It was a bit of a weird morning.
Al left early to go set up for the GPS class up at Curt Gowdy State Park and then I headed there with our kids to do some hiking.
We were about a mile into Stone Temple Pilot when I got this text message from Al who had finished up and was headed home.
“Bad accident. Traffic is stopped on the interstate back to Laramie.”
No worries, I thought. Traffic will be moving by the time we’re ready to leave.
An hour later I called Al and to discover that he was still in traffic, sitting on I-80 somewhere in Telephone Canyon. He suggested that I head to the rest area and wait there for the traffic to clear. So I did.
When I pulled up at the summit rest area it was like a refugee camp. Cars, trucks, people everywhere!
Rumor was that there was a bad motorcycle crash and that we weren’t going to be going anywhere soon.
So I did a quick assessment.
- 3/4 of a tank of gas
- 1 gallon of water
- 4 granola bars
- 3 apples
- 1 ziploc bag of banana chips
- 2 hot, tired and cranky children
I called Al to see how he was doing. He had food, water and was still waiting with a gaggle of people stranded on the interstate. He mentioned that if I headed to Ames Monument I could take a back road to Tie Siding and then come back to Laramie via highway 287.
So I checked out my map, used a little zen navigation and made it back to Laramie.
Al walked it the door about 5 minutes after me.
So what does this big long story have to do with hiking?
A lot, actually.
Whenever I head to Happy Jack or Vedauwoo or Curt Gowdy State Park I don’t take the outing as seriously as I should, A lot of time I’m riding around in a 1/8th of a tank of gas, an almost dead i-Phone, half-empty water bottles and not a lot of extra food.
Thankfully this morning I was prepared. I had enough fuel to take the long, lonely dirty road into town. I had enough of a charge on my phone to look up maps and communicate with Al, and plenty of food and water to keep me and my kids sustained.
Every once in a while it’s good to have a little reminder to never head up the mountain, no matter how close to town without being prepared.
I’m not an expert on emergency preparedness, but you can be sure that these 5 items (in addition to everything else) are going to be part of my pre-hike checklist from now on.
- A full tank of gas. Never leave town without one.
- A full charge on my phone & charging cables in my car.
- A physical map (as a backup).
- Extra water.
- Extra food.
We still have no idea what happened in Telephone Canyon today, but we do know that it was bad and our hearts go out to whoever was involved.
For well over 2 1/2 hours people sat in traffic and on the side of the road or scrambled over backroads.
Here’s why it’s important to be prepared. You never know when a little extra water might help someone else on or off the trails even if you don’t need it.