Monday, September 6, 2010

The Test

Sorry for taking so long since my last post, but I've been gone on a trip that convinced me to write this one. It was no big deal, really — just a backpack trip, but it was a good reminder of what might occur in the even of a disaster that requires our evacuation by means other than vehicle.

What if you had to throw your 72-hour kit on your shoulders and hike several miles to a safe location…could you do that?

And when you got to that safe location, could you set up a camp with all the necessities just by pulling them out of your pack? I mean, is your pack equipped with everything you need, or are there holes in your inventory?

On this particular backpack trip, I found a couple of spots in my own inventory that needed to be filled. It wasn't "life or death" kind of stuff, but it was a few items that would definitely make life better in a remote camp.

We were a group of 5 adults and 5 young children (one only 17 months old), so there were challenges associated with a broad range of ages and a pretty sizeable group. The hike included some extremely steep terrain in places, so we had to deal with getting the little ones up and down a couple hundred feet of very challenging bluffs.

The weather was misty and windy, so we had a chance to utilize the natural terrain features and foliage to shelter our camp. And the dampness created a challenge for finding dry tinder, kindling and fuel wood, as well as testing our ability to get a fire going with just a striker. In a future post, I'll let you know about the innovative way we got fire going under those condition — it was a first for me.

Where we were, there were zero amenities such as toilets and freshwater. There was no cell coverage, so there was no such thing as calling for help on a phone. It was basically what one might experience if all the civilized services were suddenly cut off and you were left to fend for yourself with just what you could carry on your back.

So, I propose a test. What I'm suggesting is that we all take a 3-day backpacking trip that involves hiking a few miles (be fair to yourself in this test and go maybe 5 miles or so), setting up camp and living there without running back home or to your vehicle to snatch something you forgot. This is the only way to discover the holes in your inventory.

And, it will give you a chance to actually eat some of the emergency rations you've stocked away for an emergency, and discover how to prepare the food so it's edible.

I'd like to hear from readers about your experiences as you put yourself through this little test. Tell me what you learned, the kind of things you discovered that you needed in camp but didn't have on hand, and any advice you would share with others.

If you're courageous enough to take this challenge, it will teach you more about your readiness than anything else you could do. So I urge you to lay aside the TV remote for a few days and go find out just how well prepared you are to walk away from civilization for a few miles (that will show you something about your physical conditioning) and live out of your pack.

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