Going Hiking: Tips and Tricks for First-Time Hikers

Did you guys know that even a walk in the woods for mushrooms is fraught with extreme situations? It is enough to get lost, to lose one’s bearings. Moreover, even an experienced person can get lost. Only he, unlike a beginner, will never panic and will be able to save himself!

The main rule: leaving in a hike, be sure to warn parents, comrades or rescuers MES (in the mountains, the most visited tourists, there are special control and rescue services). Assign the “control time” of return, after which you should start searching.

To avoid getting lost, you should have a map or at least a handwritten drawing of the area. Such a drawing is called a sketch. There is even a song “The rifts” written by a geologist Alexander Gorodnitsky in which he sings that “there is no map to this place, we go forward by the sketch”. When you are in the forest, pay attention to the signs. Leave “notches” on the road: a broken branch, an arrow made of stones, a piece of cloth tied to a bush can serve you and those who want to help you. Moving around the area, mark a landmark to which you keep the way, and when you have reached it – choose the next. It’s especially important in the forest: remember that people who don’t follow the route take a little wider left foot than the right one, so they make a circle unnoticed.

What to do if you have lost orientation? First of all – stop, and not run anywhere. Recollect signs of the passed way. If there is an opportunity – climb a high tree and look around. What distinguishes the area where you are (rivers, cuttings, villages, railroad, nearby factories with high chimneys, etc.)? Maybe you can see them from above. Listen for train noises, car horns, and other noises to help you get your bearings. A forest road, a tarmac path, or a clearing may lead you to your home. If you come across a fork in the road, go to a place where 2-3 paths merge into one. If you have a map or you know to the south or north of you is the goal of the route, try to determine the side of the world. Do you have a compass and know how to use it? Great! If you don’t have a compass, forest signs can help you find your direction. An ant hill, for example, is always located on the south side of a tree or hillside. But moss prefers the north side. If you meet a stand-alone stump, look at the annual rings: they are usually wider on the southern side.

In the daytime, the direction will be shown by the Sun and your watch. The distance between the number 12 and the hour hand pointing to the Sun should be divided in half. If you mentally draw a straight line through this point and the center of the dial, its end, pointing at the Sun, will show the direction to the South. At night, the stars and the Moon will help find the way. If the Moon is “young” and “growing”, at midnight local time it will be in the West, at the full moon – in the South, and in the last quarter (sickle like the letter “C”) – in the East. The Pole Star, a trusty friend of all travelers, will also help you find North. How to find it? You need to know the constellation Ursa Major (it looks like a giant bucket). Mentally draw a straight line through the two outermost stars of the scoop and plot (also mentally) the 5x distance between those stars on it. At the end of the line there will be Polaris, the year-round star.

How to make a fire?

The fire is one of the oldest inventions of mankind. If you believe the myths, it gave people Prometheus, but most likely, this gift from heaven was brought to earth by ordinary lightning. For many centuries the bonfire has been the only source of heat and light at night, the only way to cook food… Nowadays a townsman does not need a fire: there is electricity, gas, microwave ovens… And in the countryside? On a camping trip? You can, of course, take with you a kindling or a camp stove, but … What camping without a campfire!

Start a fire will help matches. Just remember to bring them and keep them in a place out of reach of moisture. This can be done with a tightly screwed jar, where you can put not even the whole box, but a few matches and a “sulfur” piece of the box. Experienced taiga hunters dip the heads of several matches in melted paraffin – such a reserve will not get wet! And if there are no matches or a lighter? You can use a magnifying glass or a lens made of two watch glasses. If you remember, that’s what engineer Cyrus Smith did on Mysterious Island. He stapled two watchglasses together around the edges with clay, filled them with water, and made a lens. Instead of clay, you can use a band-aid or conifer resin. With the help of the lens, the sunbeam is aimed at an easily flammable rubbish. It is made of absorbent cotton, gauze, fluff, crushed birch bark. One blows on the smoldering tarpaulin until a flame appears, and then makes a fire. To try to make fire with a spark from flint and friction, as the savages once did, is possible, but it is very difficult and long. So don’t forget the matches at home!

How to choose a place for the fire?

It should be away from trees and bushes and protected (if possible) from strong winds. The place for the fire (without an old fireplace) must be cleared. Use a spatula to remove about 1 square metre of turf. If the ground is peaty, the fireplace should be covered with sand, clay or damp logs. If this is not done, a peat fire can break out and penetrate deep into the soil and cause trouble (see “What to do if everything around you is on fire?”). In winter, you should shovel the snow and only then build a fire in that place. Do not make a fire under snow-covered firs and pines: when it starts to melt, the snow will fall into the fire and may extinguish it. And if you can’t go far from the trees, shake off their snow “clothes” beforehand. Campfires can be of several kinds: “hut”, “well”, “star”, and favorite fires of experienced travelers – “nodja” and “taiga” (they burn all night and do not require frequent adding wood). How these fires look like, you can see in the drawings of our artist.

Firewood in the woods is not a problem. Just don’t cut down live trees. There is a lot of dead wood and dead wood in any pine forest, and dry branches stick out on the lower “floors” of spruces (they, by the way, remain dry even when it rains). And birch bark or dry moss may serve as kindling. Make a reserve of firewood for the whole night. It is better to keep the fire until morning: it will not only give light and warmth, but also scare away predators. If you add raw twigs, grass or a few pieces of wet peat to the fire, the smoke will disperse mosquitoes.

And how to find firewood where there is no forest? In the tundra you should use dwarf birch, branches of cedar wood, tundra moss, and on the shores of the polar seas – wooden objects thrown by the sea. In the desert or steppe, thorns, bundles of dry grass, and dried animal droppings (dung, it is used as fuel by the local population as well) can serve as fuel.

Where to sleep and shelter from bad weather?

Today’s tourists, as a rule, take a tent for a hike. Modern tents are light and durable, they come in a variety of sizes and configurations. You were not in the “campaign” by choice, or simply lost your tent crossing the river? Anything can happen, after all! Then you have to build for the night or to take shelter from the weather a temporary dwelling: a tent, shelter, dugout, etc. The harsher the climate, the more reliable such a “temporary house” must be.

The simplest variant of “home” is a canopy. Fix on two neighboring trees at a height of 1-2 meters crossbar so that you have something like a soccer goal, and lean on one side to the top “plank” 10-12 poles, found in the neighborhood. Intertwine them with flexible branches for strength, and then secure a tarpaulin on top or make a roof out of driftwood. Start making such a roof should be at the bottom, so that each successive layer covered the previous one by about a third (so in homes put a roof of shingles). On such a green roof, the rain will run down without getting inside.

The basis for the hut can be a tall stump, a tree bent at a height of 1-2 meters or a small birch. Lean a few staves against such a base, fix them – and the frame is ready! For strength it can be intertwined with flexible branches and twigs, and then put on top any material that protects against rain and cold. This can be a tarpaulin, a few coats or jackets, spruce or pine lapnik, branches of hardwood. The sturdier such a roof, the more reliable your protection from the outside world. The floor in the tent should be covered with small twigs, branches or a layer of dry moss. And it is warm and soft! If you have polyethylene film, then in rainy weather it should be stretched over the shelter, and in cold weather it should be placed under the layer of tent lapnik (to keep warm).

In winter, you can hide from blizzards and blizzards in a house made of snow bricks (if the snow is thick). Such domed dwellings made of snow slabs are built, for example, by the Eskimos. They are called igloos. Mountain climbers conquering the mountain peaks do not neglect the snow building materials. Snow is an excellent protection against the cold, not without reason it is usually called a “blanket” for the earth.

How do you help a comrade?

It’s not just loss of orientation or a natural disaster that can lead to trouble and difficulties while camping. In these conditions, even a sprained leg, a scuff and malaise can turn into an extreme situation.

The main assistant will be a first aid kit. It must have the minimum necessary means for first aid (or self-help). In any first-aid kit should be scissors, a medical scalpel and tweezers (remember, with what you can get a tick out of the body?). In case of injuries and cuts you must have sterile bandages and tissues, bactericidal adhesive plaster, rubber tourniquet to stop bleeding, iodine, manganese dioxide, hydrogen peroxide. If necessary, ammonia, boric acid will help, and if you have a headache – balm “Zvezdochka”. Be sure to put in the first aid kit medicines that you take regularly. Must be in the first aid kit and balm “Spasatel”, it is good for cuts and insect bites, as well as frostbite and burns. Remember that all medication packages (or the instructions inside them) indicate HOW and WHEN to use this medicine (you can ask adults to write “medication instructions” before you go camping).

Medicinal plants can also help. Instead of iodine, you can use the stinging reddish juice of medunia (they smeared wounds after a balloon accident on the heroes of a fun book called The Adventures of Know-Nothing and His Friends). Fresh plantain or artemisia sap, or the greenish-brown pollen of the cloudberry will help stop bleeding. These plants disinfect, soothe pain, and heal wounds and can be used for cuts, bruises, and stings by bumblebees or wasps. Reed down may be used instead of absorbent cotton.

In serious cases you may need artificial respiration, heart massage. After providing first aid to the wounded (sick), you need to get him as quickly as possible to a city or town where there is a doctor: the degree of injury or illness can only determine it!