Backcountry Hiking

Backcountry hiking is for those who prefer a challenge. Is that you? You like to essentially be more alone in the wilderness. Have a chance to be self-reliant. Maybe you like to test your survival skills...

Taking a backcountry trail doesn't necessarily mean you won't meet up with other hikers. It just happens less often. In fact usually when you do pass someone on the trail - it's a happy occasion. It becomes a chance to exchange greetings and have some people interaction for just the right amount of time. In fact greeting fellow hikers with "hello" or "nice day" or "good morning" etc. is part of Hiking Courtesy.

There's a trade-off of trail information, any exciting or weird experiences, any helpful tips... And then everyone is off on their own way, at their own pace. Although sometimes people do decide to pair up - even if it's for a little while.

backcountry hikingThey're off - to arrive at their trail-head!


When you decide to go backcountry hiking, you have to get to work on advance planning. Often permits are needed, and reservations to access the area may even be required. Many areas are environmentally sensitive, so National Parks and Natural Preserves have entry rules to prevent over-usage.

Yellowstone is a popular area for backcountry hiking, boat/canoe trips, and horse-back riding or pack-animal trips. If you're interested in Yellowstone, they provide an excellent planning and advisement guide. Get it by clicking here>

Next think about the weather circumstances you might face. If you'll be on the trail in the winter time, or in high elevations where it will be cold - think about this tip. It comes from Canyoneer Tom Jones of - he suggests the Niacin treatment:

As long as your circulatory system is in good shape, give it a try.

When you're cold, your body sends blood to inner organs to keep them warm! It knows enough to protect your most important core organs. The body constricts the blood vessels in your hands and feet, so heat won't escape through them. That's why your hands and feet will tend to get very cold more quickly. The warming blood has been drawn away to the essential core organs like the heart, lungs, liver, etc.

Niacin is a vasodilator - which means it expands blood vessels.

In anticipation of backcountry hiking in cold weather, begin taking Niacin first thing in the morning before eating. (Check bottle for initial dosing.) Test at what point the dose makes your skin flush. Then back off to just under that amount.

Begin using that for a while before your hike. He suggests 3 to 6 months! It will improve the circulation to your extremities, for better cold weather tolerance.

This is not medical advice or scientifically proven, but he says it works for him. He says others tell him it works for them also. Niacin is water soluble, so it won't build up in fat tissues; excess will be eliminated in urine.

Backcountry Hiking Courtesy

On the trail, courtesy is just as important as it is at home. There are certain general rules to remember:

  • Hikers going downhill should give way to hikers going uphill on a narrow trail
  • Hikers on foot should yield the trail to horseback riders or pack-animals
  • Pack out all trash
  • Personal toileting waste (feces) can be buried, but hygiene materials (toilet paper) should be placed in a zip-lock bag and packed out
  • Keep to the trail, don't try to make your own short-cuts
  • Just like the rules of the road, stay to the right and pass on the left when interacting with other on-foot hikers - call a warning if coming from behind
  • When stopping to rest, choose a spot off the trail - but adjacent
  • Leave all the natural environment in nature - take only photos for souvenirs
  • Hike with a quiet tone - don't scare away animal sightings you may want to have, keep the natural environment pristine for the ears

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