Hiking Tips

My purpose is to give the non-experienced hiker some ideas of what to think about when hiking in Grant Teton National Park.  I am by no means a professional and strongly suggest that you use this list as a catalyst to do your own research in order to insure your safety.  Although I follow the practices listed below, I am not suggesting that they are correct, they are merely what I do and think about before embarking on a hike.  With that disclaimer in mind, you should consider the following:

  • Know your physical limits and those in your group.
  • Take enough water.  I usually make sure that we have at least 1 quart of water for each hiker for every two hours that we will be hiking.  If it is a hot day or an especially steep hike you may need more. Don’t worry so much about the weight, it will diminish as people drink.
  • Take food, if not sandwiches (see my blog entry with regard to my favorite places to get them), then at least some form of carbohydrates to give a burst of energy. 
  • Check the weather report but don’t trust it to be accurate.  At a minimum pack a waterproof rain jacket that will also serve as a windbreaker to keep you warm.  It is uncanny how often it rains when I forget to don’t do this.
  • Learn what to do if a thunderstorm hits.  They will blow up suddenly with little warning, especially in the afternoon.  Be aware that lightning can strike several miles in front or behind a storm.  Always resist the temptation to go a bit further when you see signs of a storm approaching.  The extra view is never worth the added risk!
  • Unless you are in excellent shape, plan on your trip taking 30 minutes for every mile of varied elevation and 45 minutes for each mile of significant elevation. 
  • It is hard to go a long way uphill, it hurts to go a long way down hill!
  • Always carry bear spray, think through the process of using it, and keep it accessible for immediate use.  Bear spray in your back pack does you no good!
  • Make noise, especially when going around bends in the trail or where vision is impaired by vegetation.
  • Learn what to do if you encounter a bear.  Never run and never get close to them.  If there are cubs or a carcass in the area be especially vigilant and consider turning around as opposed to waiting until the danger leaves.  Bushwhacking off trail to avoid the bear(s) might be an option, but can easily get you lost as well.  There are many stories of people trying to do something as innocent as cutting from one switchback to another off trail and never finding their way. 
  • A moose can be equally dangerous as a bear.  Give it space.
  • It is preferable to wear some form of waterproof hiking boot, even though you will see many people with sneakers on the trail.
  • Always know where you are going.  Keep a trail map with you.