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Trail Skills 2016

Day 2: Trail Skills

Reagan McKinney
Venturer Scout, Youth Spokesperson
Edmonton, Alberta
Discover how you can make the most of your Scouting adventures by learning about Plan-Do-Review – an easy process Scouts follow to ensure safe, fun Scouting adventures!.
As members of the Scouting movement, we are privileged with the opportunity to explore the vast collection of trails Canada has to offer. However, with this privilege comes the responsibility to keep our Groups and ourselves as safe as possible. Whether you’re planning an adventure as an Expedition Team, Patrol or Pack, there are a key things to consider to ensure you experience a safe journey along your path.
The first step in preparing your adventure is researching the trail you are hiking, biking or riding. This is the foundation of your entire journey. By knowing the terrain you will be venturing on, you can pack the appropriate clothing and the right amount of water and snacks to bring. Everything links back into your research. You should record the distance, elevation gain, weather (including the forecast for the date you plan on going and the weather for past years around the same time), and the wildlife in the area. Sites like are great resources for finding this information. Trailpeak includes reports of other hikers’ journeys on the trails, which can be a good indication of what to expect.

Safety Week — Trail Skills

After conducting your research, you can start the planning stage of your adventure. Use the distance, elevation gain and weather findings to plan checkpoints for yourself. Especially in the winter months, you want to ensure that you are following the course with ample time to return before dusk. Many times, elevation is missed by the hiker because the information sheet on the trail only includes the net elevation. It is crucial to not fall into this trap. By looking at a topographical map of the trail, you can determine the places where elevation is a major factor. You can plan your checkpoints accordingly. Do not expect to travel at the same speed going up a hill as you would on flat ground.
Your research on weather and wildlife plays a big part in the equipment you choose to bring along. Even in the summer months, you can get hypothermia by not dressing appropriately for the rain or the snow (if you are in the mountains). For all occasions, sunscreen should be packed and used. You can get a sunburn on sunny days, cloudy days and even snowy days.
Investigating the wildlife of the area can also greatly increase your safety. Look for reports on bears and update yourself on the plant life of the area. If bears are common in the area, you should include bear bells and bear spray in your equipment. Studying the plant life will increase your preparedness on the trail. Being aware of harmful plants can help you administer first aid to others in your group. The ability to identify edible plants could help in emergency situations.
Before embarking on your adventure, always ensure you have let someone at home know the details of your journey, also known as an itinerary. You should let them know where you are going, the time you are leaving at and the time that you plan on returning from your hike. In case you get lost or injured and are unable to return, someone will know the whereabouts of your location and be able to send help.This doesn’t change if you are hiking with a large group or by yourself; however, always plan to travel in a group of three or more. That way if someone gets hurt, one person can remain with him or her while the other goes for help.
Now that you’ve completed all your planning, you are ready to embark on your adventure. Remember to drink plenty of clean, filtered water throughout the trip. You should drink approximately 250 mL of water every fifteen minutes. Ensuring your water is filtered is crucial. There are many different methods to filter water and you should research the option that works best for you.
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the challenge and beauty hiking has to offer.
Safety Week: Trail Skills
Download the Trail Safety Tip
Scouts Canada’s Youth Spokespeople challenge you to participate in Safety Week by sharing your #SafeScouting story on social media, or the MyAdventures Blog. You can also forward the daily tips to friends and family to make sure everyone in your community stays safe.


Scouts Canada, the country’s leading youth organization, offers challenging programs for boys, girls and youth age 5-26 in thousands of individual groups in most cities and towns across Canada.

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