by Tony Nester of Ancient Pathways Survival School
Watch for my interview with Tony in an upcoming episode of Survival Mom Radio Hour!
|Each year, there are numerous stories about lost hikers or hunters in the desert who succumb to the elements. Many of these tragedies are preventable and involve a little preparation on the front end coupled with a dose of common sense while on the trail.During the past twenty years of teaching survival courses, I’ve heard many stories about and from actual survivors. Many of these tales of hardship are prefaced with the following:”I was only going for a short walk in the woods and got turned around.””I got on the wrong trail back to the campsite.”
“I was just trying to take a shortcut back to my car.”
If you retrace the elements that lead to a person surviving a night out, you will find that the predicament begins with their mindset back home prior to the outing.
This Dayhiker Syndrome is where the making of a survival situation is put into motion and it is a deadly mindset to possess. Who will notify the SAR unit if you don’t return? Where will they look? How will you cope with a cold night in the elements with only the clothes on your back? How will you handle a serious injury?
With the Dayhiker Syndrome, most lost hikers are woefully unprepared to deal with making a shelter and fire, purifying water, handling medical issues, and signaling rescuers.
While sitting on the couch next time, sipping a cup of coffee, and contemplating your morning stroll, remember to:
Should you find yourself in a survival situation, you may be looking at enduring the ordeal for 24-72 hours until SAR personnel can get to your location. This assumes you left that almighty travel plan and that the weather is cooperative. I recall one story of a stranded hiker who was talking with searchers on his cellphone only to have them say that they couldn’t get to him for the next four days due to high winds and an impending snowstorm!There are 7 priorities you must take care:1. PMA – Positive Mental Attitude
7. SleepFrom the above list, you can see that your priorities are few but this is where a quality survival kit comes into play. Yes, it is possible to make fire by rubbing two sticks together and fashion a lean-to but do you really want to play Jeremiah Johnson when the sun is setting, hypothermia is at your back, and you are coping with injury?! Carry a good survival kit and you will be ahead of the game should Murphy’s Law befall you on the trail.
Why isn’t food on the list? Because we are talking about a narrow window of 1-3 days and your body is hardwired for fasting from our hunter-gatherer heritage. One survivor in the Himalayas went an astonishing 43 days without food and survived because he had shelter, water (melted snow), and the WILL to live in abundance.
In survival courses I teach for military special operations units, we delve into gathering wild plants, trapping, and food procurement but these are long-term wilderness skills and not something a stranded dayhiker should expend precious calories and sweat on. Stay put, hydrated, and keep warm.
PMA is listed at the top for a reason and I will discuss survival psychology in-depth in a future article. One thing that will help and to consider carrying in your survival kit is a photo of your family or loved ones. Pulling that out, when the cold night is upon you in the wilds, will help bolster your willpower and nourish the survivor mindset.
A Survival Kit You Can Live With
You will want to carry enough gear to take care of the “Big 5” survival priorities of: Shelter, Water, Fire, Medical, and Signaling. For a guideline, here’s what I carry:
|Remember to check the weather in the morning during the rainy season, leave a travel plan, and carry your survival gear at all times|
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