Guest blog: How to react to wildfires while hiking

Firefighters hike on a road in front of an evergreen forest with burning underbrush.

“You’re on your own out there. Be prepared. There are tens of thousands of wildfires every year, and because of drought and our changing climate, they’re growing in number, size and intensity,” the Pacific Crest Trail Association shared recently on it’s “Backcountry Basics” blog.

  • Rule one: Don’t start a wildfire.
  • Rule  two: Be prepared with the knowledge and tools to react appropriately if a fire develops nearby.

Learn what to carry with you into the back country, fire area closures, and how to react if you encounter signs of fire or smoke on the trail, at this link

Source information: The Pacific Crest Trail Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the stewardship and support of one of America’s oldest and most recognizable national trail. The PCT was established by the National Trails Systems Act of 1968, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.


  • The photograph accompanying the article about being “on your own out there” shows a wildland firefighter carrying an unsheathed Pulaski tool over his shoulder. One of the first lessons I learned as a 19-year-old US Forest Service firefighter on the Toiyabe National Forest in 1962–and practiced/enforced throughout my wildland firefighting years–is NEVER to carry a hand tool with a cutting edge such as a shovel, Pulaski tool, or McLeod tool over your shoulder, ALWAYS pack it with your hand around the handle next to the metal component of the tool, always be in control of that tool, and when traversing a slope carry the tool on your downhill side. Please, for the sake of firefighter safety, tell me I am not out-of-date…at least not in this regard.

  • The photo documents real world conditions on an actual fire – but you aren’t wrong, that’s not the correct way to carry a Pulaski (or any bladed hand-tool). I’ve swapped it out for a photo that models proper technique!

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