by Jonathon LaRoy
Please understand, this is no Bear Gryll’s survivalist list and I’m not an Eagle Scout.
However, I have logged thousands of miles on bike and two feet within an hour’s drive of Travelers Rest.
Our area’s temperate rain forest climate, along with elevation changes, creates some amazing diversity for getting out and about in the woods. I’d like to relate some amazing pack items you may or may not have thought about before that will make your day safer and more fun.
The big obvious is the most neglected item day packers lack in the woods, a proper map.
I can’t tell you how often I’m asked questions and I respond, “We can look at my map together.” Now, I know you have your phone and it can turn into a drone and fly you out of the woods at any moment, but I’m willing to bet you can benefit in ways you never thought of from a map. The map gives information on where fires are allowed, emergency numbers, trail designations along with clifftop overlooks and waterfall destinations. My nine year old also has taken to navigating with the map, which is another plus!
One of my favorites to put in my pack for our area is a simple water filter.
These come in a million different sizes and shapes for all kinds of adventures. Most of our area has crystal clear cold water all year round. Instead of carrying extra weight that is most likely going to be warm when you get to your picnic spot, stop along the way, or better yet, picnic next to the river and you’ll always have cold water to drink. Just remember, if you head high into the hills, water may become sparse. Make sure you have water with you at all times unless you’re certain of your next stream crossing.
Of course, if you have that handy map from tip one, you can pre-plan your route and know how many streams are out there and how often you’ll cross them.
Kids are also simply fascinated by drinking clean water straight from the stream.
Often times I want to entice my kids into the woods (they’re ages 6 and 9) and it helps if I can create the feel of adventure with some fun items.
The kids and I have made boats out of leftover corks for creek racing. If we know we’re headed by a legitimate fire pit, we’ll stop and make hot drinks during our picnic. Simple items such as binoculars, a compass or goggles (and swim trunks on those warm summer days) can be used to peer into the creeks to see our elusive salamanders and other neat creatures.
On the more expensive side is a Tenkara (https://www.tenkararodco.com/) fly fishing rod. It packs up super compact and takes very little experience to use. Even some fishing line with some tied flies can be used to hand line trout – just remember to get your license first. (https://dnrlicensing.sc.gov/DNRLicensingSales/SalesCategories.aspx).
A common safety kit is also a must whether hiking alone or with others. Benadryl, Advil, water purification tablets, a lighter, ACE bandage, superglue, band aids along with some isopropyl alcohol which can be packed water tight is all available for less than $15.00.
Keep it in your pack at all times but remember to refresh items yearly. A pro tip is to put the isopropyl in a spray bottle and then you have hand sanitizer before your picnic.
The most important piece of gear is your plan.
Remember to stay safe and have fun.
Tell someone where you’re headed and when they should expect you back in our beautiful town.
We hope these simple tips take your next trip a level up.