After you have gained a full picture of what risks you’ll be dealing with on your trip, you can then formulate your risk and emergency plan. In order to do that, educating ourselves around risk can build our confidence and mitigate the real risks we might face. For backpackers of all backgrounds and experience levels, the best thing you can do for your own safety is planning and preparedness.
Before diving into this post, read up on the basics of risk management and safety in our previous post, which will lay the groundwork for this discussion. In this post, we’ll get into more detail about specific concerns as well as creating your risk mitigation plan.
In our last blog post, we talked about how to identify risks and introduced the idea of each major risk as a (metaphorical) lemon. Consider creating a document with a list of risks and how severe the risk is (i.e., how...
Risk management is one of the most important elements of planning for backpacking trips. Whether it’s your first trip or your two hundredth, spending time thinking through the hazards you might encounter and what you’ll do about them is essential both for your own safety and for those with you.
While you can never completely eliminate risk, appropriate planning means you will be more prepared if something bad does happen. Having a safety plan can mean big wins like smarter decision making, shorter time to receive rescue assistance, or the ability to handle the situation on your own without needing outside assistance at all.
Let’s dive into principles of risk management in backpacking and how you can manage your safety proactively and mindfully.
The first step to managing risk is thinking through and understanding what risks will exist on your trip. Thorough risk...
After a challenging day of backpacking, many people experience soreness around their hips. While sore hips are an extremely common problem for hikers and backpackers, the pain can put a damper on the rest of the trip. Thankfully, there are solutions! Let’s talk about what causes sore hips, then we’ll break down what you can do about it.
Our hips are key for powering the action of walking. They propel our legs forward and keep us stable and balanced. When you spend a long day out walking in the mountains, that adds up to a lot of hip exertion.
But it’s not just the long days. Backpacking adds another key ingredient: weight. Most of us don’t carry around 20-30 extra lbs for hours (or days!) at a time, but that’s exactly how we’re spending our days out on the trails. Our hips have to work much harder to power us with that much extra weight.
I recently had a last minute chance to sit down with Martha Rosenstein of Alaska Public Media and the Outdoor Explorer Podcast to have a discussion about transitioning from Summer to Winter. This is a big transition across the hemisphere - and feels a little extra dramatic up here in Alaska where you can blink and fall is already over! We discussed some different ways that can make the transition feel less drastic and more sustainable, you can see the list of topics below!
Closing out the episode, Martha chats for a bit with Heather Caldwell - a psychotherapist that practices in both Alaska and Colorado. Heather shares some more perspective on how to make a seasonal transition, you can check out more about Heather and her practice here.
The Tutu Test came together after one of this year's Ski Babes asked for some help identifying if she was using her outer glutes or not.
I had just taught a Halloween Ski Babes workout in costume (sweaty ballerina) and realized how helpful it was to be wearing a tutu when demonstrating proper hip alignment!
And so the Tutu Test was born. :)
The goal of the Tutu Test is to help you identify if your outer glutes are doing their part in stabilizing your hips.
And if they're not, I've got techniques in this video to help them pick up the slack.
When you're able to activate your outer glutes, you take some of the load off your IT Bands (if you have a chronically tight IT band this might be part of what's happening).
You'll also have better luck keeping your knees in alignment over your ankles, which is a huge part of helping prevent knee...
How are your knees these days?
I've got a couple friends who are struggling with knee injuries at the moment, so the subject of healthy knees has been heavy on my mind. I know how devastating it can be to have a knee injury - or an injury of any kind, for that matter - so I'm hoping today's video will help you assess the health of your knees and more specifically assess if you're at risk for an ACL injury.
This is a personal passion topic for me, because when I was in High School, I tore BOTH of my ACLs with a couple months of each other.
It was a low point for me, for sure (Read: I was heartbroken). But luckily my surgeries went well, I was able to rehab and re-strengthen successfully, and I've been able to be as active as I want (including playing rugby, running, skiing, backpacking, etc.) with no issues ever since.
My experience has made me super passionate about helping other people PREVENT injuries like mine, though, which is what the video I...
Hip soreness during and after a long day backpacking can be a real bummer! It's a very normal occurrence, though, due to the stress we put our hips under when carrying our camping gear & food weight around in our backpacks, all while hiking around the mountains.
With a heavy pack, the weight's got to go somewhere... and in the process of trying to save our shoulders, we might be passing on the problem to our hips. The good thing is that our hips, more than our shoulders, are designed to carry weight. But sometimes after long days of this kind of thing, the hips also get tired, achy, and sore.
I've been personally having problems with sore hips after long backpacking days, and when I mentioned the issue to my friend & Physical Therapist Shasta Hood, he said to try thinking about it as an IT band issue. When we tighten our backpack's hip belt, we're also pressing at the area that the IT band moves through, in effect shortening the IT band.
I was on the heels of a bad breakup with a man I thought I was going to spend my life with, and my sense of self had crumbled. I moved out of Skagway, AK (pop 800) to Valdez, AK (pop 4000) to get some space, begin the healing process, and rebuild my identity. The move to Valdez was spurred by the offer of an exciting job running the town's one gym, and I jumped right in.
Winter in Valdez, Alaska
At the same time, I was working on my master’s degree in Social Work -- thank goodness for distance learning! The final requirement of that degree was a 500-hour practicum, which I began at Providence Valdez Counseling Center.
I’d be working with Personal Training clients on their fitness, and with just a bit of...
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