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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Out in the Woods

   A lot of the time when I have been out in the country, woods, desert or forest I haven't had much more than the cloths on my back and a knife. The reason is because I've chosen to go out there like this to challenge myself. That doesn't mean you need to do it this way. Even if your just going for a day hike and you are 100% sure that you will be back to your car way before nightfall, THINK AHEAD!
   You'd be surprised at how many things can go wrong within a mile of your starting point! Can you crawl a mile? Been there, done that and believe me, it ain't as easy as it sounds! The difference between life and death, or at least, being able to walk out of the forest on your own instead of having Search and Rescue come and drag you out is a few simple thoughts.
    ALWAYS think the worst is going to happen! You go for a short nature walk with your grandkids. What happens if you trip and break your leg? Are your grandkids going to be able to find their way back to your starting point, find someone and describe where you're at? Maybe, maybe not. You going to trust your life on that gamble? Make sure someone knows where you're going and what time you expect to be back. It might seem like over kill but make yourself a hiking pack. It doesn't have to be a big one, even a little fanny pack (as dumb as they look) will work. Think about spending the night in the woods, what is the least you think you can get by with. I have a belt pack I take that has a canteen and a belt knife. I always take something to munch on be it a few pieces of jerky or just a couple of candy bars. All ways make sure you have something to start a fire with. I'm lazy a lot of the time and carry a few disposable lighters. I also have a film can that I carry matches in. Take a whistle, it might seem weird but people can hear and home in on the sound of a whistle better than a person yelling. Those little space blankets are real handy. They don't do much to keep you warm unless you can totally roll up in one like a big silver burrito but they do work as a ground cloth and can keep you semi dry if you get caught in the rain. A good size piece od string is always a good thing to have. You can do everything from tying up your space blanket to make a lean-to, too improvising a splint. Don't forget a knife! Even a small pocket knife will cut fire wood, just make sure it's sharp! Dull knifes cut more people than sharp ones because you need less force to use them and they are easier to control.
   Know where you're going! Check a map of the area you want to hike in and formularize yourself with the area. I like to do that and try to carry a compass with me. No matter how turned around I get as long as I have a general idea of the area and a compass I know that if I keep heading in a certain direction I will at least find a road. 
   If you do find yourself lost or even turned around , STOP! Calm down and think. It's not the end of the world and you don't need to running through the woods. If you are for sure lost then the best thing you can do is stay right where you are. Yes your starting point might only be a half mile away but unless you are positive of the direction you will just make things worse if you keep wondering in the wrong direction. I'd much rather suffer the embarrassment of being found a half mile from the camp than put everyone to the trouble of having to do a full on search and rescue. If someone doesn't find you by dark don't panic, make yourself as comfortable as possible, gather some fire wood, build a little fire and relax and enjoy the stars, they will find you!