Cold and Exposed: Five Essential Tips Every Hiker Must Know About Surviving in the Cold

Every hiker’s worst nightmare is being stranded cold and alone in the depth of the woods. Few people know how they’ll react or survive in such extreme conditions. By following a few tips and tricks, you can ensure that you are prepared with the essentials for combating the cold.

1. Building a Shelter

Constructing a shelter is the first way to get out of the cold and reduce your exposure. The most common type of shelter for this circumstance is the lean-to. Constructing a basic lean-to with branches and shrubbery will protect from wind, rain and snow. In order to insulate and keep generated heat inside the lean-to, be sure to pack snow around the exposed areas. This will create a shelter that will protect from most of the elements you’ll experience in the cold. Another great tool for shelter is the use of a fallen tree as cover. This requires expending less energy in gathering resources, but does require energy to dig a hole out from under the fallen tree.

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Mastering the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail, also known as the A.T., runs approximately 2,200 miles, from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Managed by the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, this trail meanders through wilderness, across rivers and through some towns. The greatest challenge associated with the A.T. is the “thru-hike,” or an attempt to hike the whole way during just one season. If you are looking for an adventure that will let you see a great deal of the beauty of America, and you have a period of months to dedicate, then check out these tips about making it all the way from northern New England to the Old South.

Appalachian Trail


There are some people who ship packages to themselves containing supplies, picking them up at small post offices along the way. However, the A.T. gives you access to quite a few towns with stores as you go, so you don’t need to worry about figuring out mailings. This way you can shop as you go, for most of the route. The only places where you might think about shipping packages is to the post office in Fontana Village, North Carolina (which also offers a place to stay and do your laundry), and to the Kincora Hostel, in Dennis Cove, Tennessee.


You’ll find almost 300 shelters along the trail, but they can get loud and crowded; the most seasoned thru-hikers recommend putting up tents instead. They are good places to stop and get the news about conditions up the trail, mooch some provisions from the short-term hikers, who are usually glad to dump the weight, and check out the shelter’s log to read the adventures of others.

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Hiking in Peru

When people think of Peru the first thing that comes to people’s minds is Machu Picchu; some might know about the Inca Trail but beyond this Peru’s hiking routes are almost completely unknown. Just in the Cusco area alone there are a wide variety of routes that can easily be hiked without much pre-planning or preparation. To give you a taster here are some of the more common routes that are hiked by tourists.

The Inca Trail

This is Peru’s most famous hike and combines a wide mix of stunning scenery, visits to Inca archeological sites and the opportunity to see a variety of flora and fauna including many species of orchids that flourish in the Machu Picchu National Park.

Starting out from the Sacred Valley of the Incas and finishing at the Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu this hike covers 41.5km / 26 miles of intact Inca Trail over a period of 4 days; the route passes by high mountains and through the enigmatic cloud forest that surrounds Machu Picchu eventually bringing you directly in to the city itself via the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). There is a limit of about 180 people (500 people in total including support staff) who are allowed to hike each day so Inca Trail permits need to be booked several months in advance to guarantee a place. Hikers need to book with either a licensed tour operator or guide to be permitted to enter the route.

The Salkantay Trek

salkantaypanorama2If you missed out on booking a spot on the Inca Trail then the Salkantay Trek is the most recommended alternative route to bring you to Machu Picchu. Starting from the small village of Mollepata the path slowly works its way up to the base of Salkantay (The Savage) mountain before crossing the high pass (4621m / 15160ft) and heading down in to the lush valleys that surround Machu Picchu.

The route is considered to be one of the most spectacular on offer in the region passing beneath several peaks that tower over 5300m / 17388ft each. The highest peak is Salkantay itself which at 6271m / 20574ft is the highest peak in the region and the 38th highest peak in the Andes. In contrast to the high peaks, the route also passes through an area of verdant highland jungle in which a wide variety of birdlife can be spotted.

Covering a distance of  82.5km / 51 miles over a period of 4 days and with a 5th day to visit Machu Picchu this is quite a demanding route, especially considering it is undertaken at altitude. The path itself is very easy to follow and with obvious camping spots. Many people opt to hire local arrieros (mule drivers) in Mollepata to carry their gear as they not only ease the load but also serve as a guide to show you the way.

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Hike Yosemite Falls Trail

Yosemite_Falls1Yosemite National Park has many hiking trails for one to explore and conquer. This well groomed hiking trail will take you to the top of Yosemite Falls and it makes for a great day hike. Yosemite Falls is a waterfall that is one of the tallest in the world. It is a moderate to strenuous hike that will take about 3-4 hours to make it to the top.

The trail head begins near Yosemite Loge and the 7.2 mile (round trip) trail is full of switchbacks that puts the trail in shade and sunny areas. There are several lookout points along the way that will give you memorable views of Yosemite Valley and many of its known landmarks. It is 3.6 miles of hiking trail that is pretty vertical, but worth the effort. Even a child, who is in good health and shape, will enjoy hiking this trail.

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Hiking in New York City

What! That’s what about 98% of the readers just yelled, and they’re right to first think this is a crazy idea. But it does make sense if you are a hiker that can’t get out of the city, a visitor that is in the city for a few days, or someone that likes to walk and wants something entirely different.

New York City is a very interesting place where every neighborhood offers something different and also happens to have one of the coolest parks in the world – Central Park. Everyone goes to Central Park, and that speaks volumes about the human need for nature. In a place that has the best museums, restaurants, theaters, music venues, conferences, and architecture, folks still go to Central Park.  With everything New York has to offer, the natural world provided by the park is still one of the most popular attractions.

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Ozark Highlands Trail : Hiking in Arkansas

If you are looking for just one backpacking trip in Arkansas then the Ozark Highlands Trail is just what the doctor ordered. This 165 mile trail stretches across some of the most terrific sights and views the state has to offer. Add to this the fact that it is one of the south’s best kept secrets and you are going to be looking at a stretch of beauty and solitude seldom matched.

The Ozark Highlands Trail also serves as a spine of sorts to a host of smaller trails throughout the northwestern part of the state including many in the famous Ozarks. Covering so much scenery it is bound to be a draw for smaller day hikers from Lake Fort Smith, the Ozark National Forest, the Buffalo National River, the Ozark Mountains and the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area. Along with this wealth of beauty served up on this premier trail in the Natural State you will also find a lot of history from homesteaders to Civil War to American Indian and old west outlaws. Keep your eyes open for historical markers along the trail.

Be sure to plan your trip toward the White Rock Mountain lookout for the best sunset view in Arkansas and bring along your extra socks for more than 60 creeks, streams, rivers and a whole ozarks1-byOakleyOriginalslot of waterfalls.

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Three North Dakota Trails You Must Know About

Hikers are always searching for new trails as uncharted terrain presents a novel challenge.  If you’re a hiker in North Dakota, here are three trails you can try treading your hiking boots on.

Ackenbach Trail – Located in Southwest North Dakota

Ackenbach TrailThis trail is recommended for hikers who prefer scenic routes. As you tread the path, you get to see the famous Ox-Box. In addition, the terrain is rugged and steep and goes along the Little Missouri River. The river provides thirsty hikers a refreshing water break.

The geology of the trail itself is a mini-zoo with antelopes, buffalos and the occasional rattlesnake. It is definitely a natural feast for the discerning hiker’s eye.

When you finish this route, you will end up west of Lake Sakakawea and north of Medora. The trail is a 100 miles long.

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Hiking Chilnualna Falls in Yosemite National Park

First Waterfall
First Waterfall

Distance: 8.2 miles
Elevation gain: 2,300 feet
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous
USGS Topo Maps: Wawona; Mariposa Grove
More information:

Directions: From the south entrance to the park (16 miles north of Oakhurst on highway 41), drive 4 miles on Wawona Road to the town of Wawona, and take a right on Chilnualna Falls Road.  Drive 1.7 miles and park on the right side of the road.  Cross the road and access the single-track trail.

The hike: Located in the southern part of Yosemite, Chilnualna Falls offers solitude not often found in the more popular areas of the park.  The trail ascends parallel to Chilnualna Creek, and gives hikers great views of three different waterfalls.  The first happens almost immediately.  The trail ascends a steep staircase next to the cascade.  Following this, it switchbacks to a meadow, half a mile in.  Here, views of nearby Wawona Dome (elevation 6,897) open up.  False trails lead to the left and right; the main path crosses the meadow (seemingly diverging from the main trail) into a grove of tall pines.  If you find yourself descending, you have taken the wrong direction.  (Guess how I know!)

Lower Tier of Chilnualna Falls

The trail continues at a lesser grade through the pines, through another meadow and then begins some more switchbacks.  At about two miles in, a clearing offers great views of Wawona Dome, and soon afterward, the lower tier of Chilnualna Falls can be seen.  The trail continues along the south face of the ridge, with great views of the valley below, eventually climbing another stone stairway to reach the lower tier of the falls.  From there, you continue to the ascent to a trail junction.  Here, you can scramble down the rocks to Chilnualna Creek and see the upper tier of the falls, which cascade down a series of six drops into a clear pool.  If you are careful, you can get close to the waterfall and enjoy great views of the valley as well.

About the author:
David Lockeretz is an avid hiker based in Long Beach, CA.  He is the founder and chief author of L.A.’s newest hiking blog,  When not found on the trails, he is a musician and music educator, founder of the music instruction networking site

5 Things to Consider When Hiking with Kids

Now that summer is in full force, many of you hiking enthusiasts have brushed the cobwebs from your gear and hit the outdoors.  For those with families, preparing for trips can be difficult and requires a lot of brainstorming – not just where to go, but also what to bring.  From prepping your gear to preparing for the weather, planning a trip can be time consuming and frustrating.  Who knows, maybe your wagon looks like the Griswold’s!

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