> ... For me back country backpacking is a recreation and a vacation. To this I often say "Have fun in the wilderness, but don't PLAY in the wilderness." One of the reasons why people get into trouble is precisely because they have a "vacation mentality" in wilderness areas. Take sailing, even if you're on a simple day-sail, there's just enough to do to keep your mind occupied and STILL just relax and "have fun." But land or sea, there are unwritten RULES of conduct to abide by (like it or not) that keep you out of trouble. > I'm not deliberately "roughing it" and I see no reason to be any more uncomfortable than is necessary to enjoy being in the back country. Literally EVERYTHING in your pack is all about creature comforts. It's all there to make your stay in the wild more comfortable, efficient and even safer. What you have, or don't have (or improvise), will reflect/dictate what level of comfort you are willing to accept. It's a given that some prefer "glamping" to "roughing it", that's all fine as long as it doesn't compromise safety or compound risk. > Backpacking is not a "survival" situation unless you push the limits or are extremely unlucky...but that can happen in any context. As I've said before, "Wilderness survival is ACTUALLY just an extension of wilderness safety, and wilderness safety is all about risk management", and "The first rule of wilderness survival is to AVOID wilderness survival." Also, while a survival ordeal may start without your knowledge, it begins when you first become aware of a survival situation formation and doesn't end until you regain control (typically by rescue). It has very little to do with "luck" (the better you are, the "luckier" you get!). Everything that happens is foreseeable. > I don't know the statistics but the accepted wisdom is that injuries beyond things like minor cuts, scraps, blisters, bug bites, sunburn, windburn and chafe are very rare. None of these are immediately life threatening for most people. The object is to relieve the issue so you can get on with enjoying yourself. If you're more into "glamping" than camping, sure, why not bring hairspray and curlers... for those catastrophic 'bad hair days' on the trail. But if we're talking about not bringing unnecessary clutter/weight (particularly in your first-aid kit), then that may depend on how tough you are. Otherwise, we're talking about what is "necessary" (again, the operative word). > My point about acetaminophen is that occasional backpackers will generally experience aches and pains due to the sudden transition to continuous exercise and will take pain meds to get some relief. It is a very bad idea to use acetaminophen in that way. (This is really just a continuation of the previous paragraph) Whether your idea of "laps" is running to-and-from the refrigerator during commercials and you're just not used to exerting yourself, or you're doing a particularly strenuous activity and you have minor aches the next day depite extensive physical training, the "... tough get going..." without popping pills or applying Band-Aids upon every/any little discomfort. > Since it wasn't obvious...I use leuko tape to secure the moleskin which pads around the blister. I don't put leuko tape directly on a formed or popped blister and I don't recommend it. I understand what you're saying, however, I reiterate: PROPERLY fitted footwear don't cause blisters. I have had blisters in the past, so what I have done in those cases is when a blister forms, I puncture it at the bottom edge with a safety pin, then drain, clean and dry it (if it's in camp, I drain and dry the blister overnight) and maybe apply some Neosporin, then I apply the Leukotape. Once that's done, I don't plan on removing it until after I get home. If the blister is sufficiently drained, the lifted skin will loosely adhere itself back onto the tender tissue beneath while the Leukotape, because it adheres so securely, deals with any rubbing that caused the blister in the first place. This means means any Mole Skin is purely superfluous and therefore unnecessary. But... to each his own.
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Good points... however... if you find it necessary to take ANY med's for "11 days", chances are you don't need med's, you need a DOCTOR! As to the quantity, I carry a 3-day supply in my survival kit (which should be assembled with a 3-day ordeal in mind, anyway) and a travel-size container of each. Also, if free-bleeding were really a major concern with ibuprofen, dentists would be more hesitant to using it (similarly to aspirin). "Scrapes"? I'm a big girl now, I don't even waste my time on anything that needs a Band-Aid! Band-Aids (a trademark/brand name, making capitalization proper) are great for speed and convenience, and of course, weigh nothing don't take any room. My point being they are unnecessary. But if you NEED to stop bleeding, you don't want a Band-Aid anyway, you probably need a product like Quick Clot, which is ALSO fast, convenient and don't weigh much, but is more appropriate for more serious wounds (and BTW, can't be improvised (yes, I carry this product too)). Meh... Mole Skin - Leukotape... it's up to you, but Mole Skin WILL come loose, Duct tape WILL come loose, Leukotape will absolutely, positively will not!!! And if you wrap some around your trekking pole (along with a little duct tape, toe tape, etc.) it doesn't weigh anything and takes NO room. In any case, the best way to address blisters is to NOT get them, you do this by having PROPERLY fitted footwear. Moreover, you should NOT stock your TRAIL first-aid kit to treat little "ouchies" (the kind mommy fixed with a little kiss), you want a kit that will help if you NEED it (the operative word here being, "Need"). As I always say, "if it's hot out, you're going to be hot. If it's cold out, you're going to be cold. If it's wet out, you're going to be wet. The trick is in not minding so much." So too goes minor injuries (the operative word here being, "Minor"). So forget Band-Aids, just rub some dirt on it (yes, kidding) and move on. Forget the sunburn ointment, you could probably use some color anyway (UNLESS you'll be at sea or in a desert/arid environment). And forget the prepacked, off-the-shelf kits, experience (or those with experience) and a little logic will tell you what you need and don't need!
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This [another] post I was planning on doing (yep, still gonna do it!), but some quick comments: There are basically two components to this topic, the food and the cook system. Those bulky, expensive, freeze-dried, prepacked meals are one option (routinely used by beginners), those "Meals Ready to Eat" (MREs) are another option, but these are also bulky, and can be expensive and heavy. The companies that make them are pretty-much the same, but only a few make REAL M.R.E. meals for the military, the others are privately owned companies and some are even in China. I wouldn't recommend that either, but I would recommend one or two of those "brick-'o'-food" packets for day hikers (I like May Day). Frankly, I suggest you just go to your local supermarket and really LOOK at anything that is dehydrated or "instant." While you can put together some elaborate plastic bag meals, you need to plan your meals from a "ration" frame of mind. Remember, it may be dehydrated, but the weight ADDS UP! For a simple example, one of my favorite camp meals is spaghetti in Alfredo sauce with Parmesan cheese and some smoked clams. Simple, cheap, easy, and totally packable! My minimalist cook system uses a small canister of MSR gas, a micro stove (lots of these on the market), a 750ml titanium pot and lid, a spork, and even part of my "hobo stove" as a windscreen. If I run out of gas, I combine the lid and the windscreen to make my hobo stove, then I can cook forever with nothing but handfulls of woodchips and sticks. But this brings up a related topic... FUEL! I can get up to almost two weeks on one of those small MSR gas canisters. "HOW?!" you ask? First, I use a gadget that transfers fuel, to OVER-fill the can to capacity. Second, I try to use only instant food (instant rice, beans, soups, etc.). Third, If I know I want to cook breakfast the next morning, I take a bottle of water to bed (raising the water temperature), lowering the amount of fuel I need to get a boil. Fourth, I don't turn the stove to high, I only use enough flame to heat the bottom of my pot. Fifth, I use that part of my hobo stove to keep the wind/breeze from blowing the flame out or pushing the flame off the bottom of the pot. And sixth, I turn off the flame BEFORE the food is fully cooked and let the food rehydrate or finish cooking on its own, but I also wrap the pot in a scarf or whatever clothing I have handy, so the heat stays with the pot/food. More to come....
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I was going to do a post on this topic (and I still will!) but some quick observations: First, to minimize the bulk (and weight) in your kit, you obviously want to cut-out redundancy, for example, if you have Leukotape, you DON'T need Mole Skin (Leukotape is far superior anyway). So READ and/or do your research on the med's you think you need/want. Second, only bring items that CAN'T be improvised, for example, I never bring Band-Aids or gauze pads. Instead, if I need a Band-Aid, I cut a short length from a roll of sterilized gauze, fold it, and apply with some Leukotape. Other items to include are items made of metal or plastic such as tweezers, safety pins, etc. Third, LOOK at each individual item and figure a way to improvise it, for example, it's possible you may need to "irrigate" a wound (with some force to get the dirt out). So, cut the plastic tip from your irrigation syringe then poke it through the bottom corner of a plastic zip-lock bag. You won't save much weight, but you now don't have to stress over how to pack that syringe. As far as med's are concerned, this should be based on the probable injuries you are likely to incur based on your expected activities (here again, READ the labels and DO your research!) However, I normally have both acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) in my survival kit and first aid kit. This may seem redundant, and although they both address pain, they do it in different ways. For example, consider why your dentist may use BOTH in toothache cases; They use Tylenol to address the immediate the pain you feel, they use Advil to address the swelling in the tooth (which causes the pain you feel), from the bacteria driving the infection, and they use a prescription antibiotic to address the bacteria/infection (which causes the pain and swelling). More later....
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[be sure to read the "addendum" I posted on whether to fight back]
> [California] Channel Islands
Yep, including Catalina. Typically you just have to be aware of rattlesnakes (on Catalina, bison)
> stats on other situations?
No, I don't have stats with me other than what I've already mentioned (i.e. hiking produces far more SAR missions (more than climbing, kayaking, fishing, etc.))
> falls, floods, etc...
As Ive said before, "In the wilderness, YOU are your biggest problem!" I would say IGNORANCE is a chronic problem: Ignorance of what to expect, ignorance of how to plan and prepare, ignorance of the need for proficiency (including being physically fit), etc.
> Bees and bears...
Yes, even with the incursion of Africanized honey bees, anaphylactic shock (allergy) more of a concern than actually being killed by the bee venom itself. As to bear attacks, the typical attack results in mauling injuries to the back of the head and raking injuries to the back from the bear's claws. If the bear manages to get a hold of an arm or leg, those injuries are typically puncture wounds from bites.
As to being killed/injured by FIREarms, remember that bear attacks are exceeding rare and deaths by bear are rare in the extreme! So, yes, I'm sure deaths/injuries from a firearm (i.e. hunting accidents) would be far more common.
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As an addendum, I thought I's add this: ONCE AND FOR ALL... DO I... OR DON’T I... FIGHT?! I find too many people get this part wrong, mainly because it’s a nuanced answer that requires explanation, and it REQUIRES people to educate themselves and remain calm (two traits I don’t attribute to most people) enough to correctly evaluate the situation. DON'T depend on any advice in a RHYME! First, learn how to tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear (you’re more likely to encounter a black bear), black bears are typically far more timid and are more likely to be fended-off, grizzly attacks are far more critical. Next, bears in the frontcountry behave differently toward people than in the backcountry, meaning if a bear is used to seeing people (i.e. in the frontcountry), they are less likely to run away, but they are not necessarily more likely to attack. Backcountry bears are more likely to attack because they are more likely to consider you as possible prey. However, the REAL question is NOT whether it’s a grizzly or a black bear, it’s whether they are in defense mode or predatory mode! Examples of defense mode behavior are the bear may snort, vocalize (bears don’t “growl”), swat the ground, extend its lips or even stand on its hind legs (this is a sign its just trying to decide what you are or if you’re a threat). Black bears are more likely to make noises, bluff-charge, etc. because they are trying to warn you off. More serious/dangerous situations/behavior are a mother bear protecting its young, protecting food, a mating partner or simply being surprised by you. Presuming other steps/measures are unsuccessful, when a bear is in predatory mode, their demeanor reflects predatory behavior; they don’t make noise, instead they make an effort to be stealthy and they assume stalking behavior such as approaching you from behind with head held low and ears back. Overt predatory behavior includes entering a shelter/tent. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings, particularly in the backcountry. Periodically look around, if your instinct tells you you’re being watched/followed, you're probably right, look around and make noise! If the bear is in predatory mode (more likely a grizzly), it means the bear does not see you as “human”, it likely sees you as possible prey (or at least is investigating you as possible prey). Fortunately, even a grizzly in predatory mode can be scared off by making noise, making yourself look big, throwing whatever’s at hand at it, etc., anything to snap it out of its predatory mindset. Now, here’s the critical part… If the bear is in defense mode, it’s attacking because it saw you as a threat for some reason, NOT because it’s "angry" or hungry! So the thing to do is to present as little threat as possible. This means taking a defensive position. Do NOT go strait to the “fetal position”, that's your fall-back strategy! Instead, get into “The Turtle” position: knees and elbows on the ground, arms and legs in tight, lowest possible center of gravity, and no matter what happens, keep your hands and fingers protecting the back of your neck!!! (if you are wearing a backpack, even better). The bear will likely try to flip you, but limit your defense to staying in position, DO – NOT – FIGHT – BACK!!! Fighting back against a bear in defense mode will just prolong the attack! If it manages to flip you over, then you can try the fetal position, but your injuries are likely to be much more severe. When the bear is satisfied the threat is over, it will move on. If the bear is in predatory mode, FIGHT – BACK! In this case, the bear has decided you are prey, period! Again, black bears are more likely to be fended off, if you can grab a rock, focus your attack on its nose, eyes, face.Grizzlies are larger and require more food, so it’s unlikely it will stop once an attack has begun. (But make no mistake, the smaller black bear is every bit as capable of decapitating a person with a single swipe of its paw!). In these cases, a gun may be your only defense. Also, I would urge caution when coming to another’s defense without a gun, unlike cougars (who have been known to maintain it's bite on a victim's head despite being stabbed in the eye with a pen by a rescuer), bears are known to leave a victim to go after a would-be rescuer, then return to the victim after killing the rescuer.
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@Philreedshikes Saw your video, you handled it correctly. Congrat's. Don't engage more than necessary, well done. Obviously an adult Griz', I could see it tense-up when it became aware of you and (rather casually) cast for a scent. It obviously had seen people before, it was not shaken enough to stop looking for food. "Circling" was its way to avoid you while continuing on its way.
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Obviously, there are several ways you can shelter, but far and away my favorite is hammock camping! If you use a hammock, or have already looked into it, you already know the advantages/disadvantages over other sheltering options so I won’t belabor the point here. But in the backcountry, the conditions (terrain and weather) are as varied as the people. So because you don’t always know what your campsite will look like, you need to be ready to adjust and even improvise the shelter [options] you brought. I always bring an ultralight waterproof bivy in case I want to camp cowgirl-style (you can still use a bivy in your hammock or tent to add a little warmth or waterproofness). But my hammock system is SO light I sometimes bring a tent as well. But here’s all you REALLY need to go hammock camping: An ultralight hammock (of course), a good r-rated sleeping bag/quilt (I use a Big Agnes, Roxy Anne, 15-degree, goose down, hybrid bag/quilt), and a good r-rated sleeping pad (I use a Thermarest, Extherm, rated 6.9). You still need a tarp, but I just use a few yards of nylon rip-stop from a fabric store, WAY cheaper! That’s pretty-much it!! You DON’T an under-quilt, an over-quilt, a “pod”-style bug net, a specially made/designed tarp system, or even an over thought, over built suspension system! I’ve had my system in TWENTY-degree temperatures, winds up to 50/60 mph gusts, and downpours and I have always been warm and toasty. In fact, I almost look forward to those conditions! (especially wind!!). Of course, there are some basic pro-tips to know… First, be SURE you have good clothing layers (base, outer, thermal, rain), particularly your thermal layer. Your clothing IS your insulation (and shelter in an emergency), so whether you choose fleece or down, don’t skimp on this layer when shopping! I always bring TWO goose down jackets (which I can layer). When temperatures approach the 20s, I stuff them into my bag and use one to cover myself from the waist down, and the other the waist up. Then my 15-degree bag becomes a 5-degree bag. Next, I never stake-out a tarp, I use the nylon rip-stop (it’s not particularly thick, you can’t see through it, but it is thin and breathable) to go over my ridge-line and tie the corners under the hammock. DONE! The result is something akin to what I call a “suspended bivy” or cocoon. The value of a tarp, is NOT to “insulate” you from the cold, it’s to keep the wind/breeze off you! I can actually feel the variations of temperature between me, my down jackets, my bag, my tarp and the outside and each difference is significant! My suspension system consists of a single length of Spectra cord. That’s it. It’s about half the width of standard 550-paracord, but it has TWICE the strength, and it was designed for wet conditions! (sailing). I pre-hang the hammock with the suspension loops already set and attached, so all I have to do is tie onto a couple of trees. That’s it. Hammock straps? You DON’T need them! “But what about protecting the tree?” If the bark is wet, yes, anything less than a 1-inch strap may leave an impression in the bark IF the bark absorbs water. Some trees are hard as rock, so you don’t have to worry about it. Oak tree bark may show a slight impression, pine tree bark more so. HOWEVER, it’s been my experience that as long as you don’t hang on the exact same tree in the exact same position, the bark WILL bounce back (especially if you’re only there for a night or two). “But where do I put my stuff?” Once I get into my hammock, I use a little carabiner (which I keep on one of my boots) to hang my boots on the ridgeline, under my tarp, then I just slide my boots out of the way toward my feet. I often add another line under my hammock, with two loops pre-tied, and hook my pack onto it with a couple of carabiners. Now, everything is off the ground, protected and within reach. “But what about the ants?” There are FAR more ants, spiders, bugs and beetles on the ground than on any tree trunk! Besides, there are things you can do; You can make an “ant bridge” to allow ants to avoid your lines, an ant bridge is just a [solid] stick or two placed next to the ant-trail, place your line across the top of the stick/s creating a bridge over the ants; You can also apply petroleum jelly to your lines, about 99% of the ants have NO interest in exploring your lines (particularly if they have an ant bridge), but occasionally a stray or two will start walking your line. That’s where the petroleum jelly comes in. I start by wrapping some toe-tape (like masking take) over a few inches of my line just before the hammock (this helps keep your line free of petroleum jelly), then I smear the petroleum jelly on the tape. Ants H-H-H-ATE petroleum jelly!!! Even the most persistent ants won’t cross more than about an inch of this barrier. A mosquito net? I find once I’m inside my hanging “cocoon”, bugs like mosquitoes are blocked by my tarp. I sometimes use a good no-see-um headnet as an alternative. However the tarp does more than “keep you warm” by keeping the wind off you, it protects you and your gear from bird droppings, falling bugs (like ants), falling branches (within reason) and even butter-fingered squirrels dropping acorns on your head. Of course, there’s nothing that says you can’t sew a little window into the sides so you can see what’s going on around you. Rain? (a dangerous condition if combined with wind and cold!) Here you have to understand that no matter the sheltering option, when you use waterproof materials, condensation becomes an issue Because my hammock and tarp are breathable, I don’t normally have that issue. However, rain presents a tricky problem, if I anticipate rain, under my tarp and over my ridgeline and hammock, I place a specially folded plastic tarp (cut from a 2mm plastic from a paint store). The head and foot are attached by loops secured with duct tape (only the foot of the plastic tarp is secured at this point). When the rain begins, because of the way it’s folded, it allows me to draw the plastic tarp over me like an awning, then I secure the head of the tarp over me. To address condensation, I use a “spreader” to allow airflow. There are additional finer points, to be sure, but these are what I consider the more essential recommendations and observations. Done correctly, and well, a hammock is a GREAT [ultralight] addition to any pack which gives you a fantastic sheltering option.
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Over the years, I’ve noticed more and more women in the backcountry, with a noticeable up-tick after Reece Whitherspoon in “Wild”, which is good, it’s about time. But even before that trend, I could always count on two questions; “You’re by YOURSELF?” and “Aren’t you AFRAID?” Typically, the concern comes from both men and women are wild animals, namely, bears. So first, let’s look at some stats for North America with a few familiar factors for perspective (NOTE: I recorded these stats a few years ago, but they should still suffice:
611,000 deaths per year by heart disease,
15,696 deaths per year by murder (2016),
100 deaths per year by scorpion,
30 deaths per year by pet dogs,
2 deaths per year by BEAR (40 since 2000),
1 death per year by Alligator (mostly on golf courses),
1 death per year by Orcas & Dolphins (i.e. flipping kayakers, etc.)
1 death every TWO years by SHARK,
1 death every THREE years by COUGAR (9 since 1990), and
1 death every EIGHT years by WOLF (2 since 2000, or in the last century).
Considering how often people enjoy the wilderness, you can see how wild animal attacks are exceedingly RARE! Wolves and Cougars (one of 40 different names for the SAME animal!) are incredibly shy. Cougars are even shy amongst themselves (except during mating season). As for bears, you are 300-times more likely to be attacked by an owner’s dog, and 3,000-times more likely to be attacked by a dog’s owner.
Black bears, are fully-equipped, natural-born, survivors: They can run as fast as a racehorse, swim like a fish, climb trees like a monkey, and have a nose like a bloodhound. Grizzly bears, not so much, which is reflected in their North American numbers (Grizzly bears, 55,000. Black bears, 600,000). Moreover, black bears are SMART! That does not mean they can reason (only people can do that), but being smart means they can learn.
One of the main features in their behavioral profile is they are hard-wired to AVOID potential conflict. That’s why they run or climb, to avoid injury/death. The only reason they attack is if they perceive a threat (NOT because they’re “angry”), which can happen if you surprise them when eating, mating, or even if you both just happen to turn the same corner.
As rare as they are, incidents do happen, but typically because the bear has come to associate human presence with food opportunities/rewards (often because the unknowing and/or inexperienced has left food, food scraps or food garbage out). When they become habituated, a bear-human incident is inevitable. Yet, it’s always “…the BEAR’S fault!”
IT’S ALL BEAR COUNTRY!
As I mentioned before, I’ve been a wilderness enthusiast (land and sea) for nearly 35 years and I’ve seen a LOT of bears at a distance (The way I like it) because I usually make a lot of noise. One summer, I was on my way into the San Gabriels when I stopped at one of my favorite trail camps for a few nights, Mt. Lowe Trail Camp (site of the old Mt. Lowe Tavern). It is regularly used and frequently visited, since there’s a restroom in the campground and there’s a great view from Inspiration Point a few hundred yards away.
I use a camping hammock of my own design (more on this in another post), and I tend to hang it a little high (no reason, I just like it that way). That night, I was awoken by what felt like a head bumping me from below. I thought, “Did I just dream that? I couldn’t have, my hammock is still swinging!” Just then, I heard a little noise near my gear about 2 or 3 yards away. I peaked out, shined a light, and there was a juvenile bear investigating the bacon grease I was saving to fry some potatoes (NOTE: I must accept some responsibility here by not making the grease inaccessible). I had put it in a double-plastic bag, but that’s no defense against a bear’s nose!
By the time I put my boots on and scrambled out of my hammock, the bear appeared to be gone. I thought, “No. I’m not convinced!” I normally don’t need or want a campfire, but I always set it up so I can light it with a single match. So I walked to the fire pit, lit the fire and began scanning the area with my light. About an hour later, I spotted him about 20 yards away, just waiting for me to go back to sleep. I coaxed him away, but an hour later, I spotted him again on the hillside overlooking the campground, STILL waiting for me to go to sleep!
- Lesson Learned -
Was I scared? (I’m always asked). NO! Not in the least!! Despite the bear’s unusual behavior (coming into an active campsite), I know enough about them and saw them often enough to know what to expect if I got to my feet (it would have been a different matter if it was a cub instead of a lone juvenile!) But after years of solitary backcountry experience, never coming within 50 yards of a bear, it’s ironic that my closest bear encounter would come in a camp frequented by hundreds of people every week. So, ALWAYS presume a bear is not far away, and conduct yourself accordingly. In the end, it was the best outcome possible; Nobody got hurt, no bear was blamed, and a bear who was obviously on the way to becoming habituated, learned that human presence does NOT necessarily mean a free/easy meal!
[BLACK] BEAR ATTACK
Some of you may have heard the story of Todd Orr, the Forester who was attacked by a mama bear not once, but TWICE about 20 minutes apart. When he arrived back at his truck, he had the presence of mind to film his injuries (which he later posted to YouTube, you may still be able to find it) before driving himself to the hospital. He is one of the dozens of survivors I have personally interviewed.
His story is fairly well reported, so I won’t re-share the gory details, in fact, the first thing I told him was I was not interested in those physical facts, I KNEW the story. I was more interested in knowing what he was thinking and feeling at every step along the way beginning with his background. His father was a Forester his entire life and taught he and his brother everything they knew about the woods and bears. He so idolized his father that he not only wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, he wanted to be just like his father. So it’s no surprise Todd also became a Forester.
During Todd’s 30 years as a Forester, he had seen, and been bluff-charged by, bears many times. He carried both a sidearm and a can of bear spray, and routinely practiced drawing the spray, pulling the safety tab, and pointing the spray. So on the fateful day, he spotted a mama bear escorting two cubs into the underbrush. Thinking the show was over, he continued on his way when he saw the bear running for him at full speed.
Todd drew his spray and laid a cloud in front of the bear, but the bear was moving so fast she blew right through the cloud and never slowed before she slammed into Todd! He barely had time to hit the ground with his knees and elbows. The bear gnawed at the back of his head, and raked his back, while trying to flip him over. He remained focused and aware of what was happening, as he countered the bear’s efforts to flip him over. When the first attack was over, Todd got up and started back to his truck. He knew advanced first aid, so he knew his injuries were not immediately life threatening.
Some minutes later, the bear appeared and charged him again (Todd did NOT feel the bear was stalking him, he felt the bear just happened to take a path that brought them together again). Again, the bear slammed into him at full speed, but again, Todd remained focused and aware of the bear’s actions. Yes, the thought that this MAY be it did cross his mind, but he remained present in the moment. When that attack was over, he understandably waited a little longer before moving, then again, assessed his injuries.
From the first attack to his arrival at the hospital, Todd remained calm, focused, aware, and ever mindful in his thoughts and actions. During a detailed interview, he described his father, the man he so admired and wanted to be like as a kid, as one who was not only well-liked, open and accommodating, but completely competent, knowledgeable, skilled…. I told Todd, “You know, you just described yourself, you ARE your father!” After a few moments of silence, he said, “You know, I think you’re right.”
- Lessons Learned -
Todd’s example of a parent/s’ early influence eventually saving their lives in a survival ordeal is not unique, the story of Juliane Koepcke comes to mind. The lesson here is these are wild animals, you may know what to expect, but you don’t know what to predict.
Most bear attacks result in maulings about the back of the head and raking wounds along the back from their claws. but deaths typically occur with a bite to the back of the neck, which is why you must cover it with your hands and finger REGARDLESS of the cost. You will not bleed-out from puncture wounds (bites), the wounds will simply close-up. What you need to be concerned with are lacerations, avulsions, compound fractures, etc.
As to the “The Turtle” position, THIS should be your initial defensive posture if an attack begins, Do NOT attempt to punch the bear! Limit your resistance to maintaining your Turtle position. The bear WILL try to flip you (it’s just a natural response, try that position with your dog, watch how it responds!), but that must be the LIMIT of your resistance, anything more will be perceived as a threat, prolonging the attack. ONLY if the bear manages to flip you should you attempt the fetal position (in that case, expect much more extensive injuries).
When the bear is satisfied the threat is over, it will move on. When that happens, don’t move until you’re satisfied the bear is gone. Like Todd, your next task is to assess your injuries. Stabilize as best you can, call/signal for help, and/or start walking.
The options for GRIZZLY bear attack is a dismal few.Grizzlies are much larger, generally the larger the bear, the more unlikely they can climb trees, Still, ALL bears are skittish to some degree, including grizzlies, black bears even more so. But even grizzlies have been scared off by standing tall with arms stretched up and out, with loud noises, and by throwing things, etc. But the best advice is always aimed at avoiding interactions; know the mating and hibernating seasons, handle food, food scraps and food garbage correctly and MAKE NOISE!
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@hikermor(not sure if my response went through the first time, still getting used to this system/board) By, "REI is in a position to effect that change... If they chose to.", I mean the people who are responsible for the VAST majority of [rather expensive] SAR missions are highly concentrated within a single group of hikers (day hikers). Moreover, the vast majority of those SAR missions are begun on Saturdays and Sundays, this makes finding these people fairly easy. Next, with the closure of stores like Adventure 16, more of these people are likely to come to REI for day hiking gear (clothes, shoes, etc.), meaning they are even more likey than ever to literally walk through REI's front door at some point. While acknowledging it is not possible to protect people from themselves, particularly those who do not exhibit much care or concern for their own safety, I'm guessing it may be too much to hope these same people will be proactive enough to seek-out the "Expert Advice" pages of a retailer's web site. Even one as preeminent as REI. All that's left then, is to take the opportunity (both in store and at trailhead) to stuff their sweaty little palms with some helpful, reliable, advice and information to help them stay out of trouble! And what form would that helpful, reliable, advice and information take? Perhaps not unlike the booklet I'm drafting based on my UPDATED "10 Essentials" and my Five Essential Steps, which I plan to have the Altadena Mountain Rescue (Sherriff's Office) and the Forestry Department endorse in time for a possible seminar before summer. So I repeat your question.... Could REI? Should REI?
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@PhilreedshikesLOL, some good observations! I agree, in my experience (and while many may COME to love the great outdoors), those I find most appreciative and respectful of wilderness areas are those who seem to be naturally dawn from a younger age. As time goes on, the more serious and committed they become, the more they spend their own time and resources toward their next outing. I sometimes tell those in the 'survival community', "Wilderness survivalists are wilderness enthusiasts, wilderness enthusiasts are wilderness conservationists, wilderness conservationists are wilderness activists." Trust me, I do NOT consider myself a "tree-hugger" and I'm not particularly fond of granola or GORP, but I find once you spend enough time in the backcountry, you can't help but develop that appreciation and respect. Conversely, it irks me to no end when I see graffiti sprayed on rocks and even TREES! I don't even like seeing random carins that serve no real purpose, it's just another form of graffiti!! Nevertheless, people who find themselves in trouble tend to be people who don't spend much time thinking, THAT'S why they get into trouble. Consequently, any SAR team member (particularly those in helicopters over mountainous terrain) are absolutely risking their lives for people who appear to care little for their own. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt or worse in the wilderness, least of all me. But from my perspective, wilderness survival is just an extension of wilderness safety, and wilderness safety is all about risk management. Being safe in the wilderness is no fluke, it is an intended, calculated result of proper planning, preparation, proficiency, etc. The longer you're out there the more this is true. Otherwise, I vote for the Darwin approach.
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