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Threats



Troubleshoot This: Stalked by a Cougar



Survive Coastal Dangers

Waves, currents, and tides threaten thousands of miles of American trails (any within a quarter of a mile of a waterway), and hikers can get caught in the barrage. Headland-sculpting, beach-pounding waves can swallow an unwary trekker without so much as a burp. Learn how to recognize, negotiate, and avoid nearshore hazards

Escape Plan: Get High and Avoid Quicksand

Strategies for staying alive in flash floods and quicksand.

True Tales: Can't Breathe at High Altitude

A scape of pulmonary edema sends this reader down the mountain, fast.

Survival: Don't Always Trust a Topo Map

Look around, not just at your map.

Survival: Cross a River

Don't get swept away, use this technique.

Survival: Learn Patience in Alaska

Don't let low points get you down.

Survival: Bring Your Own Gear

Don't scrimp on survival equpiment.

Survival: Carbon-Dioxide Poisoning

Ventilate your tent to avoid this danger.

Survival: Predict a Flash Flood

Stay alert in canyon country.

Survival: Lightning Attire

What not to wear in a lightning storm.

Survival: Unexpected Accidents

Hard-won-lessons and tips about unexpected dangers from the front lines of survival.

Survival: If I Only Knew Then...

On the path to good judgment, you’ll find the wreckage from a whole lot of bad decisions. Your plan: Learn from others’ mistakes, and wise up to outdoor hazards without risking your life. Your guide: Veteran adventurer Mark Jenkins. Plus: Guides and rangers share hard-won lessons they wish someone would have told them.

Rip & Live: Spiders

Itsy bitsy? Sure, but spiders loom large in hiker phobias. They shouldn't: Only a few subspecies of the black widow and brown recluse can inflict enough damage to cut short a hike. Here's what you need to know about North America's most venomous spiders, from how to avoid them to treating their bites.

Rip & Live: Survive Spiders

Itsy bitsy? Sure, but only a few subspecies of the black widow and brown recluse can inflict enough damage to cut short a hike. Here’s what you need to know about North America’s most venomous spiders, from how to avoid them to treating their bites.

BACKPACKER Halloween Special

Heading out into the woods this weekend? Stock up on scary ghost stories and frightening trail tales in our special Halloween section.

America's Scariest Trails: Really, I Saw it Myself

True tales from BACKPACKER editors and readers

America's Scariest Trails: Bloodthirsty Creatures

Bigfoot? He's a softy compared to the other menacing monsters lurking in the woods near you.

America's Scariest Trails: Supernatural Sights

Alpine views and starry skies are nice, but on these unsettling hikes you might see something really stunning.

America's Scariest Trails: Tragedy in the Grand Canyon

When bodies can't be buried, do their spirits ever rest? Hike to the scene of this wreck and find out.

America's Scariest Trails: Yosemite's Supernatural Wind

Go ahead and hike to this park's famous lakes and waterfalls. Just watch your step–and your back.

America's Scariest Trails: Mt. Washington's Phantom Crowds

Never let your guard down on this deadly peak, where the weather–and spirits–are unpredictable.

America's Scariest Trails: Big Bend's Deadly Past

With more than 200 murders recorded here, it's no wonder the Chisos Mountains are named for ghosts.

The Lost Boy of the Ozarks

After three decades of silence, a reporter reveals the story he was afraid to write.

Obama's Wilderness Point Man: Interview with Ken Salazar

Parks czar Ken Salazar talks trails, nixes ANWR drilling, and defends his boss's controversial guns-in-parks decision.

Hike It, Save It

It's never been easier to help save the wilderness–no donations, no petitions, no pulaski swinging required. The only thing you have to do is go backpacking.

The Mosquito Truth: Behind the Bite

Get the bug dope ready: The bloodthirsty mosquito is heading your way this summer.

Survive This: Caught in a Blizzard

Use these simple tips to survive the storm.

Wilderness Wonders: Most Active Volcano

You better stand back if this Sicilian island volcano starts to spurt.

Wilderness Wonders: Scariest Predator

There is nothing like the African lion.

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Barr Trail, Pikes Peak, CO

A hair-raising hike

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon - America's Most Dangerous Hikes

Baked or broiled?

Who's the Ultimate Survivor?

We settle the debate with winner-takes-all smackdown: Meet history's true hard man.

Lost in the Olympics

A gym teacher's speed hike becomes a five-day bushwhack in Olympic National Park.

Caught in a Colorado Snowstorm

An autumn climb turns life-threatening when a hiker endures a night in a whiteout at 12,000 feet in the Rockies.

Natural Born Killers: Top Backcountry Dangers

Which is the bigger backcountry threat, grizzlies or flash floods? Find out what should scare you–and how to survive it–with BACKPACKER's Terror Index.

Rocky Mountain (Extra) High: Lightning On The Colorado Trail

Dodge high wattage on the newest stretch of the Colorado Trail.

Danger Signs: Flash Flood

July to mid-September is prime time for heavy rains in the Southwest, where fast-rising water in narrow canyons can turn trickling streams into deadly torrents. Don't get swept away.



Survive This: Bitten by a (Rabid?) Animal

Chomped by a critter? Here's what to do.

The Big Question: Should loaded guns be allowed in national parks?



Survive This: Separated From Group

If you get lost from your hiking party, here's how to get found–fast.

Danger Signs: Burn Zones

Here are the top three wildfire dangers and how to avoid them.

Where Am I Lowest On The Food Chain?

Want to hike where the most predators exist? Pack your courage and follow these directions.

Green Guide

In honor of Earth Day, we bring you the first industry-wide survey on which gear manufacturers are positively impacting the environment, plus much more.

The Future of the National Parks

Everyone loves national parks - but are they being loved to death? Join a star-studded roundtable to explore the fate of this embattled American institution.

Survive This: Lost in the Desert

When you're stuck in the desert unexpectedly conserve, conserve, conserve.

Survive This: Stuck on a Scree Slope

When you're slipping and sliding, don't let your partners help you. Learn how to climb yourself to safety.

Survive This: Volcanic Eruption

Don't worry about lava. Worry about rocks and mud and ash.

A Dozen Ways to Die

How do hikers meet their maker in the backcountry? The answers may surprise you.

Survival Story: Surviving a Grizzly Attack in Glacier National Park

On August 25, 2005, Johan Otter and his 18-year-old daughter, Jenna, hiked right into the worst nightmare of any Glacier National Park backpacker: a 300-pound mother grizzly protecting two cubs. Here, in his own words, the 45-year-old physical therapist from Escondido, CA, shares the incredible story of their life-and-death struggle.

Missing in Action: How a Backcountry Ranger With 28 Years Experience Disappeared

Did High Sierra ranger Randy Morgenson succumb to depression or disaster?

Lost: True Tales of Wilderness Treks Gone Desperately Wrong

From snowblindness to wrong turns, everyday wilderness adventures can turn ugly if you're not prepared for everything.

Learning About Survival Where Aron Ralston Outwitted Death

Follow correspondent Kevin Fedarko into the remote Utah slot canyon where Ralston famously separated himself from his right forearm.

Lost & Found

John Donovan disappeared in a high-elevation blizzard, leaving rescuers and friends stumped. His backpack contained a miracle clue. Bill Donahue investigates.

How to Stay Safe in the Wilderness

Retracing the route to people's accidents can help us prevent our own. These 10 trips lead you to the exact locations of disasters from Denali to the Grand Canyon.

Species We Can Kiss Goodbye

These dozen creatures are threatened by global warming.

Rising Tides Threaten Classic Trails

Headed for the coasts? Keep those Tevas handy. Swelling oceans are threatening to submerge classic trails.

Super Poison Ivy is Coming

More potent poison ivy is on the way, plus fast-growing weeds that will change the face of Eastern forests.

The Future of Forests

As the earth warms, here's how higher temps will affect our forests.

Minnesota's Boundary Waters Face Extermination By Climate Change

As temperatures rise, Minnesota's North Woods will likely go up in smoke.

Escape From Unfriendly Natives

On the trail black bears, skunks, grizzlies, rattlesnakes, and ticks are not your friend. Learn how to side-step them.

How to Build a Never-Fail Campfire

Where campfires are allowed, it's important to know how to build–and put out–flames properly.

Packing List: Survival Gear List

Always be prepared for adversity with these pieces of gear.

Calculate Trouble

Time is of the essence in the backcountry. Learn how long it will take an impending thunderstorm or avalanche to find you.

18 Sudden Threats: The Right and Wrong Responses

Things happen fast in the wilderness. It's important to learn the right and wrong actions beforehand so you can react accordingly.

Survive a Mangled Ankle

Help yourself hike out after an ankle injury

How to Protect Your Heart While Hiking

Cardiac arrest is the number three killer in the outdoors&ndashlearn how to prevent, recognize, and treat trail-side heart issues.

How to Avoid Sudden Thaws

Warming temps can wreak havoc on snow-packed adventures. Learn the conditions and warning signs that can cause a dangerous, sudden thaw.

The World's Smartest Bears

Welcome to Yosemite, iconic American landscape, hikers' paradise, and all-you-can-eat home of the wiliest bruins on earth.

Survive This: Meeting a Menacing Stranger On the Trail

Learn how to avoid shady characters on the trail.

Quiz: Would You Survive?

The wilderness can be deadly if you don't know what you're doing. Take our test to rate your survival IQ—and learn a few skills that might save your hide.

Backcountry Survival: How to Survive in the Backcountry

There's a backcountry killer on the loose, and it's not hypothermia, grizzly bears, or rockfall. The thing mostly likely to maim you on your next hiking trip is living inside your head.

Freefall: Tragedy in the Grand Canyon

Arizona's Havasu Canyon is a hiker's paradise famed for its jaw-dropping waterfalls. But now there's trouble in paradise—serious trouble.

The Future Of National Parks

Everyone loves national parks--but are they being loved to death? Join representatives from the Park Service, Department of the Interior, Sierra Club, American Hiking Society, and more to explore the fate of this embattled American institution.

Good Gear Gone Bad

It's all fun and games 'til someone gets a tent pole in the eye.

High-Altitude Blues

Why do we bonk at 14,000 feet?

Cold Sleepers vs. Hot Sleepers

One camper sweats and another shivers. What's the deal?

A Better Mouse Trap

Rodents can be real pests in campsites. Use this trick to stay rodent-free the whole trip long.

The Global Warming Tour 2003

The ultimate guide to greenhouse adventure, featuring 8 surprising new trips, acres of virgin terrain, and a peek at the future of North American wilderness.

Touched By A Grizzly

Can anyone really know what lurks in the heart of a grizzly? In the wilds of Russia's Kamchatka peninsula, Charlie Russell believes he is beginning to find out.

Foot Mechanic Quiz: Fixing Foot Problems Before The Hike

Do your foot troubles warrant an expert's opinion? Take this quiz to find out.

Dead Flashlight Battery Blues

Keep your flashlights and headlamps alive longer with these trail tips.

Trapped! The Mike Turner Story

Deep in Wyoming's Wind River Range, an accident with a sliding boulder makes a hiker confront his life, his fate, and his faith in God.

Healthy Hiking For Men: Preventing Jock Itch And Other Problems 'Down There'

A wilderness guide to proper care and maintenance of the family jewels.

Know Your Backcountry Bugs

Guide to common bugs in the backcountry.

Tips For Safe Travel

Planning an overseas backpacking trip? Here's a few tips to prepare you before you go.

Your Backwoods Pharmacy

When illness or injury strikes, the medicine you need is in the plants alongside the trail and at your feet.

Avalanches: The Big Slide

Watching snow fall is a backcountry joy--unless it's barreling 80 mph down a mountain and you're in its path.

Rash Decisions: Fighting Backcountry Itches

Here's what I keep in my first-aid kit to battle the itchiest rash known to medical science.

The Urge To Fly

Do you ever have the urge to step off the edge and fly like a bird?

The View No More

How America's tragedy affected one New Jersey hiker.

Blazing Trails: Avoid Wildfires

Here's a handy tip to avoid wildfires in the backcountry.

Lost Soul Or Yukon Slasher?

When you're deep in the wilds, a bedraggled stranger wandering into camp triggers a moral dilemma: Offer him dinner or run for the hills?

Coping with Leeches

How to deal with and treat those bloodsucking leeches.

Bug Bite Evasion Therapy

What's the best way to treat bug bites? Don't get bit in the first place.

Hike To Protect Wilderness From Drilling

How many miles of trail or acres of wilderness will we sacrifice for a tank of gas? Here's a look at eight threatened wildernesses and what you can do to stop the drilling.

Belly Ache Or Poison?

What to do if the berries you munched weren't safe after all.

Firewalking: A Forest Fire's Aftermath

In an ancient cycle older than man, the fires that torched the West in summer 2000 are causing a dramatic and stunning rebirth of the once-charred landscape.

Hiking Through Lessons Of Fire

Years and even decades after a forest fire, the healed land tells amazing tales about the benefits of flame.

Lightning Survival Update

If you're caught in a lightning storm on the trail, head for the hills.

Bacteria In Paradise

On your next tropical dip, beware of water-borne bacteria.

Guarding Your Grub

Above treeline, there's no easy way to hoist your vittles.

Another Tick-Borne Disease

You can add another disease to those you might get from ticks: ehrlichiosis.

Avoiding Snakes: Nature's Evil Twins

Some species look alike, but guess wrong and you could have a harmful mistake on your hands.

Poison Ivy, Bees and Wasps

Do you know your backcountry poisonous threats?

Hypothermia: Just The Facts

Quick Tips to Prevent, Recognize, and Treat Hypothermia.

Bears And The "Blend In" Theory

New research suggests that bear bells don't work, and colorful tents and clothing may attract bruins.

Horsepacking: A New Breed?

Some well-meaning, leave-no-trace horsepackers are trying to rein in their environmentally uncouth brethren. The question is: can they change practices and attitudes that date back to the wild west days?

Wildlife Myths And Manners

When you have park visitors asking such questions as, "The animals aren't really wild, are they?" you have a recipe for disaster.

Wind Chill Bites

Wind chill can nip noses or lead to frostbite. Here's what you should know.

Bear Spray: Packin' Heat

It's basically pepper in an aerosol can, and it's supposed to stop a charging grizzly. But will it? Here's everything you need to know.

Beware The Hobo Spider

Its bite is more than painful -- it could be deadly.

Lightning Tips

Where not to be during lightning.

A Hair-Raising Experience

Why two commonly held lightning-safety beliefs could get you fried, plus expert advice.

Polar Bears: Big, White... And Harmless?

If you run into the big white bears, should you be scared?

Mosquitoes: Avoiding Alaska's Winged Plague



The Bear Facts in Great Smoky

There are scads of bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- so don't forget these tips.

Avoiding Mosquitoes

Ah, spring, the season of the blessed bloom-and maddening mosquitoes. If you don't like slathering yourself in DEET, then you'd better learn how to avoid the pests.

Bonus Backcountry Bug-Off Tips

Other tips to beat the most annoying backcountry biters.

Alternative To Bug Spray: Permethrin

Another bug-beating option.

American Climber Alex Lowe Presumed Dead

After hours of searching through ice chunks and piles of snow on Shishapangma Mountain, searchers have called off an avalanche rescue mission to find American climbers Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges.

Preserving Hiking Trails: Acting Selflessly

What have you done lately for the trails and backcountry you use? Join a Volunteer Vacation and save the trails you love.

Editor's Choice: Bowman Lake, Glacier National Park

Bears electrify an already incredible experience at Glacier National Park's Bowman Lake.

Make Way For Animals

We love watching wildlife, but follow these tips to stay safe.

Wildlife Body Language

When faced with a large, testy animal, it pays to know whether it's saying, "Hi there" or "I'm about to shred your lungs."

Of Mice And Lyme Disease

Stay away from mice out on the trail, and you'll stay away from disease-carrying ticks.

Poison Ivy: Plant World Darth Vaders

Believe it or not, poison ivy isn't all bad -- but it's still best avoided. Here's how.

Hypothermia 101

As the temperature dips, hypothermia can threaten survival for backwoods adventurers unaware of its warning signs.

Homemade Bear Bag

A homemade bear bag will make sure your provisions stay safe from hungry critters.

Insect Stings: What's Bugging You?

If the thought of a spider bite or bee sting makes your skin crawl, then preventing a painful encounter is the key.

Mountain Lions: Return Of The Ghost Cat

The mountain lion is the only North American predator that occasionally stalks humans. Do you have anything to fear?

Big Bad Wolves?

On their own and with help from the government, wolves are reclaiming their former range. Should you worry?

Bear Bagging Your Food

Keep your food away from hungry bears.

Facing Grizzly Bear Fears

Hiking in grizzly territory requires preparation, respect, and a clear head. A little luck doesn't hurt, either.

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