The Importance of Creating an Outdoor Itinerary | TRVRS Outdoors

Whether we are hiking, backpacking, running, mountain-biking, or car camping, getting outdoors offers a healthy means to literally take a step outside of every day life. Integrating ourselves in a natural environment unchecked by the infrastructure and comforts of modern society allows us to find peace in the tranquility of nature and embeds in us a sense of self-reliance. Yes, the vastness of personal growth achieved by exploring the natural world is unmatched in nearly all walks of life and yet so are the risks.
With every successful adventure must come a sliver of humility and awareness in the fact that the wild is wild for a reason and that the dangers are 100% inherent regardless of our experience level. It is very easy to create a false sense of security in knowing that we've climbed Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States or that we've run 50-100 miles in one sitting. The reality is that the Mount Whitney trail is a very straightforward, heavily trafficked, marked Class 1 path, and although running any ultra distance is a massive accomplishment, the bulk of these organized events are, well...organized. The routes are literally chosen because they are easy to identify and present minimal danger to participants. 

The Importance of Creating an Itinerary - Grays Peak Colorado Mountaineering | TRVRS Outdoors HIking Trail Running Backpacking

Unfortunately, most of us wildly underestimate the risks of outdoor travel in southern California. We are so excited when we have snow that we jump in the car and head up the mountain without so much as glancing at a recent snowpack summary to assess avalanche risk. "Under prepared and over committed" seems to be the motto for those of us that refuse to turn back when the summit is less than one hundred feet away while all that stands between our goal and our feet is a lack of proper gear and a sheet of slick ice. 

This is why it is important that we cultivate the habit of creating an itinerary. Just like packing your essentials, it is important that we leave a detailed plan with a friend that you personally delegate as a responsible individual before every major outing. This will help prevent panic among loved ones while saving crucial time and minimizing the efforts of Search and Rescue responders in the event of a disappearance.

Below are some resources for creating your outdoor itinerary. Download and edit the PDF and send it to a responsible party. Or you can use the video tutorial to create a virtual itinerary. You can also copy and paste the key points at the bottom of this page to create your own itinerary with information that pertains to you. Thanks for reading and please stay safe.

Download and print the outdoor itinerary (PDF).

Download the Outdoor Itinerary | TRVRS Outdoors Hiking, Trail Running, Mountaineering

Creating a virtual outdoor itinerary using Caltopo Mapping Software

Caltopo is an web application originally developed to coordinate Search and Rescue efforts in California since 2011. The creators have since added maps for the entire United States and the software is now used by outdoorists of all background and skills to create and share map data. This video is geared toward the basic function and tools of Caltopo. However, everything one needs to know to create a basic itinerary including alternate routes, and back up plans is in this video. 

Key Outdoor Itinerary Elements

Panic Time

If you have not heard from me by (time) _______ on (day) _______ of (month) _______, call search and rescue at 911 and report me as overdue.

Information about yourself and your hiking partner(s)

  • Name
  • Age
  • Medical issues
  • Level of outdoors experience

Information about your hike

  • Trail head name and county
  • Planned trails and route
  • Camping locations and sites
  • Backup plan/Alternate Routes
  • Time of departure
  • Expected time of return

Information about your gear

  • Boot size and type
  • Tent color
  • Outerwear color
  • Vehicle make, model, color and license plate number

 What do I do if my friend is missing and has given me this information?

We've written a separate blog to help walk you through the Missing Hiker Protocol before reaching out to authorities. You can read that here.

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