Backpack application, pretest and opinion survey

The De Anza College Outdoor Club uses this application and survey to see if we are all on somewhat the same wavelenght before a Yosemite backpacking trip.

Because of De Anza’s Risk Management we have to follow more rules than some people like and they
should probably not backpack with us.

Outsiders finding this online can feel free to use some or all of it for their group, but it is copyrighted (2015) so don’t use it for profit.

People doing high altitude trips or major climbs would get a great deal of use from the book CLIMBING:
Expedition Planning, The Mountaineers Books.


Yes / No   I have camped for more than one week at a time.

Yes / No   I have camped in snow.

Yes / No   I have camped during prolonged rain.

Yes / No   I have backpacked for more than one week at a time.

Yes / No   I have backpacked in snow.

Yes / No   I have backpacked during prolonged rain.

Yes / No  I have hiked more than 5 miles in one day

Yes / No   I have hiked more than 10 miles in one day

Yes / No   I have backpacked more than 5 miles in one day

Yes / No  I have backpacked more than 10 miles in one day


Circle which elevation(s) you have experience

(C) camping   (H) hiking or  (B) backpacking at?

C H B   sea level or near it (Silicon valley, for example)

C H B   4000′ (Yosemite Valley, for example)

C H B   6000′ (Little Yosemite Valley, above Nevada Fall)

C H B   9000′ (Tuolumne Meadows)

C H B   10,000′ or more


When was your last tetanus booster?

(never)   (don’t know)

or ________ (a booster within five years of the trip
might be recommended by your doctor.)

What medications are you taking?

What medical conditions do you have?

List anything you are allergic to:

Club campsites are non-smoking, and smoking is not allowed while moving along a trail in Yosemite or in
flammable areas. Do you smoke? Y / N

I am

(c)   currently, (r)   recently-within the last two years, (f)  formerly certified in:

first aid  c / r / f

C.P.R.  c / r / f

lifeguard training   c / r / f

EMT   c / r / f


The club will not provide food, but in case people want to share food,

Choose: are you vegan,

lacto-ovo (vegie plus milk, eggs) vegetarian,

semi- vegetarian (vegies plus____________________),


Do you have any food allergies or foods you will not eat?

T / F   I know how to use a gas stove

T / F   I know how to use a propane stove

T / F   I know how to repair the stove I intend to use

T / F   I know how to cook on a camp stove

T / F  I know how to cook over/in a fire without burning everything

T / F  I know how to use a water purifying pump

T / F   I know how to repair the pump I intend to use

T / F   I know how to read a topographical map, including orienting it to a compass

What are the mistakes you have made hiking, backpacking or camping?


Outdoor Club Yosemite Backpack pretest and opinion survey (notice that many of these are your opinions not of how you would do a prefect backpack trip of your own, but how you would do a club group event including beginners)


1) On a regular camping trip everyone could bring their own camera, but backpackers often share heavy items.
Rank these in order of priority (your opinion, 1 thru 5) for a large group to bring and share

(put a line through any you would not bring, circle any you would bring but not share):

_____really good camera and telephoto, etc. lenses

______ frying pan

_____very small lantern

______very long extension cord

_______really good first aid kit

_______one more stove than the minimum needed to make cooking more convenient when everybody is
hungry at once

_______backpacker’s oven

_____small pair of binoculars

_______video camera

______ cell phone

________ hiker’s global positioning system

______deck of cards


_______ fly fishing outfit


_____sunshower (15 liter bag you fill with water, hang from a tree until it gets warm, and have a shower)

_______ citronella candle to keep away bugs

________inflatable kayak or other boat

_______capuccino maker

____Other (describe)


2) When we’re packed up in the morning and about ready to start hiking, if the faculty advisor says “Did
everybody drink at least a liter of water so far this morning?” you would be likely to:

a) roll your eyes heavenward and sigh quietly

b) throw your hands up in the air, groan audibly

c) plan on always being somewhere else when it seems like Mary will start this

d) say “Why, yes I have, because being dehydrated is a usually overlooked cause of problems for
backpackers and I already flossed my teeth today in case I’m too tired in the evening”

e) none of the above (describe)


Some sites you can backpack to have outhouses, but most of the time you need to dig a hole to bury fecal

3) It should be______ inches deep.

4) It should be__________feet from any water like a creek or stream.


You just named a number of feet in distance, when you are out in the wilderness, how can you tell how far
that is?


5) To deal with used toilet paper, you should

a. not use it, only use leaves and pine needles

b. be sure to bury the toilet paper in the very bottom of the hole you dug

c. put the toilet paper on top of the hole with a rock over it so it can biodegrade faster

d. pack out the toilet paper in your trash bag


6) You don’t always have to camp at a particular destination, such as designated backpacker’s area, but such
areas may have plumbed clean water, outhouses and nearby backcountry Ranger stations (a tent) or High
Sierra camp in case of emergencies.

If you decide to camp someplace else along the trail you should be
____ miles from any populated area and ____ miles from any road.


Of these food storage methods:

a) bear-resistant food~canister,

b) bear poles or cables,

c) counter-balance tree hanging,

d) sleeping away from regularly used areas, where you can sleep with your
food in your tent

7) which do you have experience with?

8) which is foolproof?

9) which is required in parts of Yosemite park?

10) which is strongly recommended by Yosemite?

11) which was recommended by the “famous” author of a long trail backpacking book, but is actually


12) Your campsite should be ______ feet from water.


13) choose any that are true about backpacking campsites

a) You should use a “campsite” someone already used, that is, an area already well established

b) as long as you’re careful where you walk and how you pitch your tent, you can even camp in a meadow

c) you can make a new campsite where there is bare ground, or just lots of pine needles

d) It’s okay to build rock walls, benches etc. where people have already built some

e) your campsite should be in an area screened from the trail

f) as long as it is 50 feet from the trail it doesn’t matter if it’s in plain view from the trail

g) aside from the rules about distance from populated areas or roads, and distance from lakes, etc. there are
no places you can’t camp in the backcountry


14) We can backpack on regular trails in groups of up to 15 people. When we try some “peak bagging” or
off-trail (more than 1/4 mile) travel, we should break up into groups no more than_____ people, to prevent
damage to the landscape, and preserve the essence of the off-trail experience for others in the area. To be
safe we should travel off-trail with a minimum of______ people.


15) T / F   In the middle of a nice hot summer we could have snowfall.

16) T / F   Afternoon thundershowers and lightning are common where we are going, so any hikes to the top
of peaks (“peak bagging”) should be done in the early hours of the morning

17) You won’t carry a big toiletry kit while backpacking, but you might want one for a hot shower after.
Where do you store it, your ice chest, and any extra food while you are backpacking?


18) choose any that are true about campfires

a) make a fire ring on bare dirt, sweep away any pine needles from at least 3 feet around the fire ring

b) don’t make a new fire ring, use only ones already made

c) be sure your fire ring is far enough from the trail or water (streams, etc.), just like your tent space

d) the use of campstoves is encouraged, but campfires are mostly allowed

e) the ecosystems in alpine areas can’t support the impact of firewood gathering, so fires are prohibited
above 9,600 feet

f) as long as you collect wood at a lower elevation, and pack it up higher, you can have a fire on top of any

g) dry dead branches on trees make good dry wood, better than stuff on the ground, and are recommended
for use

h) make small fires, with logs no bigger than the fire ring

i) put the fire completely out using as little water as possible

j) put out the fire completely using lots of water

k) put out the fire completely by covering it with dirt


19) After swimming while backpacking are you more likely to use:

A) a small bath towel

B) a couple of lightweight, quicker drying cloth diapers

C) a bandanna or your spare T shirt

D) just drip-dry


20) T / F biodegradable soap does not pollute


21) Backpacking books recommend various “essentials.” Of the following, which are really important for
each person to have one of, and which can be shared by two people who intend to hike together?

Water bottle   own / share

knife   own / share

waterproof matches   own / share

compass   own / share

map  own / share

flashlight (electric torch)  own / share

minimum first aid kit   own / share

Explain why you think the ones you listed as shareable are:


22) To determine how far away lightning is hitting, count the seconds between the lightning flash and the
thunder. If you count 10 seconds, how far away is the storm?


23) It’s safest from lightning (choose any that apply):

a)   in a shallow cave

b)  under a big rock overhang

c)  under the one tall tree out in a meadow

d)  in a forest of the same height trees

e)  at lower elevations

f)   in the water

g)   away from any objects that conduct electricity


24) A lot of Yosemite backpacking is around 8,500 feet (but the top of some peaks are at 10,000 feet.)

Choose any that are true:

a) most people on this trip will lose their appetite at least a little, but should try to eat some anyway

b) most people’s bodies will start to adapt to less oxygen immediately, but some will not adapt

c) your heart will beat more quickly and you will hyperventilate a little to meet the demands of altitude

d) most people who actually become ill will do so in the first few days

e) you can hike at a higher altitude during the day, but it’s important to sleep lower. Because of this people
can go to the top of a peak, then back down to make camp, but should not try sleeping on top until two or three
nights into a trip.

f) acute mountain sickness symptoms start to appear six to 72 hours after arrival at altitude, and include the
aforementioned lack of appetite, headaches, disturbed sleep

g) High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (H.A.P.E.–a life-threatening abnormal fluid accumulation in the lungs)is not possible at the 8-9,000 feet elevation we will be traveling

h) H.A.P.E. is possible. Symptoms begin 24-96 hours after ascent, and start out the same as mountain
sickness, then progress to extreme shortness of breath, and weakness, at first when going uphill, then when
on level ground. Nail cyanosis may be apparent. They may cough up frothy blood tinged sputum.


25) What is the first aid for H.A.P.E.?


26) How can you prevent, limit or treat acute mountain sickness?

Choose any that are true:

a) drink lots of water

b) eat a high carbo diet (requires less oxygen for metabolism)

c) take sleeping pills (they decrease respiratory rates)

d) eat fats and proteins more on layover days and in the morning rather than the evening

e) climb high, sleep low

f) take it easy the first day

g) aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen are okay for the headache


27) should people be required to bring a real rain jacket and pants, or is a floppy poncho okay?

A) it’s none of my business what people do

B) people should be encouraged to bring gear that functions well in prolonged rain

C) it should be required

D) other (explain)


Use the following to answeer questions 28, 29 and 30:

a)   bear attack     b)   lightning

c)   altitude sickness    d)   forest fire

e)  hypothermia     f)  heat stroke

g)  rockfall    h)  moving water

i)   sudden heavy rainstorms    j)   dehydration

k)   impure water     1)   getting lost

m)  being too tired in the evening to make that fancy dinner you had planned, or even to eat enough

n)   some seemingly minor goofing around that gets out of hand and ends up hurting someone, and possibly
endangering the whole group

28) What’s the one most likely to kill people backpacking, camping, or doing other outdoor activities?


29) The biggest risk you think you face on a backpacking trip is from:


30) What’s the second biggest?



31) Giardia-rated water purifying pumps are the only easy way to go. If yours breaks, how long should you
boil water for?


When a group backpacks together, some people think everyone should be responsible for each other, others
figure everybody should take care of themselves, other people have opinions in between.

32)If someone forgets to pack any or enough sunscreen: (choose any that are true)

A)  Everyone should have to share with that person, so they won’t get burnt, even if it means the people
sharing might run out by the last day

B)  the person should wear long sleeve shirts, even if it’s hot, wear a bandanna over the back of their neck,
etc., and basically take care of their own problem, but people could share with them if they thought they had
enough extra

C)   other: (describe)

33)If your water purifier clogs or breaks, and you didn’t bring a repair kit, but someone else did for theirs:

A)   they should have to give you the spare parts you need, because you need them now, and they might not
need them at all

B)  you could borrow another person’s pump occasionally when you need it

C)   other (describe)


34) When someone in the group wants to do something you think is too dangerous, which would be your

A) it’s none of my business to stop them

B) It’s none of my business to stop them unless I think their actions would endanger others

C) I might think something was wrong, but I would have a hard time saying or doing something about it, so I
would try to get someone else to agree with me and we could confront the person together

D) I would point out what is wrong, and just restate my case until I wear them down

E) hiding people’s gear so they can’t do whatever it is, is reasonable

F) other (explain)


35) Above Vernal Fall in Yosemite, there is a natural waterslide into a pool on the river and a sign that
reads: “By federal regulation this area is closed to – sliding into water – wading across river – walking across
slippery surfaces. These activities frequently cause life threatening injury after impact with submerged rock.
Violators will be cited and charged for rescue. Parents/guardians are financially responsible.”

There may not be any signs of this sort where the Outdoor Club is backpacking, but people have
been charged for rescue even without signs. As far as this backpacking trip goes: (choose any that apply)

A) Swimming should only be allowed with a lifeguard who is actually guarding

B) swimming can be okay if there is a lifeguard present, but he/she can be playing and swimming, too

C) it’s okay for people to swim without a lifeguard, but only if they don’t swim alone

D) if you are 18 or more it’s your business how and when you swim

E) if you are 21 or more it’s your business how and when you swim

F) sliding into the river on a natural rock waterslide should not be allowed because someone could get
knocked out and we are too far from easy help

G) sliding should not be allowed even along the river by a main road where help is more quickly

H) if you are 18 it’s your business whether you take risks

I) if you are 21 it’s your business whether you take risks


36) While hiking in to our base camp the first day:

A) Everyone should be able to hike alone, at their own pace

B) People should be willing to hike in twos, so if someone gets hurt it will be more easily dealt with and less
likely to spoil everyone’s trip

C) We should plan a couple of mandatory stops at specific places so the slowest people can catch up

D) We could plan a couple of optional stops at specific places so people might catch up, but if we wanted to
go on and not wait, we could

E) We should make any creek crossings together.

F) To make sure no one gets lost, we should wait at any trail crossing or trail branch

G) We could have a designated last person

H) everybody should hike in a line behind the faculty advisor like a string of baby ducks


37) What’s the first thing/most important thing/ most necessary thing to do when you get to camp?

A) There really isn’t anything special as long as you get there early enough, you can just go sightseeing

B) get your tent up in case a thunderstorm hits so it will be easier to keep gear dry

c) purify some extra water so you have some to share when others pull in late and tired

d) soak your legs for twenty minutes in a cold stream (just like you would ice a muscle injury)

d) other (describe)


38) Everybody gets dirty backpacking. Beginners are sometimes surprised by how dirty they get. Cleanliness
is a personal issue, but some people have strong opinions such as:

A) nobody should wash hair because the soap/shampoo laden rinse water is not good for the soil and you
can get by for a few days

B) nobody should wash clothes for the same reasons as in A

C) I don’t want to travel with people who smell bad

D) I don’t want to share a tent with people who smell bad

E) other:


39) for this trip would you prefer:

A) everybody has their own tent arrangements

B) everybody has their own sleeping arrangements, but are required to at least use a dome shaped tent with a
full rain fly instead of a tarp so others won’t have to squeeze them in when the tarp isn’t good enough in a

C) if it could save on the weight we carry, we could bring a giant tent that could sleep 8, and divide up the
parts (one person carries the fly, one the poles, etc. while others carry the stove, etc.)

D) other (explain)


40) I would prefer:

A) one group stove per ______ persons, none brought by individuals or couples for their own use

B) one stove per couple, and_____ per person for singles in the group

C) let people figure it out themselves

D) let people figure it out themselves, but nobody should expect to cook on a fire, they should be expected
to make plans for enough fuel for their own cooking

E) other (explain)


41) We should:

A) sleep in the main backpackers’ area, with our tents within sight of each other

B) sleep a little ways from the crowded area, but with our tents in sight of each other

C) pitch our tents in the same general location as far away from each other as we want, just so everybody
knows where everybody is

D) be able to sleep in a totally different area; the main group may have plans for a specific base camp, but a
couple of people might find someplace really nice to move to


42) I would prefer:

A) everybody eats the same thing

B) individuals or couples choose their own food, but we try to eat at the same time and place

C) mostly our own thing, but maybe one group dinner menu

D) pot-luck share food


43) We should:

A) bring bear-resistant cylinders for at least some of the food so we could at least eat breakfast before we
are forced to hike out because the bears got our food

B) bring all food in bear resistant cylinders

C) if they are available, put food in the metal food storage lockers in the main backpackers’ area

D) counterbalance hang food from tree limbs, so we don’t have to carry the weight of the bear containers,
and we don’t have to sleep in the heavily used area

E) other (describe)


44) when meeting to start the hike in:

A) have a set time to start and not wait for anyone ( except the faculty advisor, because we have no trip if
he/she doesn’t show)

B) have a set time to start and wait no more than 15 minutes for late people

C) other (describe)


45) T / F carrying one sleeping bag with your group each time you leave base camp for a day hike, some
peak bagging, and especially for rock climbing will give others considerable amusement, but not ever turn
out to be one of your best first aid investments

46) Why should you never wear cotton blue jeans or a cotton sweatshirt backpacking?

47) To cross a stream: (choose any that are true)

a) just hop quickly across where the actual trail crosses, it was picked as the safest place

b) you may have to go even a mile up or down stream

c) never cross or even wade for fun above a waterfall

d) undo your waist belt and sternum strap on your pack in case you fall in and have to take it off in a hurry

e) the first person across brings a rope and it is set up for the next people to be tied to for safety

f) take off your hiking boots, but wear something like rubber sandals with velcro at the ankle and heel on
your feet. The water is cold and can numb your feet quickly, plus you’ll have better footing on the slippery

g) you can tell how deep the water is by throwing large rocks in and listening to the different kerplunks

h) to wade with a pack through not quite knee deep water, do it with 2 to 4 partners all in a line, the
strongest person in front facing upstream, the people behind with their hands on each others shoulders or


48) if you do fall in, in relatively deep moving water, but not as deep as swimming depth: (choose any that
are true)

a) take the pack off, but hold on to it, there are too many important things in it to risk losing it

b) take the pack all the way off, you’ll find it later, and go downstream in a sitting position feet first so your
feet instead of your head will bounce off rocks


49) indicate your personal hiking style: (choose one or more)

a) hike fast and take regular long rests to catch breath

b) hike slow but keep going, stopping to take pictures or admire the view, but mostly just keep going

c) don’t stop to eat until you get to your destination

d) have maybe even two or three lunch stops

e) turn around and look behind you regularly, especially at trail crossings so you will recognize the right way

f) cut across switchbacks if you are careful and a strong enough hiker to do it

g) other: (describe)


50) T / F a packer and mules or a bunch of tourists on horses have priority over hikers or backpackers on the
trail. You should move uphill from the trail and remain quiet and still until they pass.


51) I have:

a)  never picked up anyone else’s trash I found along the trail

b)  sometimes picked up trash

c)   sometimes picked up trash, but I don’t do cigarette butts

d)  cleaned up everything I found along a stretch of trail so I could earn my Junior Ranger Badge

e)   cleaned up everything I found along a stretch of trail just to see other people’s strange looks

f)  never cleaned up anything backpacking because it’s too hard to bend over and pick up stuff with a heavy
pack on

g)  have cleaned foil and cans from fire rings

h)   haven’t really made an effort before, but I’11 say I will in the future if it helps me pass this test

i)  cleaned up used paper on the ground in a ‘toilet’ area

j)   competed with friends to see who could get the most/weirdest

k)  other (describe)


52) T / F It is against the law to throw rocks or anything else over cliffs, including viewpoints, in National
Parks but nobody has ever been below someone throwing things and actually died from it

53) You follow a mama ptarmigan and baby chicks, taking really cool pictures for you don’t know how long
and realize when you stop that you don’t recognize where you are. What would be your personal inclination
to do next?

a) turn around and head back immediately before you really get lost

b) stop, look around, walk a short distance in the direction you think you came to see if you can sight camp
or other people

c) if “b” doesn’t work, sit down and start blowing three blasts on your whistle until someone finds you

d) NEVER blow on a whistle for help, it would be just too embarrassing to have people find you that way,
especially the kind of people you usually hike with


54) We are at the trailhead (the start of our hike in) and we see that a backpack trip member is already
complaining about how their boots fit, has a cotton sweatshirt for their warm layer, and has a cheap, flimsy
rain poncho. Some trip members are saying that this person is unprepared and could endanger the others on
the trip if they get in trouble if weather hits, and should not be allowed to go with us.

What should we do?


Could we have required that everyone on the trip show their equipment to the advisor/trip leader in advance
instead of risking this situation happening?

A) this obviously would not happen if we had a good list of things to bring

B) if someone is over 18 it’s none of the club’s business to tell them what to do or bring

C) if someone is over 21 it’s none of the club’s business to tell them what to do or bring

D) yes (why?)


55) Many people think some park rules are really not important enough to follow.

For some it’s picking flowers (just one as a memento of the trip)

for others it’s where to camp (but it’s so pretty right next to the lake, and other people obviously have
camped there recently),

or we know that backpackers and day hikers always should pack out all their trash yet there are some trash
cans at the High Sierra Camps in the areas where we could travel. (Why not sneak some trash into the cans-
they won’t notice, and it will make our packs lighter on the way out.)

What are your unimportant rules?

Why are they unimportant?


Rumor has it that club faculty advisor Mary Donahue, who will be the faculty person on this trip, is anal
about safety. Can you go along with cheerfully following all park and De Anza rules for this trip, even if it
puts a crimp in your style or ruins your fun and individuality?


56) What did you learn from this test?

A) I’m not going on this trip

B) I already knew everything talked about on this test

C) other (describe)