sneeze. 

And, speaking of peeing, look everywhere before you squat. There just might be a man in a red hammock with a great view.

Always step in the high spots. Then you don't have to regain lost elevation. 

Use poles.

When adjusting glasses, wiping your nose, or batting mosquitos, never hold your poles in front of your face. If you lightly bump a tree you could give yourself a black eye or a bloody nose. 

Keep your poles on the edge of the trail. If they continually find their way between your feet, give up hiking. 

When you don't know which way to go, sit down and eat. Someone always shows up to tell you where you are.

Choose a tent that you can pick up and move in the middle of the night when your neighbor is snoring. 

Trust me, you don't need a change of clothes in the woods.

Bring three+ pairs of socks.

Walk or sightsee. You can't safely do both at the same time.

I met Otto Perry when I was a child. He was the first person I knew who wore long underwear. He was old and his long-johns were dingy. I swore I would never wear long-johns. I changed my mind when I started hiking in the woods. Silk is best.

Do not carry dish soap, hand soap, toothpaste, shampoo, or deodorant. Talk to me privately for hygiene tips.

If you see a predator, do not act like prey. If you run away, you are acting like prey.

Always hang your food. If not for bears, for the mice.

Don’t cook, just boil water to hydrate your food. This is personal preference. I backpack with a cook whose food I covet.

Before you add boiling water to your food, use your handkerchief to do a warm water wipe of face and hands. It feels so good!

Whenever your hands are clean, floss.

Swim anytime you can.

Lick your bowl and spoon to clean. If that is not good enough, use your tea bag to clean up the goobers. Think of what is left as seasoning for your next meal.

Pack out all trash, yours and what you find on the trail.

Smile at everyone. Every stranger on the trail is part of your support system. Greet them, ask questions, offer to help if they need it. One of the great reasons to hike is all the wonderful hikers you will meet.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on September 22, 2013