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Roughing it in the wild

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POSTED June 24, 2013 12:39 a.m.

Last week in this column, we talked about luxury in wilderness settings, like fancy mountain lodges, or white water raft trips that featured crystal stemware, linen tablecloths, anf even a sommelier to properly open and serve the right after dinner wine. This week, I thought I’d explore the opposite end of the spectrum: survival techniques that you might use to keep you alive if you should unexpectedly find yourself injured or stranded in the wilderness. Actually spending time in the wild is probably one of the safest pastimes of all, but the possibility still exists that something totally out of the blue might happen that could leave you stranded without food water, shelter, or medical care. Even in this age of amazing technology there are still plenty of spots where you get no cell phone service and your Notebook or i-phone is useless.

A couple years ago my wife and I were driving to visit family in Arizona. We happened upon a freak storm and some flash floods out in the desert near the California – Arizona border. Almost without warning, the dips and low spots in the desert highway were turned a dry road into swiftly flowing rivers, where the water came up to the doors of our car. It’s a really scary feeling when your car begins to drift sideways in the current. We were fortunate enough to make it to the next town and get a hotel room to wait out the flash floods.

If you’re going to be traveling through wild country it’s a really good idea to carry a few basics that will provide for your food, water, shelter, and medical needs in a pinch. Particularly in the summer months I always carry several gallon jugs of water in my vehicles. You never know when you might blow a radiator hose. It’s also prudent to carry a couple extra quarts of oil and transmission fluid in your car as well. I usually have at least one tarp for emergency protection from rain or sun, as well as a couple wool military surplus blankets.

Many of the bigger outdoor retailers now sell survival packs filled with food water and first aid supplies. You can pick from an individual pack all the way up to a month supply for a family of four. I also carry a 22 caliber survival rifle that folds up into a package that will fit nicely under your front seat. It could put squirrels or rabbits in your stewpot until you get rescued. Naturally you’ll want to customize your survival kit to include items tailored to your health needs, such as insulin, asthma inhalers, nitroglycerin tablets, or blood pressure medicine.

Even when I’m hunting, I carry a small survival fanny pack that has fire starting material, basic first aid gear and a space blanket to keep you from freezing to death. I was once bear hunting in a Sierra canyon and so engrossed in tracking a bear that when the sun went down I was 5 or 6 miles from my truck. I dug a 6 foot long pit on a sand bar, filled it with wood and after cooking my trout and coffee, covered the hot coals over with sand. By sleeping on the sand under my space blanket the heat filtered up slowly all night and kept me toasty warm.

If you carry an emergency supply in your vehicle, you may never need it, but just having it there will give you extra peace of mind so you can enjoy your journey without worry. Don’t leave home without it.

Until Next Week,

Tight Lines

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