I was out for a day hike today and realized I missed something. This got me thinking that we could generate a little discussion about preparedness based on my experience today. To make it interesting, let's make it a casual contest. Contest: critique my preparedness for a simple day-hike. Include what I did well and what I did poorly (take your gloves off). Rules: 1. One entry per person. Entry should specify what I did well and what I didn't do well. You will not hurt my feelings by calling me an idiot; you will not get bonus points by suggesting I should have been an Eagle Scout. I encourage you to be specific. Entries that state, "you should have been better prepared" will not be taken seriously. Once you submit your critique, that's it, you cannot edit your post or entry (I didn't get to edit my readiness once I was on the trail, you have to commit to your critique and then live with it.) Please title your entry response "Critique". Any edited posts will be disregarded. 2. You can ask questions before submitting your critique, I'll answer as well as I'm able; I'll try not to lie; everyone will see my response. I'll provide some basic information below, but I will likely leave out some details and information (accidentally or intentionally.) 3. From the best 5 critiques, I'll randomly pick a winner--unless there are fewer than 5 decent critiques, in which case I'll just pick a winner. I'm not an expert, so this will be based on my somewhat amature opinion, but I suspect we'll get a consensus of sorts. Those who answer earlier are more likely to make the final 5--decisiveness counts in survival situations. 4. Contest ends at some random time; I'll decide that too. This puts a bit of pressure on those who might want to wait to use other people's critiques to inform their own. Besides, Mother Nature is fickle and random, ya never know when your survival experience will end. 5. This contest is in no way fair, but that's life, isn't it? This is just meant to be fun and promote a little discussion, please don't take it too seriously. We can all teach each other here. Prize: $50 gift certificate to Cabella's, LL Bean, or REI (you pick, I have no affiliation with any of these retailers) just to make it interesting. The Scenario, mostly true, and not embellished more than a typical Westerner's tale: This morning I spontaneously decided to go for a short day hike. The temperature was 30º F and there was some low fog. I expected to hike about 5-6 miles along a known trail with occasional side excursions off the trail to check stuff out. I was starting out at 4000' and expected to get to a max elevation of 6000'. I told my wife I was taking the dog out for a walk and we'd be back at sometime. I grabbed my daypack from the hall closet, tossed in a water bottle, some jerky, put on a vest, and headed out. Here's the view from around 4,500 feet: The climb requires a little exertion, but is not technical. Unfortunately, I did twist my right knee while traversing some loose scree. I'm solidly middle-aged and don't bounce back the way I used to, so that annoyed me a bit. Of course, being stubborn, I kept going up. I got a little sweaty and took off my vest. At that point I took a shot of my pack and contents along with climbing partner: Now that I look at the photo, I see my green platic water bottle has rolled under my fleece vest. Not shown are two 1-gallon plastic bags (to clean up dog waste) and a small zip-lock bag of beef jerky (1oz). I was wearing trail shoes, wool socks, nylon hiking shorts, a long sleeve T-shirt, and a waxed canvas hat with a decent brim. Pockets were empty, sheath for the Terrasaur was on my nylon belt. I used a cell phone to take the pictures, but cell phone reception was spotty at best. Here is the terrain I was walking through: Typical Rocky Mountain forest on Fall day. Fairly dry, but there was a light frost on the ground...until the sun burnt it off. Dog had a good time as we tried to track down some chipmunks and deer. We had the woods to ourselves, even though opening day was last Saturday! OK, that's the background scenario. How did I do? Obviously I made it home, same day, and am able to type as badly as ever. But was I being prudent or could I have been better prepared and made better decisions?