May 30, 2012
Hiking and Outdoor Skills
New York has thousands of miles of wilderness and hiking trails, in places ranging from city parks to mountain backcountry. Hiking is a great way to explore the unique and diverse habitat in an area. To make sure that your hike is safe and enjoyable for the whole family, consider the following tips:
-Know where you are going. Plan your route and leave plenty of time to return home or set up camp before dark. Tell someone where you are going, and provide them with a description of your car and the name and location of the parking lot.
-Sign into trail registers and keep to your planned trip as best you can.
-At least two adults should be on the hike. In case one adult gets hurt, the other can go for help.
-Let the slowest hiker set the pace at the front. Make sure one of the adults brings up the rear as the "sweeper" so that no one gets separated.
-Leave appropriate time for rest stops, eating, or just enjoying the scenery around you.
-Travel quietly and speak in low tones to improve your chances of seeing wildlife.
-Dress appropriately for the current weather, and make sure that you have extra clothing in case the weather changes. Sturdy walking shoes or lightweight hiking boots are good for hiking along trails. Just make sure that you "break them in" first-painful blisters can be a real problem on the trail. Many hikers wear two pairs of socks-wool with an inner sock of cotton-to lessen the chance of developing blisters.
-Bring a fully charged cell phone for use only in an emergency. Turn it off while hiking, and when you take a break or reach a hilltop, check the area for the best signal. If you have to call for help, turn the GPS capability on, if you have it. GPS makes it possible for searchers to determine your location, even if there is a low signal. Stay put or let the telephone operator know what your plans are.
-If you don't return home on time, someone should call the 911 center where you are hiking to report that you are overdue. For more information, DEC TV features a video about Hiking Essentials and other hiking/trail information.
Not Just a Walk in the Park
Knowing where you are going and how to get there is an important part of heading out into an unknown area. But you also have to be prepared to deal with health issues that can occur when enjoying the outdoors. Sporting goods stores carry a quick reference guides to first aid book that will fit easily in your backpack.
Dehydration-Dehydration occurs when you don't replace the fluid that your body loses through participating in outdoor activities or exercise. Make sure to drink water before you start on your hike and at intervals along the way.
Hypothermia-Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Hypothermia isn't just a concern in the winter. A cool, breezy spring or summer day can be more dangerous than a calm, dry winter day because wind and moisture draw heat away from the body quickly. Dress in layers and wear a hat to avoid this life-threatening condition.
Heat Exhaustion-Heat exhaustion occurs when fluids are lost through perspiration and not adequately replaced. It is a concern when the body is exposed to high temperatures or physical exertion. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout your hike.
Heat Stroke-Heat stroke is caused by extremely high body temperatures when the body is exposed to more heat than the body can manage. The body can't cool itself through sweating, and the core temperature rises quickly. This is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate medical attention.
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Pack a Survival Backpack
You need more than just hiking boots and some energy bars when you head out into the woods on a hike, even if you are just planning a short trip. Start by choosing a backpack. There are two types of backpacks: internal frame and external frame. Internal frame packs have flexible reinforced supports and foam padding to conform to your body. These are best suited for activities such as rock climbing or cross-country skiing-in the event the weight shifts you won't be thrown off balance. External packs have a frame with a nylon pack, padded shoulder straps and hip belt. The center of gravity is high and designed to support a heavy load, but the pack is easy to carry. Most people can carry up to 20 percent of their weight. On a rainy afternoon, get together with your family, pack a backpack with some essentials and keep it handy for your next hike.
Talk about why you need the following items:
-Map and compass
-Signal device such as a whistle or mirror
-Matches and lighter in a waterproof container
-High-energy, lightweight food like granola bars and nuts
-Flashlight with extra batteries and bulb
-Multi-tool (comes with different options including a screwdriver, file, tweezers, scissors, etc)
-Basic first-aid kit
-Toilet paper and a small trowel to dig a pit
-Nylon parachute cord (about 50 feet)
-Lightweight, windproof/waterproof jacket and pants
-Brightly colored bandanna
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Programs at Stony Kill are now offered by the Stony Kill Foundation; there are no DEC education staff at the site due to fiscal constraints.
Open Barn Tour
Saturdays and Sundays, June 2, 3, 9 and 10 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Watchable Wildlife: Bluebirds
Saturday, June 2 at 10:00 AM
Family Fun: Fun with Flowers
Saturday, June 2 at 2:00 PM
Parents and children must accompany each other. Registration is limited. Please call 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, May 30 to register or for more information.
Watchable Wildlife: Vy-a-Duck
Saturday, June 9 at 9:00 AM
Come take a gander at common ducks and geese as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Ducks Unlimited and the birthday of America's most popular drake, Donald Duck (1934).
Family Fun: Got Cavities
Saturday, June 9 at 2:00 PM
Come celebrate National Get Outdoors Day on this field study of woodpecker lifestyles and the considerable influence tree cavities have on local ecology. Registration is limited. Please call 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, June 6 to register or for more information.
Wild, Wet and Wacky World of Ponds
Saturday, June 9 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Call 518-456-0655, or go the Albany Pine Bush website to register. Cost: $3.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Every Tuesday from April through September from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Assist with hour-long projects to help maintain and improve ecosystems and trails throughout the preserve. A variety of projects ensures there is something for almost every age and ability. Refreshments provided. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
Educator Workshop: Project WILD
Saturday, June 2 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Project WILD is an award-winning, interdisciplinary environmental education program for teachers and youth leaders. Participants receive a Project WILD Curriculum and Activity Guide with more than 100 lesson plans. For educators of students in grades K-12. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
The Reinstein Woods Experience
Saturday, June 2 at 1:30 PM
Experience the best of both worlds at Reinstein Woods. Explore and learn about our environmentally-friendly "green" building and take a tour of the trails in this guided program. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
Thursday, June 7 at 4:30 PM
Enjoy a one-hour program for kids featuring a different, fun, outdoor activity each week. For children in grades K through 5. No registration required.
Outdoor Adventure Club: Insects of the Night
Friday, June 8 at 8:30 PM
The night offers a different world of insects that is rarely explored. Join us as we search for moths and other insects attracted by light and scent. For adults and children ages 12 and older. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
Dragonflies in your Backyard
Saturday, June 9 at 10:30 AM
Take a glimpse into the life of harmless dragonflies that patrol ponds in search of mosquitoes to eat. For adults and children ages 8 and older. Call 716-683-5959 to register.