The Mogollon Rim Country contains some of the most beautiful and a few very rugged hiking trails in Arizona. No matter if you are following a trail in a hiking guidebook or just taking an impromptu trek, returning home safe and enjoying the wilderness experience are cornerstone to your venture.

Common sense in the wild combined with bit of planning will ensure your successful hike.

In addition to trekking poles and perhaps a camera, the following ideas might well save your life should the conditions change or might you fall or have an accident.

Safety and planning can be your friend. Remember it is more than the planning and items you take with you, you are in charge of the decisions you make. Know your own limitations. Let people know where you are going. Be able to backtrack the way you came. If lost, think about how the rescue people will find you. Making wise choices each step of the way ensures you can be safe.

Day pack essentials

Water — to keep you hydrated. Take at least 32 ounces or a lot more depending on the length of your planned hike.

Food — to fuel your body: Energy bars and trail snacks are easy to carry.

First aid kit — ability to help.

Clothing for the environment or season — to keep you warm and dry. Avoid cotton.

Emergency blanket — to keep you warm and dry, and can be used to signal.

Flashlight or headlamp — plus extra batteries.

Map of the area — so you know where you are.

Fire starter, matches or lighter — to keep you warm.

Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, knife, bug spray, whistle.

GPS, cell phone or SPOT notification device.

Rim Country is beautiful country, but it is also unforgiving in rugged, remote terrain, as well as daily wide temperature extremes. The greatest life threats to outdoor enthusiasts in Rim Country are:

• Hypothermia (cold body core)

• Hyperthermia (overheated body


• Dehydration

• Making the wrong decisions

• Not knowing your own personal

limitations and listening to them

In Rim Country, these can quickly become dire, life-threatening medical emergencies.

It’s only a day hike!

Thinking is a short hike may lead to complacency with key elements of the daypack essentials — “I don’t need that jacket or that extra water.” Re-think and carry more just in case.

Plan ahead

Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Mark your trip on a map and leave a copy with a responsible person. Make sure to include what to do and who to contact if you do not return as planned.

Stick to your plan. If you decide to change your plan, notify your responsible party ASAP so that if you require a rescue, emergency personnel know where to start looking.

Set a bailout time to head back if you do not reach your destination. Some trails can be deceptively difficult.

Take extra food and water in the event you become unexpectedly delayed.

If you have car trouble, stay with your vehicle. It is much easier to find a vehicle than a person alone in the wilderness.

A satellite-based location system, such as SPOT or Garmin InReach can send preprogrammed messages and provide your coordinates in the event of injury.

Contact your responsible party as soon as you return to avoid an unnecessary rescue.

Check the weather forecast!

Outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, or horseback riding by their very nature can be potentially dangerous. It is your responsibility to obtain and know necessary skills and abilities to pursue these and other outdoor activities. Be realistic about your skills, abilities, and fitness levels that are required for some of the trails around Rim Country. This will enhance your experience.

Before you head out, know where you are going, and know the type of terrain and length of the trail. Check the weather forecast and monitor for weather changes. Weather can change quickly in Rim Country. Temperatures can change 20 degrees very quickly, and rain can make it dangerously cold, even in summer. Lightning can be a serious issue in Rim Country. Have your hiking party separate from each other in the event of unavoidable lightning. Flash floods can occur without much warning. Monitor for escape routes, even if storms appear to be a long distance away.

Rescue in Rim Country can sometimes take hours. Rim Country is beautiful country, but it is rugged and very remote. Cell phone service can be very spotty. In the event of an emergency, you will be responsible for your comfort until help can arrive.

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(1) comment

Mike White

Well-presented article, Alicia. I just hope both the Forest Service (re: their non-cooperation on clearing the access road, even for ATVs) and the oft ill- or under-informed general hiking public hear your words.

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