If you slip on a loose stone, do not try to recover your lost ground quickly, but slip away until your foot is checked a few inches below. Thus keep up the rhythm of your footfall.
On an average mountain, where the slope is tolerably uniform, and the climber has no long journey before him, an ascent of 1,000 ft. in an hour is quick walking. In beginning a long climb, 800 ft. of vertical ascent in an hour is good work. On a good trail, for a moderate distance, 1,500 ft. an hour is quick walking. Under favorable conditions a good climber can ascend from a height of 7.000 ft. to 14,000 ft. in seven hours; at greater altitudes the pace will slacken.
In descending a mountain, the pace, however slow, should be continuous. To remain stationary, even for a moment, not only necessitates a fresh start, but demands an adjustment of balance which implies an unnecessary outlay of muscular effort. To descend rapidly and safely without exertion, a certain looseness of joints should be cultivated. On a steep slope one should descend sideways, so that the whole length of the foot can be planted fairly on any hold that offers.
A man will never sprain his ankle when he expects to do so at any moment, nor will he be likely to slip if he is always prepared to fall.
Returning to the subject of outfitting: I have, so far, considered only summer travel afoot. There are many who go out in the fall of the year, hunters especially, and who may wish to make side trips on their own hook. Captain Whelen has stated their case convincingly:
"There is much to be said in favor of back-packing. It increases many fold that sense of absolute freedom which is one of the fundamental reasons why men try to escape from civilization for a time. There is itone of that trouble and worry that we all experience when we have the responsibility of a pack-train. I admit that back-packing, especially in a mountainous country, is downright hard work; but it's work worthy of a man; and once you get into a game country, you have very much less work than has he who must be continually watching and caring for a band of horses. Moreover, the back-packer usually has better success. He drops into a new country quietly and unseen. There is none of that clatter of hoofs, jingle of horse-bells, and noise of chopping. Before the game comes to know that there is a human being in the cquntry, he has had his pick. . . .
The problem of transportation on a western big-game hunt is a constant one. The country is open, and one locality soon becomes hunted out. The reports of the rifles, the sound of axes, and the shouts as the horses are daily driven to camp, soon cause the game to leave for more healthful country. Hence camp must be moved from ten to twenty miles every three or four days. It has always seemed that one could hunt longer in one locality, and make these short journeys more easily, if he could forsake the pack-train for the back-pack. The latter method is a necessity when one wants to hunt a country inaccessible to horses. On some of my most successful hunts, from the standpoints both of recreation and of heads, I have hired a packer to take me in and bring me out, but in the meantime have carried my entire hunting where I would".
We may add that back-packing is the cheapest possible way to spend one's vacation in the wilderness.
The man who goes out alone for a week or so in the fall of the year, or at an altitude where the nights always are cold, should be fit to carry on his back from 40 to 50 pounds at the outset—of course the pack lightens as he consumes rations. I am not including weight of gun, cleaning implements, and ammunition. He should wear woolen underwear of medium weight, thick and soft woolen socks, army overshirt, kersey or moleskin trousers, leather belt with pockets (not loops) for clips or loose cartridges, hunting shoes of medium height for ordinary use, felt hat, and, at times, buckskin gloves. In his pack there would be a spare suit of underwear and hose, a cruiser or "stag" shirt of best Mackinaw, moccasins or leather-topped rubbers, and German socks. In pockets and on the belt he would carry the same articles mentioned in my summer hiking list.
A mere shelter cloth is too breezy for this season (there will be no opportunity to build a thatched camp, as the hunter will be on the move from day to day). He needs a half-pyramid tent, say of the Royce pattern (Vol. I., pp. 85-91) but somewhat smaller, and weighing not over 4 pounds.
Bedding is the problem; a man carrying his all upon his back, in cold weather, must study compactness as well as lightness of outfit. Here the points are in favor of sleeping-bag vs. blankets, because, for a given insulation against cold and draughts, it may be so made as to save bulk as well as weight. For a pedestrian it need not be so roomy as the standard ones, especially at the foot end. Better design one to suit yourself, and have an outfitter make it up to order, if you have no skill with the needle. An inner bag of woolen blanketing, an outer one of knotted wool batting, and a separate cover of cravenetted khaki or Tanalite—the weight need not be over 8 pounds complete. Your camp-fire will do the rest. A browse bag is dispensed with, for you will carry an axe and can cut small logs to hold in place a deep layer of such soft stuff as the location affords.
The short axe may be of Hudson Bay or Damascus pattern. There should be a small mill file to keep it in order, besides the whetstone.
The ration list is based on. the assumption that the hunter's rifle will supply him, after the first day or two, with at least a pound of fresh meat a day. If it does not, go elsewhere. There are plenty of good ways to cook without boiling, stewing, or loasting in an oven (see Vol. I.), which are processes that require vessels too bulky for a foot traveler to bother with.
Either the Whelen pack sack or a large Duluth one will carry the whole outfit. Both have the advantage that they can be drawn up to smaller dimensions as the pack decreases in size, or for carrying the day's supplies when most of the outfit is cached at or near camp.