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Be Prepared: Essential Advice For Safe Hiking And Backpacking In Vermont

Patti Daniels
These boots were made for walking: a short rest after ascending Camel's Hump, one of Vermont's most popular hiking destinations.

Ridgeline views and the promise of rugged adventure draw a lot of people onto Vermont's hiking trails and into the backcountry. Returning with a few scratches and bug bites is to be expected, but what should you be prepared to handle when you strike out on a backpacking trip or even a day hike?

We get guidance on hiker and backpacker safety from Neil Van Dyke, Search and Rescue coordinator for the Vermont Department of Public Safety, and Mike Debonis, executive director of the Green Mountain Club. They approach the topic with professional expertise and personal experience in the backcountry. Essentials to think about before you head into the woods:

Gear and equipment
A headlamp with extra batteries, an extra layer of clothing for warmth, a rain layer, a first aid kit, water and snacks and cell phone are the basics to bring on a n hike of any duration. "Even if I leave at 8 a.m. for a two-hour hike, I bring all of these things with me,” says Van Dyke. 

Communicate your plan
Tell someone where you’re going, on which trails, and when you expect to be back.

Know your ability
Every hiker chooses her or his own pace, and that should inform what hikes you choose and how long you are prepared to be on the trail.

Weather awareness
Conditions at the top of a mountain can be dramatically different than at the bottom. Know the weather patterns and pack accordingly.

Also in the hour, political tension is gathering around Thursday's special legislative session. On Monday, Governor Peter Shumlin vetoed an energy siting bill that has triggered the return of lawmakers to attempt to overturn that veto. VPR reporter Peter Hirschfeld updates us on what to expect in that session later this week.

This program is broadcast live on Tuesday, June 7, 2016, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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