An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsroomNewsArticle Display

Article - Article View

Planning dominates the great outdoor's high ground

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Summer is a time when people venture into the "great outdoors" and undertake long-anticipated activities with nature as the backdrop.

For those nature lovers among us, Colorado offers myriad camping and hiking opportunities. These activities can be an enjoyable experience with a little preparation. Taking the time to know where you are going, what you need to bring, and potential hazards can help your adventure be both rewarding and safe.

When selecting a place to camp, allocate enough travel time so you can set up camp in the daylight. It is always a good idea to let others know where you are going and when you will return. When you tell someone, it is best to provide them a map with your location and contact information of a ranger station or the closest town. As part of our Wingman culture, it is advisable to let others know you have arrived at your destination safely. If hiking, have a check-in plan with someone.

After carefully selecting your destination and planning for a safe arrival, consider these three critical needs every camper and hiker should have: water, the ability to make fire for warmth, and shelter. Anything else is a bonus, although we strongly recommend taking enough food so you don't need to "live off the land."

If your destination will have adequate potable water supplies, you may not need to pack it. If it does not have an adequate water supply, plan on carrying at least 120 ounces of drinking water per person per day as a rule of thumb. Higher altitude camping and hiking is physically demanding, requiring more water than you need at lower altitudes.

For the campfire aficionados, be sure to check for fire bans first. When you set up camp, do not place your dwelling too close to open flames. Also, do not use a heater or gas lantern inside a tent because it's a fire hazard and potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and lethal!

Finally, all shelters are not created equal. Select a tent appropriate for the area you have chosen. Many campers must forego their planned shelter due to space limitations, uneven ground or rocky surfaces that prevent staking and securing of the canopy. Therefore, do your research and always have a contingency plan for staying safe from the elements.

For supplies, a few items that should be standard in every camper's kit include:
· Adequate water or water purifiers if water is available
· First-aid kit
· Flashlight with extra batteries
· A multipurpose knife (one with all the tools you may need)
· Insect repellent
· Snake bite kit
· Lighter
· Sunscreen
· A means to signal for help if hiking is on the agenda
· Hydrocortisone cream (for that encounter with poison ivy)
· High energy food
· Current map of the area in which you will be hiking

These are, of course, only a few of the items you will need. Appropriate planning will allow you to gauge the type and amount of provisions and gear to take with you on your trip.

Another side effect of Colorado's altitude is the rapid flux in weather. Diligent campers should pack waterproof clothing, something warm enough for at least 20 degree weather and the ability to make fire in any condition.

Other hazards you may encounter are the full time residents of your chosen campsite - the insects and wildlife. The best way to keep uninvited guests out of your campsite is to keep it clean. Bears and other furry creatures will take unsecured food and garbage as an open invitation to join your party. Place garbage in the proper receptacle (if available) and secure food at all times.

Colorado has a variety of indigenous rattlesnake species. Check the area for reptilian threat awareness before your trip. The good news is rattlesnakes may rattle to warn you they are near. The bad news is by the time you hear it, you may be bitten.

To avoid the risk to your lower extremities, wear appropriate clothing and leather hiking boots, preferably covering the lower legs with snake gaiters. To protect your upper body, do not lift rocks or place hands where you cannot see or haven't inspected for hazards. Appropriate shoes and a fitted backpack are necessary if you are planning a trek into the wilderness. Nothing ruins a great plan faster than ill-fitting or inappropriate gear.

Proper risk management and planning will make your outdoor adventures enjoyable for all participants. Remember, you cannot safely dominate the outdoors' high ground without disciplined mission planning.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui