Things to Bring
Remember the Rule of Threes
You can survive for:
Of course, surviving is not living well, so be careful out there!
Try not to be paranoid about these things--they are
Just be smart, and be prepared!
There is no substitute for common sense and experience.
Things you should not worry too much about are snakes, bears, poison ivy and ticks. In Pennsylvania, snakes are rare, and if you use trekking poles, they alone should make enough noise to keep them out of your way. If you are bitten, don't panic or use some 'witch doctor' first aid kit. Instead, walk slowly out of the woods and you'll be fine. If you do see a snake or hear a rattle, stop dead in you tracks, locate the snake slowly and carefully, and back away slowly.
Bears will try to stay away from you, and if you make noise, they'll find another way to where they are going. If you see a bear, don't run--this will trigger the bear's charging instinct. Instead, back away slowly and when you are at a safe distance, keep a steady pace instead of running. If you do find yourself in a fight with a bear, play dead. Black bears in Pennsylvania generally do not get too large, but they are very strong animals. Playing dead will get you out alive. If you are paranoid, there are pepper sprays available for use against bears, mostly for grizzlies. They are said to work effectively. Remember that bears are like really big dogs . . . they can smell just as well, and their bark is worse than their bite. For more information on bears, contact the DCNR representative in the area where you'll be hiking.
Know that no Appalachian hiker has ever died from either snake bite or bear attack. That's a pretty impressive statistic.
If you are troubled by poison ivy, there is a product called Ivy Block that is very effective. If you do get hit with the itch, though, try heat as a remedy. A hair dryer will stimulate the skin to release all of its histamine, and once depleted (after a few seconds) you'll get hours of relief.
Ticks can be a problem, and they love areas with tall grass. Check yourself for ticks after each hike. The ticks that transmit lyme disease are about the size of the head of a pin. Larger tick, just hit them with something hot, like the end of a match that you've just blown out. They'll let go. If you try to rip them out, their 'teeth' with get stuck in you and cause a lot of irritation.
If you start to experience symptoms after a few days or weeks like dizziness, fatigue and others associated with lyme disease, seek medical attention. Lyme disease is treatable if caught early.