A few weeks ago I was hiking on a high peak very close to a large metro area. The peak sees a lot of foot traffic being as it is the highest summit in a very popular National Park.
The trail is a superhighway of footpaths, wide enough for two people to walk beside each other or pass easily, stepped up with rocks or retaining logs. Many people just use the first few miles of the trail for a jog or to get exercise. The first few thousand feet of elevation gain are easy enough.
I felt some rain drops at 8:30 in the morning, but not to worry, thundershowers don't usually develop at the earliest until noon. Even then if you can wait them out they are soon over. Before 11;00 the rain became steady, and I met the rangers hustling on down from the high bivy spot, making remarks about the rain. Unconcerned I waited under a tiny overhang of a boulder for the rain to let up. It didn't.
I started down, no use heading up in the rain. By the time I got down to 12,000 feet it was really raining, I had my cheap milsurp XXL raincoat over my head and over my day pack. Then it started to hail. In thirty seconds they were big enough to hurt. Nowhere to go above treeline. I passed a couple, the woman was on her belly squeezing under a rock, the guy beside her, using his back pack to shield his head. His shoulders were taking a beating.
The hail didn't let up but it didn't get too big also. Biggest ones were the size of mothballs. I had a hand up under my hood to give a space between my rain coat and my bald spot. The hail hurt the back of my hand. Stung pretty bad when a big one connected.
I kept walking, fast. In the mountains nothing cures like losing elevation. The trees were close but too small, nothing you could get under. It all stopped at some time before I reached real trees. Twenty minutes is a long time for an intense hail storm. The trail was ankle deep in an ice water slush of tiny ice cubes.
The walking was softer on the slushy ice but my boots aren't new and I was getting leakage. There were many other people on the trail, all of us walking as quickly as we could to get down. Down out of the cold air, out of the icy slush.
I noticed less than half of the people even had a rain coat. I was the only person wearing boots, everyone had some sort of hiking sneakers that everyone wears now. People's feet were very cold and wet. Many were wet all over, but walking fast no shivering. I looked carefully at everyone I saw, prepared to give my coat and sweater to anyone dangerously cold. In those conditions any accident could turn serious very quickly.
I was amazed at how unprepared most people were despite hundreds of dollars in hydration systems, and GPSs, and competitive mountain running shoes, and trekking poles, and god knows what else. If they'd just thrown a plastic trash bag in their packs they'd of been able to pull it over themselves, poke a hole for their head, and be dry. Plastic ponchos cost a coupla bucks.
I guess I'm over prepared. I can last a night out if uncomfortably.
For a simple day hike on a well traveled trail I bring.
A two quart water bottle, (gallon for a long hike)
two ways to start a fire
roll of athletic tape
Off trail, far away from other people, (my preferred habitat), I add
Emergency locator beacon
hooded fleece jacket
Extras that I don't need but I sometimes bring for fun
instant coffee, tea, and bullion cube soup
peanuts or an orange
Yes I know there is no compass on the list and a map is only for fun. Oh well, I'm old, don't get lost much anymore. I don't need food. I can and have gone many days without and all I was is hungry.
What do you bring where you live?