Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Wilderness Survival and... C-19

These are concerning times, no doubt, however in the midst of the confusion (and without getting into too much detail), you may be thinking a wilderness outing, whether into the front country or backcountry might be a [temporary] answer. As I frequently say, “wilderness survival is just an extension of wilderness safety, and wilderness safety is all about RISK MANAGEMENT.” And on that point…

First, listen ONLY to the scientists!! NOT the politicians!!! This includes Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost authority (and perhaps Dr. Sanjay Gupta). Both have a large presence on TV and YT (yes, doctors are “scientists”, too). Do this just before you go and just before you get back!

Second, BEFORE you go out to the wilderness, be sure you have ALREADY practiced “social distancing” to be SURE you have none of the serious indicators (fever, coughing, but most especially difficulty breathing, C-19 is a RESPIRATORY disease (social distancing is staying at least one to two meters away from other people), REGARDLESS if they are showing symptoms or not!

Third, CONTINUE to practice social distancing AND good hygiene even after you get to the wilderness! Just because you are “in the open”, that does NOT mean you can’t still contract C-19!! Even so, I would suggest (and recommend) using/bringing a satellite communicator like Garmin's InReach Mini (a smartphone if you can get a signal) to get status updates while you're out AND to call for emergency help (ONLY if you need emergency help!)

Fourth, on the subject of masks, the ONLY people who should be wearing masks (specifically, the ”N-95 [respirator]”) are healthcare workers (AT WORK) or those WITH C-19 symptoms!!! Otherwise, you are part of the problem!! There is a SEVERE shortage of these masks, and other protective wear, for healthcare workers and we NEED them to stay healthy. Besides, if you are wearing these, or “surgical” masks, you are just ‘begging’ for infection (when you exhale, you are creating an ideal, moist environment for C-19!) If you feel you must take steps, I would place a tissue over my mouth/nose, then hold it in place with a Buff/bandana/etc. When you feel it getting moist, replace it.

And fifth, as in ALL “survival” situations, common sense (and if in a team/group survival situation, like now, common courtesy) is the call of the day!!! DO be concerned, but do NOT panic! Again, and as always, inform yourself from DEPENDABLE sources (again, the scientists, NOT the politicians).

Be smart, be safe, see you in three weeks.

17 Replies

BACK! Very tired, very good to be back (in my bed!). I'll do a more extensive update later/tomorrow, but it was interesting to have all the trails to myself for the last week. Now... back to the craziness....


Yes, I’m back as of yesterday! Since then, I’ve been busy catching up with friends: One friend is just days away from showing her true hair color… another is getting friendly with his volleyball… still others are just waiting to be assigned to their “Hunger Games” district. One friend said she found a man sitting on her couch, apparently he’s her husband, she said he seems nice. Another friend said she doesn’t think her dog is used to her being home so much, she just stares at her from different places around the house… tilting her head.

As I was trekking my way from the backcountry, it was almost eerie to have the trails all to myself, although I did notice squirrels, birds and other critters seemed louder, almost laughing, teasing, taunting. Now, as I change from my nighttime pajamas into my daytime pajamas, I have to wonder if anyone has told the Amish what’s going on? (Content removed by community moderator) Do the people who hoarded toilet paper realize it’s a RESPIRATORY disease? Although, I got a gag-gift of toilet paper this past Christmas with a joke on each sheet… who’s laughing NOW?!?!

Catching up on the news has been interesting. (Content removed by community moderator)

Stay safe, stay sterile... you know what I mean.


From the community moderators and our User Guidelines: remember that content posted in the community is user-generated and advice you find here may even be wrong. Only responses that come from a designated REI employee, moderator or admin should be considered as information coming from the co-op. For anything related to COVID, we recommend consulting the CDC.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

LOL! Due respect, "moderators" can be wrong, too!!

I, on the other hand, am RARELY (if ever) wrong when I write, that's because I routinely check my sources and I listen only to scientists on scientific matters (including survival psychology, water treatment, applicable medical/pharmaceutical advice, lost person behavior, etc., and COVID-19 or "C-19").

First, as above and to reiterate, listen to the scientists NOT the politician/s... uh-huh... you KNOW who I'm talking about!

Second, yes, you can get the latest general public health information from the CDC at, and if you READ, you can also get the latest SPECIFIC research information from the NIH at "But you mentioned 'Dr. Anthony Fauci!'" The CDC, or "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" is the country's #1 governmental authority [on C-19], it is responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci's (NIAID Director) credentials and qualifications are long and distinguished, but suffice to say he is the country's #1 DOCTOR AND SCIENTIST on infectious diseases [and C-19!] (He is the one who is c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y correcting whatever Trump says on television). Learn more about him at The CDC does general/overall policy and controls, Fauci is involved in the actual research (BTW, he recommends not blaming the CDC for late C-19 testing!)

Third, regarding surgical masks specifically the N-95 (the round one with the aluminum nose bridge), or "PPE" (Personal Protective Equipment), they are more appropriate and NEEDED by front-line health care workers!! For "you", putting a mask on is more about preventing transmission to others than about protecting yourself! Now, read the underscored AGAIN!! That said, other than staying at home, social distancing is still the best, most reasonable, method to protect yourself, protect others, and break the infection chain [particularly when talking, when coughing/sneezing, use the crook of your elbow!]. Of course, that's not always possible, so for those situations, read the underscored AGAIN!!! And yes, this is in accord with Fauci.

Fourth, "But wait, you talked about wearing a 'Buff/bandana/etc.!' Yes I did, there WAS a shortage of proper masks when I wrote that post (FACT) - and lo-and-behold - Fauci more recently SAID to use a cloth mask. Oh, let's say, for instance a Buff/bandana/etc. To be fair, Fauci says this is in ADDITION to social distancing/isolation.

Finally, yes, if you can stay at home, stay at home. But the primary purpose for that is to REMOVE yourself [from public/contact] in order to 'break' the infection chain... which - in my opinion - can be done as effectively by removing yourself to the backcountry, which is what I chose to do (again, provided you continue to use recommended hygiene and distancing practices).

While I was out, I met up with a few friends in the backcountry, and yes, we practiced distancing and hygiene. HOWEVER, as I learned on my Garmin InReach while I was out, many trailheads were closed effectively cutting access to wilderness areas. In fact, as of April 4th (in the San Gabriel Mountain Area), 4 formal and 23 informal access points were closed resulting in 23 trails and 19 roads being closed (82 trail miles and 55 road miles). A check of the notice board at the last campground I stopped at before I returned, I saw a Notice posted which essentially said you cannot "enter or use" organized campgrounds. Obviously, all of this went into effect while I was out (just as I expected!)

This may be splitting hairs, but while this does NOT restrict the ability to walk on National Forest System land, it does restrict access to about 40,000 out of 700,000 acres of the Angeles Forest area/s. But if you ever experience a national pandemic... again... and decide to head out before they close access again, other than having good, dependable gear, you need to provide for our consumables; water, power, fuel, food.

Water, if you're near a water source, check! Power, I have a small number of batteries for my electronics and my headlight is USB rechargeable (Black Diamond ReVolt), I have a 30,000 mAh battery bank (Anker), and a 10,000 mAh batter bank (Defrost Labs) which I use with my solar panel (Goal Zero), which allowed me to extend my power reserves on sunny days, check! Fuel, while I can make the two small fuel canisters last up to almost two weeks each, I used a campfire on dry days/nights, so I had ample fuel.

Food was another matter, I have an "UR-Sack" which I can pack with up to 3 weeks of rations (I let a friend feel how heavy it was and he said, "Oh my gawd! It's like another pack!"). I always pack a few meals that are better cooked on a fire and some that don't require cooking, but unless you have the proper permits/licenses, THIS is what will limit your stay in the wilderness. All-in-all, it was a GREAT adventure! I did see a few people out. Some trail runners, a few day hikers, even a few forestry trail maintenance volunteers, but just a few campers, none of which stayed more than a night.

When it came time to leave, because it was raining heavily, I had to negotiate the backcountry canyon river as much as [what was left of] the canyon trail! In some sections there was NO trail, so I had to trek down the river while looking over m shoulder for possible floating debris! Once out of the canyon, I still had to cross, recross, and recross AGAIN another canyon river leading to/through the frontcountry. But as I got closer to my exit point, the rains made the river grow bigger and faster! On my last day, I decided to forego the last two miles, and three river crossings, in favor of 10-mile route and NO river crossings! (NOTE: A Notice posted at the exit point said the ban on entering was to last until April 30th, we'll see).

The down side was while it was nice to have the wilderness essentially to myself much of the time, the RISK was if anything went horribly wrong during ANY of those river crossings, my body would likely not have be found until after the areas were reopened! Maybe longer!! On a number of crossings, I spent considerable time deciding exactly where, or how, or WHETHER to attempt those crossings!!! Fortunately, I had satellite communicators, a survival kit, and YEARS of experience which included crossings of these kinds. Planning, preparing, experience... nothing better!


did you take any pictures?

REI Member Since 1979

(good timing) I have a few pictures of my camp (more to show a friend who had questions), but I haven't really familiarized myself with the word processing or picture inserting features of this forum.

In case you're familiar, I was at Bear Canyon Camp. I got there via Millard Canyon, skirting the crest of Brown Mountain down the Ken Burton Trail to Oakwilde, then up past Switzer and up Bear Canyon. Going back, I went back down Bear Canyon (I was told by a friend I met there that the trail to Tom Sloan Saddle had significant treefall), past Switzer, past Oakwilde, down Dark Canyon to Gould Mesa.

If you can follow that on a topo, you can see the terrain and all the water crossings! Of course nothing compares with the experience!! But, I'll try to get the photos out of my phone and post here later. As Andrew Skurka once said, "There's the kind of fun that's fun to do and fun to talk about, then there's the kind of fun that's NOT fun to do but fun to talk about, then there's the kind of fun that's NOT fun to do and NOT fun to talk about!" (My fun was a mix of the later two).


found California. Angeles NF. One would think that so close to LA, et al, that that area would be packed! No?

REI Member Since 1979

At first, Iwould think a wilderness trek an ideal activity during a pandemic shutdown, isolated and alone in an interesting area.  i rarelyencountered anyone at all in numerous trips in new Mexico and Arizona (my fave being the Gila Wilderness, none better!)..

However, whenyou think about the implications of a pandemic, if wilderness areas were left open, there would surely be visitors who would enter the wild, and then develop symptoms, be unable to self evacuate, and generate some sort of SAR operation - there goes social distancing.

As a certified geezer, I am just staying home and doing chores.  Our backyard bears distinct similarities to a wilderness, as it is.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@hikermor  LOL! "certified geezer." I totally agree! Personally, I'm 61 this year, but I'm a STRONG 61! Meaning, I've always been athletically inclined beginning with a hike down the California coastline right out of high school. Of course I had already been backpacking, BIKEpacking, sailing in addition to distance running and martial arts. Currently, as I've mentioned before, I've been a wilderness enthusiast (land and sea) and wilderness survivalist close to 35 years now. So you can imagine I've always given the young guys a run for their money!! If that were NOT the case, i certainly would NOT hit the trail for 3 weeks!!!

Actually, I was in a car accident a few weeks before the outing (I was NOT driving) and suffered three broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung, etc. I was healed up enough to carry a 70-liter pack with about 50-60 pounds of gear and supplies over fairly challenging terrain. So yeah... a STRONG 61!

"Isolation"? Not a problem, I've been on solo, month-long, survival challenges before so Isolation for three weeks (fully geared-up and supplied) is a piece of cheese cake! The most trying part of this latest outing was dealing with the cold and wet conditions. Fortunately, it was not windy which would have made a [bad] difference.

The thing with C-19 is while it does hit people harder the older they are, and people with immune-deficient systems, C-19 does NOT want to kill us! It cannot continue to proliferate if it kills everyone who contracts it!! It wants to infect the person, incubate, then spread to another person. Younger people are ideal for this viral strategy. Unfortunately, not everyone is an ideal carrier, that's when it causes real problems.

So although I'm 61, an age group that is urged to be cautious (to say nothing of people older than I), I'm in 'perfect' health! That does NOT mean I don't practice good hygiene and distancing practices, before, during and since my wilderness outing. As to younger people, while they may only experience some minor discomfort, EVERYONE who contracts and carries C-19 is potentially passing it on to someone who will EVENTUALLY have a truly bad C-19 experience. Who would want to be responsible for THAT?!?!

Stay at home, if you can't stay at home, wash your hands frequently, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, practice social distancing, wipe surfaces, do EVERYTHING you can to break the infection chain. If you can get out to the backcountry, continue those best practices, but LISTEN ONLY TO THE SCIENTISTS! GET/BE INFORMED.