Hiking Merit Badge.
Hiking is a terrific way to keep your body and mind in top shape, both now and for a lifetime. Walking packs power into your legs and makes your heart and lungs healthy and strong. Exploring the outdoors challenges you with discoveries and new ideas. Your senses will improve as you use your eyes and ears to gather information along the way.
1. Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while hiking, including hypothermia, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, dehydration, sunburn, sprained ankle, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, hyperventilation, and altitude sickness.
2. Explain and, where possible, show the points of good hiking practices. including the principles of Leave No Trace, hiking safety in the daytime and at night, courtesy to others, choice of footwear, and proper care of feet and footwear.
3. Explain how hiking is an aerobic activity. Develop a plan for conditioning yourself for 10-mile hikes, and describe how you will increase your fitness for longer hikes.
4. Make a written plan for a 10-mile hike, including map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.
5. Take five hikes, each on a different day, and each of at least ten continuous miles. Prepare a hike plan for each hike.*
6. Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared.*
7. After each of the hikes (or during each hike if on one continuous "trek") in requirements 5 and 6, write a short report of your experience. Give dates and descriptions of routes covered, the weather, and interesting things you saw. Share this report with your merit badge counselor.
*The hikes in requirements 5 and 6 can be used in fulfilling Second Class (2a) and First Class (3) rank requirements, but only if Hiking merit badge requirements 1, 2, 3, and 4 have been completed to the satisfaction of your counselor. The hikes of requirements 5 and 6 cannot be used to fulfill requirements of other merit badges.
What you take will depend on where you are going and how long you plan to be away, but any backpack should include the following:
Candle and matches
Clothing (always bring something warm, extra socks and rain gear)
First aid kit
Food (bring extra)
Foil (to use as a cup or signaling device)
Pocket mirror (to use as a signaling device)
Prescription glasses (an extra pair)
Prescription medications for ongoing medical conditions
Radio with batteries
Space blanket or a piece of plastic (to use for warmth or shelter)
Trash bag (makes an adequate poncho)
Waterproof matches or matches in a waterproof tin
Water purification tablets
Whistle (to scare off animals or to use as a signaling device)
Always allow for bad weather and for the possibility that you may be forced to spend a night outdoors unexpectedly.
It's a good idea to assemble a separate "survival pack" for each hiker to have at all times. In a small waterproof container, place a pocket knife, compass, whistle, space blanket, nylon filament, water purification tablets, matches and candle. With these items, the chances of being able to survive in the wild are greatly improved.
Frostbite is a medical condition whereby damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to extreme cold at or below 0º C (32ºF).
Sunburn is literally a burn on your skin. It is a burn from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The consequence of this burn is inflammation of the skin. Injury can start within 30 minutes of exposure.
Snake bites occur when a snake bites the skin, and are medical emergencies if the snake is poisonous.
Snake bites can be deadly if not treated quickly. Children are at higher risk for death or serious complications due to their smaller body size. The right antivenom can save a person's life. Getting to an emergency room as quickly as possible is very important. If properly treated, many snake bites will not have serious effects.
Symptoms depend on the type of snake, but may include:
Bleeding from wound, Blurred vision, Burning of the skin, Convulsions, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Excessive sweating, Fainting, Fang marks in the skin, Fever, Increased thirst, Loss of muscle coordination, Nausea and vomiting, Numbness and tingling, Rapid pulse, Tissue death, Severe pain, Skin discoloration, Swelling at the site of the bite, Weakness.
1. Keep the person calm, reassuring them that bites can be effectively treated in an emergency room. Restrict movement, and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom.
2. If you have a pump suction device (such as that made by Sawyer), follow the manufacturer's directions.
3. Remove any rings or constricting items because the affected area may swell. Create a loose splint to help restrict movement of the area.
4. If the area of the bite begins to swell and change color, the snake was probably poisonous.
5. Monitor the person's vital signs -- temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure -- if possible. If there are signs of shock (such as paleness), lay the person flat, raise the feet about a foot, and cover the person with a blanket.
6. Get medical help right away.
7. Bring in the dead snake only if this can be done safely. Do not waste time hunting for the snake, and do not risk another bite if it is not easy to kill the snake. Be careful of the head when transporting it -- a snake can actually bite for up to an hour after it's dead (from a reflex).
DO NOT allow the person to become over-exerted. If necessary, carry the person to safety.
DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
DO NOT apply cold compresses to a snake bite.
DO NOT cut into a snake bite with a knife or razor.
DO NOT try to suck out the venom by mouth.
DO NOT give the person stimulants or pain medications unless a doctor tells you to do so.
DO NOT give the person anything by mouth.
DO NOT raise the site of the bite above the level of the person's heart.
Hyperventilation is breathing in excess of what the body needs. This is sometimes called overbreathing. Rapid or deep breathing is sometimes seen in very serious conditions such as infection, bleeding, or heart attack.
If you start hyperventilating, the goal is to raise the carbon dioxide level in your blood, which will put an end to most of your symptoms. There are several ways to do this:
1. Reassurance from a friend or family member can help relax your breathing. Words like "you are doing fine," "you are not having a heart attack," and "you are not going to die" are very helpful. It is extremely important that the person helping you remain calm and deliver these messages with a soft, relaxed tone.
2. To increase your carbon dioxide, you need to take in less oxygen. To accomplish this, you can breathe through pursed lips (as if you are blowing out a candle) or you can cover your mouth and one nostril, breathing through the other nostril.
Acute mountain sickness is caused by a lack of oxygen when traveling to higher elevations. This usually occurs in individuals exposed to an altitude over 7,000 feet (2,100 m) who have not had a chance to acclimate to the altitude before engaging in physical activities. Mountain climbers, trekkers, skiers, and travelers to the Andes or Himalayas are at greatest risk. While individual tolerance varies, symptoms usually appear in several hours, with those in poor physical condition being most susceptible. Headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and poor appetite occur initially. Inability to sleep is also frequently reported. In more severe cases thinking and judgment may become impaired. An uncommon but potentially fatal complication called high altitude pulmonary edema, caused by fluid build-up in the lungs, can also occur.
The symptoms of acute mountain sickness can be prevented or minimized by gradually ascending (less than 500 meters/day) over several days to give your body a chance to acclimate to the higher altitude. Taking the prescription medication Diamox (acetazolamide) 250 mg three times a day has been shown to speed up the acclimatization process and can be taken shortly before and during the ascent. Do not take this medication if you are allergic to sulfa drugs. This medication is a mild diuretic and may work by changing the body's acid-base balance and stimulating breathing. Dexamethasone 8 mg once a day has also been shown to be effective. However, this steroid medication may have more adverse effects. Once symptoms occur, they usually improve over several days without treatment. However, if they become severe, they can be relieved with the administration of oxygen or descent to a lower altitude.
Hikers have responsibilities to the land, its wildlife and to other people. Some of the following rules were created because the effects of just one person can be great. For example, a campfire which starts a forest blazing. Other rules exist because cumulative effects from numbers of people can be so damaging, like littering for instance. The idea is to leave no trace (or as little as possible) of your ever having been in the area.
There’s really no need to worry about setting off by yourself if you are going for a short hike in a nearby area on easy terrain, but, if you are heading out into heavily forested wilderness areas with winding trails and steep canyons then the possibility of getting lost or suffering an injury becomes very real and you should think carefully about whether it is sensible to head out alone. Having a partner along can have many advantages, especially if that person is a seasoned hiker. Clearly, ‘two heads are better than one’ and if you do get lost or get into difficulty you’re a lot less likely to panic if you have someone with you to help solve the problem.
Safety Tip No 2 - Let someone know where you’re going.
If you are a novice hiker then you should stick to clearly marked and well traveled trails and ought not to stray from these trails to explore until you have some experience and have mastered the basics of map and compass work. But, it won’t take you too long before you are ready to tackle some more adventurous hiking and the possibility of getting injured or lost will arise. As a result, you should always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return so that they can dispatch a search party if you don’t return when expected.Day Hiking Safety
It’s essential to carry a basic survival kit with you. Bring such things as a lighter and matches, a good knife, a first aid kit, a rain jacket and a flashlight. It is also a good idea to take a map and compass along and a fully charged cell phone.
Safety Tip No 4 - Take some basic provisions with you.
Water or other fluids such as sports drinks are essential as you can lose fluid very quickly even over an hour or two on a hot day. You should remember though that water is heavy, so take along sufficient but not too much. Don’t forget though that you must not drink from local streams as natural water sources may appear to be inviting but they are often filled with bacteria and could make you sick very quickly. Also do not forget to take along sufficient food to last you. There’s no pleasure in being hungry out on the trail but don’t forget that you can last a lot longer without food than without water.Day Hiking Safety
In order for the night hike to be safe, we follow these night hike rules on every night hike:
Many dedicated ultra light hikers and backpackers prefer sandals or lightweight running shoes to boots. Keeping your hiking footwear as light in weight as possible makes sense because the effort it takes to carry a pound of gear on your feet is approximately five times the effort to carry the same pound on your back. So the first rule of thumb for selecting your hiking shoes is to keep them as light as practical. At the end of a long day's hike your feet and legs will thank you.
But weight alone is not the only consideration. There are several other factors to consider when selecting appropriate hiking footwear: comfort based on support, tread design, and protection from sticks, roots, rocks, mud, water, heat, and cold. Study the pros and cons of each type of footwear then experiment. As with other gear a little experimentation will help you find which type of hiking footwear is the most comfortable for you.Hiking Footwear
Some of the advantages of hiking sandals besides weight are ventilation and lack of moisture retention should they become wet in rain, snow or when crossing a stream.
A step up in foot protection from sandals are running, cross training, or hiking shoes. For years this type of shoe were generally deemed unsuitable for all but the mildest of day hikes. Recently, however, more hikers and even backpackers have found them to perfectly adequate especially when carrying light loads.
The traditional choice in hiking footwear is boots. They are the best for hiking because they keep your feet warmer when it is cold and stay drier except when crossing larger streams or rivers. They make it easier to cross snow fields, give more support, typically come with good hiking tread designs, and are more durable than shoes.
Proper hiking socks help keep your feet warm, dry and blister-free .
Socks provide a number of key functions to make your feet happier and healthier: They provide cushioning, wick sweat away from your foot, keep your little piggies warm, fine-tune your boot fit and reduce friction inside your boot.Hiking Socks
Taking proper care of your feet is arguably the most important job of a conscientious hiker. Blisters or sore feet may drive you to pack it in and go home. It's important to stop walking and IMMEDIATELY attend to the first sign of a sore spot. Friction causes blisters, so it is critical to find and remove the cause, which may be a tiny speck of grit or a rough sock seam. Often the cause isn't obvious, and you just have to hope that covering the area, to prevent further rubbing, will solve the problem. Failure to do this may result in a blister.
Keeping your feet in good condition is a prerequisite to pain-free hiking.
Tips to keep your feet in top shape:
Condition Your Feet
Get Good Footwear
Custom-Fit Your Footwear to Your Feet
Break In Your Boots
Wear Good Socks
Manage Your Toenails
Manage Your Skin
Rest Your Feet
Learn How to Prevent Blisters
Carry a Small Foot-Care KitHiking Footcare
Hiking is one of the most healthy aerobic sports one can participate in. Involving not only use of the leg, arm and torso muscle groups, hiking into higher elevations provides for lung capacity endurance and strength. Offering a great diversion from a gym or street walk, hiking is an excellent cardiovascular work out for the entire family. Understanding the health benefit of hiking, preventing injury and preparing for hiking trips, will ensure a more pleasant and enjoyable walking experience for many years.. As a cardiovascular activity, hiking lends its most recent popularity in the significant benefits in terms of weight loss, preventing osteoporosis and decreasing blood pressure. Mentally and emotionally, hiking offers both nature enthusiast and those without an affinity for the outdoors, an opportunity to obtain the recommended aerobic workout while enjoying the beauty of the hills and mountains of the country. At higher elevations, the views are breathtaking, often the underlying motivator factor behind an amateur hiker's motivation to begin a hiking fitness program.Hiking is an Aerobic Sport
Of course, the best way to condition your body for hiking is to actually go hiking. Start with short hikes at low elevations and carry a small daypack. If you don't have trails nearby, simply strap on a backpack for your next walk. Another option is to carry a backpack while you're on the treadmill. Gradually increase the incline of your treadmill walks to simulate hiking up rolling hills.
Strength training is another key component for a pleasant hiking experience. Following a consistent weight training program will help prepare your muscles for all-day physical activity. Plus, when your muscles and joints are strong, you're less likely to injure yourself. Your program should include training for all of your muscle groups as well as plenty of stretching.
Prime Your Heart: To get the proper aerobic conditioning for a 5-mile hike, walk 30 to 45 minutes, 3 days a week, varying the incline. On a fourth day, do a longer walk, preferably outside on hilly terrain. Each week, increase the long walk until you're doing at least two-thirds of the distance of your first hike (about 31/2 miles if you'll be hiking 5 miles).Hiking Conditioning
Please PRINT and fill in appropriate information. Give this form to a responsible person who can provide the information to Search and Rescue, in the event that you do not complete your trip as scheduled.
Name of Hiker Age
Phone Number #1 #2 #3 #4
Originating Trailhead Location:
Dates of Travel:
Return Date and Time:
If camping, list campsite areas: Night #1 Night #2 ______________________________
Night #3 Night #4 Night #5 _____________________________
Have you ever hiked to this destination before ? Yes ( ) No ( )
Vehicle Make: Model: Year: Color: License Plate: _________________________
List any medical considerations:
Please Mark for all items that apply to your trip profile (items that you have with you):
Route, GPS Locations and Way Points
Clothing and Equipment List
List of Items for a Trail Lunch
Five hikes, each on a different day, of ten continuous miles
One Hike of twenty continuous miles in one day
Prepare a hike plan for each of the hikes
Write a short report after each hike
Crater Lake at Philmont Scout Ranch