Traveling Safely

Some general guidelines when traveling the backcountry:

  • It is always safer to travel with a companion or group.
  • Get in shape before setting out. Good physical conditioning is essential to traveling the rigorous Colorado Trail. Even those in top condition can be adversely affected by the high altitude, however, and should acclimatize, especially when coming from much lower elevations. (See the Altitude and Acclimatizing page on this site.)
  • File a hiking plan with friends or loved ones, and check in often with revisions, so that unnecessary searching can be avoided if something should go awry.
  • Cyclists with deep shin gash.
    If you are solo, and are injured along the Trail, remain on the Trail and wait for help to arrive. If you are with someone who is injured along the Trail, apply first aid and make the person as comfortable as possible before leaving to seek help. Leave extra clothing, shelter, water, food, etc., with the injured party in case it takes a long time for assistance to arrive. If you have GPS, make note of a waypoint to aid rescuers. Cell phone service is spotty all along the Trail, but you can sometimes access the 911 system even if you do not have cell service.
  • Learn basic first aid for your own safety and that of others.
  • Guard against fatigue. Pushing yourself in rugged terrain invites disaster.
  • Long-distance hikers of all ages swear by trekking poles, which can aid in maintaining balance and in negotiating steep slopes and tricky terrain.
  • Store your food out of reach of wild animals or in bear-proof containers outside your tent or tarp. (See the Food Storage page on this site.)
  • When selecting a campsite evaluate visible risks that, for example, involve possible flooding and hazard trees, etc. Here’s an Outside Magazine article about hazard trees.
  • Frequently assess your well being as you travel the CT and, if warranted, attend to your needs. Even an untreated, bad blister can severely impact your health and trip.

Mountain Safety is No Accident (good tips from Search & Rescue)