Survival & Preparedness
Survival and preparedness are the most often overlooked aspects of any outdoor adventure. Regardless of your level of experience or the degree of difficulty you choose to undertake, sooner or later you will be forced into a survival situation. One of the survival books I have recently read made mention that we have become aliens on our own planet. It’s a deep and profound statement if you really think about it. How many people do you know that could (or would even try) to function without a cell phone, credit cards, television, the internet, fast food, or the grocery store? The writer went on to say that statistically, the degree of danger is much higher at an ATM late at night in a big city than it is in the wilderness if you are prepared.
The fact is, no matter how well we prepare there will always be factors beyond our control. Mechanical failure, forces of nature, and human behavior are difficult to predict and impossible to control. With that in mind, the question shifts from “what if”, to “will I be prepared when I’m faced with adversity?” It’s surreal to realize that a stocking cap, a book of matches, and a bottle of water could save your life.
A few years ago I was elk hunting with a friend. We parked our 4-wheelers and started tracking our quarry. Before we knew it, more than an hour had elapsed and we were a fair distance from our point of origin. After spending another hour back-tracking and piecing together our ascent, it started getting dark. There we were, 2 seasoned outdoorsmen, wandering around in circles. We made the decision to follow a stream downhill until we hit a road. We walked into camp at nightfall and set about planning the retrieval of our ATV’s. Although we made many mistakes, we knew enough to get back to camp and admit defeat before we were forced to spend an intimate night together on the mountain.
The best way to prepare yourself is through education. Read everything you can about real-life survival situations and practice the techniques you learn with your family. There is a wealth of information available in books and on the internet. I have found that although some books are better than others, I can almost always extract useful information from any publication.
The moral of the story? Take extra clothing, food, water, a survival kit, plan for every contingent and a map everywhere you go (at the minimum, and regardless of the weather), and be sure your friends and family know your itinerary. It may well be a matter of life and death.