Every year, millions of people go into wilderness areas of North America to hike, backpack, bike, boat or canoe, hunt, fish or simply enjoy the wonders of our natural world. Typically, they have a good time and do not face any type of emergency. They return home with stories of fun and pleasure -- and perhaps the odd mosquito bite, blister or touch of sunburn.
But now and then something serious happens to people in the wilderness. They did not anticipate severe weather that suddenly developed. Trails turned into muddy streams. They became lost. A twisted ankle interfered with their ability to move. Their vehicle ran out of gas, got stuck or broke down far from a road. Their canoe capsized. Perhaps some, or even most, of their gear and supplies were lost. Suddenly -- or gradually -- their situation became unpleasant or even frightening.
In dealing with such a wilderness crisis, people involved are, at least at first, on their own. They are dependent on whatever resources of attitude, knowledge, skills, equipment, and supplies they or their group bring with them. They do not have a store readily at hand to buy more equipment or supplies. The family doctor (or a hospital) is not a few minutes away to patch them up. No ambulance will pull up in minutes or lifeguards will come to the rescue in seconds. Rescue may come, but usually not for hours or days.
If they handle the emergency properly, and most do well enough, they will have a story of adventure to tell their friends and family. Either on their own, or with the help of others, they make it home in good shape. But if they handle the situation improperly, the result can be serious injury, illness, or suffering -- even death.
Increasing your wilderness survival knowledge and skills makes it less likely that you will find yourself in a risky situation, with your very survival on the line. And if you find yourself in such a situation, wilderness survival knowledge and skills will help to keep you alive – and usually comfortable -- until the crisis is over.
Wilderness survival knowledge and skills can also help you deal with emergencies at home or traveling. Natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, severe winter storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and serious power outages create conditions, like the wilderness, where you are thrown, more or less, on your own resources for a time.
Like most things, getting prepared for wilderness survival takes learning and practice. The better time to learn how to start a fire under less than ideal conditions is on a regular camping trip when it rains, not in a real emergency when someone (maybe you) has taken a dip in very cold water and is starting to shake. Your experience here at Mac’s will help get you started. It’s up to you how far you travel down the path to knowledge and experience.
Blog updated Monday December 26, 2011
New Video Posted July 26, 2010
Our 4th video, "Basic Wilderness Navigation,"
is now posted on the video page. This is a
2-Part video. You can also view them on
YouTube - search: "scottmphoto"