Beautiful Yet Dangerous; Jungles and Deserts

If you’re an adventurous person who loves the little extra something for what comes to unique experiences, exciting travelling and fabulous, pristine nature destinations…

…You would probably love adventures in huge tropical jungle areas, places like Borneo, Madagascar, Amazon, Costa Rica…or in a majestic, sandy desert area such as the ones in Mexico, New Mexico, Africa or Middle East…

I am a person like this – especially I would enjoy a ride thru or huge desert area with my man (and perhaps with a friend couple). And for what comes to jungles – I could certainly enjoy a camping adventure there – although I’d prefer glamping if only possible. I haven’t yet done it but I was thinking of this not so long ago when writing my travel guide and adding there some amazing nature destinations as recommended places to visit.

So I decided to get to know more of the subject of what you need know before going on a jungle or desert adventure – how you need to prepare yourself and keep yourself safe.  

Your jungle adventure would probably involve hiking into a remote and huge jungle area filled in dense rainforest, rare flora and fauna and high mountains, valleys, rivers and waterfalls… You would probably enjoy an exciting camping adventure in the mountainous jungles of Borneo, Madagascar, Brazil, Peru, Thailand, Papua New Guinea or Costa Rica.

Maybe you would be dropped of there, in middle of nowhere – in middle of jungle, with a helicopter or seaplane (if there’s a convenient coastal area for this), maybe with a jeep (as far as the road goes) or with a boat via some remote river. Maybe you would go with a companion rather than alone, maybe with a small group of equally enthusiastic explorers…  You would enjoy exploring the jungle, mountains and valleys and take a swim in waterfalls or rivers, kayak or canoe along some rivers – get to know the flora and fauna, maybe find some remote, ancient remains of temples… You wouldn’t even care of the insects so much – you’re a nature lover so let them be you’d think. Maybe you would go on a hunt of some unknown orchid or inject species to get it named after you, maybe after some plant that could be a big hit in medicine. Maybe you would explore the myths and truths of cannibalism in the area… Maybe you would go see if YOU can find out what happened to  Michael Rockefeller…

Or if you’re into desert adventures, you would probably love to go to an adventurous SUV trip through a huge, majestic desert area, drive in middle of the fantastic landscapes, explore some abandoned mining ghost towns or mining places, remote mountains and sand dunes… Maybe you would go sand boarding there, hike a little, take a lot of unique photographs…

The distances are huge – there’s nothing but sandy desert, mountains, valleys… Perhaps those abandoned ghost towns and mining places… It would remind of the views in the movie “Hills Have Eyes” (which was actually shot in New Mexico). Just you, the SUV, your companion, your camping equipment – and a couple of days driving thru the fabulous desert in a lonely area where there are no roads really and no other traffic, nothing actually. Just pristine desert, nothing else.

You camping in middle of these stunning landscapes next to your safe and strong SUV, having a campfire dinner, ghost stories, a little tent, enjoying a romantic adventure with your companion under the fantastic starry sky you can only experience in desert, then in the next day, another 200 km drive thru the rest of the desert…

If you are a thrill lover and would enjoy these types of adventures – you need to understand that these two very different areas are stunningly beautiful yes, but also very dangerous, especially to a person who’s even a tiny bit inexperienced (but thinks that he’s experienced enough).  

Actually no one is experienced enough to be able to prepare for all the possible dangers of these fabulous places.

The other thing is that many times us adventurers and thrill lovers are independent travelers – we don’t use package or ready-made tours, and many times not even a local guide (if we’re that experienced that we know we can manage it without a local guide). This is all cool – but there are more dangers in this. If you forget to let someone know your DETAILED travel plan, no one will know of your exact whereabouts.

Before you go have an adventure like this, prepare yourself as perfectly as you can. Let’s take a look at the things you need to know before getting your adventure trip started.

Jungle Survival

The setting was something out of a travel brochure; in fact, it looked exactly like the travel brochure, with blue waters and pure white sandy beaches. The tropical rain forest made a perfect backdrop, and just like in the movies, the jungle was alive with sound…

The scent of tropical flowers was intoxicating. The breeze off the ocean swept away the insects and cooled the skin… The jungle was just there like a parallel universe. You imagined you could feel eyes on you as you lounged on the beach, eyes offering an invitation.

You briefly wondered what it would be like blazing a trail through uncharted jungle, exploring for ruins and maybe you would discover some lost city of gold or discover an as of yet unknown plant or animal species…

The guided tour was laughable; you wanted to explore the mist-shrouded mountains you could see from your balcony, you felt the need for adventure…

So the next day, you and your companion packed some good camping equipment, foods and drinks and took off to a private and very exciting adventure to the surrounding large jungle areas…

You didn’t advertise your little adventure too much – you just didn’t think it was that necessary really.

After 24 hrs, you’re in middle of remote, mountainous jungle, fight with some insects, try and figure out your way out of there and can’t even cross a powerful stream from anywhere. It’s beautiful yes and a nature explorer’s dream, but you’re also lost already and no one knows where you are…

Your drinks and foods are about to end soon and your cell phone does not have a network.

Hundreds if not thousands of people from experienced explores to tourists looking for adventure, have walked into the jungle to never walk out again.

Even ones with years of experience can be bitten by a deadly snake, insect, or fracture a leg bone and lay for days before succumbing to dehydration or a predator. The jungle is dangerous even when it is at its most beautiful. The need to know what is over the next hill or around the next bend is strong in many people. However, exploration is what has developed nations and built cities and towns.

The jungle is not malevolent, it is simply there, it does not plot and plan your demise you do by not being prepared and not understanding that your decisions have consequences and the wrong one may mean death.

If you must explore and find that mist shrouded mountain top then you must prepare and yet that is no guarantee.

 

Jungle Survival Quick Essentials

  1. Wear heavy long pants and long sleeved shirts for protection against thorny brush and insects and wear heavy high top shoes for protection against snake bite
  2. Have enough food for your expected time in the jungle and then add three more days worth
  3. Water for your expected time and the means to collect and purify water: You cannot rely on rainfall, so you must be able to collect filter and purify water by boiling or chemical treatment using iodine tablets or chlorine dioxide tablets (carry coffee filters for water filtering)
  4. Stainless steel canteens can be used to boil water in or use a camp coffee pot
  5. A quality and heavy brush knife (machete)
  6. Rope for shelter building at least 50 feet
  7. Multi-tool knife and a heavy fixed bladed knife
  8. Magnesium stick and Ferro rod for fire starting do not rely on matches even if they claim to be waterproof because one day in the jungle exposed matches are useless for fire starting
  9. Mosquito netting and insect repellent in liquid form it is recommended you use 100 percent DEET
  10. Rain poncho large enough to cover you and your shouldered pack can also be used for emergency shelter
  11. Extra socks, one day of wet feet and you can get trench foot/immersion foot which makes it impossible to walk so keep your feet dry at all cost
  12. Bush hat
  13. First aid kit and include a suture kit open wounds in the jungle can become infected in a matter of hours also carry a quality topical antiseptic such as 10% Providone-iodine (Betadine)
  14. Ask your health care provider to prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics for bacterial infections so inform your provider your intentions and make sure your vaccinations are up to date and inquire what shots are needed to enter the country you plan on visiting and also you should have malaria drugs with you
  15. Rope hammock to keep you off the ground at night

 Jungle Survival Methods and Techniques     

To some the jungle is an inhospitable place full of lurking predators with glowing eyes, and every insect, snake and plant waits to attach itself to your flesh. To others the jungle is a place to be explored, to conquer and tame. The jungle cannot be conquered or tamed. The jungle is not malevolent, and it does not have an agenda, it is simply there. It must be respected and those that come to it unprepared can find themselves in a life-threatening situation.

Overnight camping expeditions or even day hikes through the jungle can turn into nightmares quickly leaving you stranded and lost possibly miles from civilization.

You will find that your cells phones do not work in the jungle and any scratch or abrasion can turn into a deadly infection in a matter of days. In less than a week clothes can literally rot off your back if you do not know how to survive in the jungle.

Ideally, someone would know that you ventured off and after a few days would assume you need help. If you know that someone is looking for you, stay put.

Make camp and keep a signal fire burning. Clear a spot in the undergrowth to make it easier for anyone in an aircraft to spot you. If there is any elevation, build signals fires there, as well.

If you realize no one will be looking for you then you have to self-rescue, meaning you will have to hike out on your own. However, you will still need shelter, fire, water and food. Once you realize you are lost or stranded you will need to set up camp for the first night before it gets dark.

You cannot hike through the jungle at night, no matter how panicked you are or how convinced you are that civilization is just around the bend. If it were just up ahead, you would not be lost. You will need a shelter and an elevated sleeping platform and fire. Food though essential is not your first priority in the first few days. Shelter, water and fire are immediate concerns.

Inventory your supplies, for survival essentials.

Ideally, you will have matches, and other fire starting materials, a knife, and a large machete. Machetes are designed for jungle environments but if you have to cut your way through the brush, you need to find another way through. You may make 50 feet a day if you have to cut and slice through it. Use the machete as an extra hand to move or cut vines and other foliage away this prevents you from reaching your hand out and having it bitten by a snake.

Shelter

Use you machete or axe to cut poles to make your shelter and bed. Lay poles across logs to provide airspace and a zone of protection between you and the ground. The poles will be your sleeping platform. Use palm fronds or ferns as bedding if you do not have your own. Place a pole at each end and secure one across the top using the end poles as support, so other poles can be leaned against it. This will make a tent shape and then fill in with vegetation or use emergency blankets, ponchos or tarps if you have some with you. If you have netting suspend it, so your body is not in contact with the netting. Fill it in with foliage or any suitable materials you have with you and create a raised sleeping platform.

Fire is critical to keep insects and predators away it provides warmth and moral comfort, cooks food and purifies water.

If you do not have any fire starting materials with you then you will need to use friction to create a fire or intensify the sun’s rays using a magnifying glass or piece of glass to ignite dry tinder. Many compasses have a small magnifying glass included so do not overlook this essential tool. Make the fire using forest debris, shoelaces or the cord from your backpack. You will need dry tinder such as cotton from bandages from your first aid kit or pull threads from your clothing. You can also use a knife to peel bark from wood to find dry pulp underneath or by scraping along the wood to make shavings.

You will need shelter and fire even if you are only staying in place for the night. Once you have these essentials you must find water.

In the jungle to prevent dehydration you will need at a minimum of two quarts/liters daily and likely more if you are hiking out.

Water is everywhere in the jungle, but it contains harmful bacteria and parasites. If you have canteens and/or water bottles, you can use purification tablets, liquid iodine or boil your water for ten minutes to make it safe to drink.

If you do not have any purification, tablets or a vessel to boil water in you can drink water contained in vines and bamboo or possibly find an underground spring.

Surface water will be contaminated and you should never drink untreated water from any standing pool. Natural springs originate from underground. They can be found in rock crevices or in some cases bubbling up from the ground where many streams originate. Water that comes up through the soil is filtered and can be consumed in an emergency without treating. Ensure you collect as close to the source as possible.

Keep in mind animals will also use the source so you have to avoid water that has collected nearby.

Remove the possibly contaminated soil away from the source, and collect the water using a hollow piece of bamboo, your hands or a water bottle.

Green bamboo has water in its hollow stems. Bore a small hole and use a hollow reed as a straw or tip the bamboo to drain into your mouth. You can also carry bamboo with you and use it as a storage vessel.

Many vines contain water but the liquid must be clear, avoid milky or thick slimy liquid or any that has a bitter taste. To extract water slice a vine at head level and allow it to drip into your mouth or container. Once done turn the cut end up and secure for later use.

Side Note: Do not burn bamboo because it will explode from the heat because of the moisture content and the smoke is considered an irritant, and can cause breathing problems

Self-Rescue    

Hiking toward civilization is you goal but which way is civilization. Villages and towns are typically found close to a water source.

Rivers and streams in the jungle are highways and once you find one you will find civilization.

People will be going up and down waterways, and you can wait by a river or stream and catch the attention of someone or you can walk downstream to find a village. If you know there is a coast nearby follow birds to the coast or walk into the wind, the wind will come off the ocean waters.

People imagine snakes and large predators are hiding under every bush or behind every tree. Snakes as a rule try to avoid contact with people. People are bitten when they try to handle a snake or step on one.

You must watch where you are stepping and never lay or sit down until you have cleared the area with a stick or your machete. Never turn over rocks by hand or step over a log. Walk around fallen trees if possible.

Predators come out at night to include snakes so you must have a camp set up with a fire and shelter when it gets dark.

Try not to brush up against trees or bushes to avoid thorns and insects and always use your machete to move vines and foliage out of the way.

Because of the humidity, you must remove your clothes at night and dry them using smoke and fire.

Smoke will, to some extent remove bacteria from your clothes and skin. Dry your clothes every time you have a fire to prevent rot and bacteria growth. Inspect your body for ticks and leeches and treat every bite, cut or abrasion with alcohol, iodine or anti-bacterial cream from your first aid kit and if you do not have a first aid kit rinse abrasions frequently with hot water.

Food is plentiful in the jungle.

Mammals are safe to eat one cooked to a temperature sufficient to kill any bacteria or parasites present. Snakes can be eaten but unless you are in a crisis, and starvation is a possibility it is best to avoid trying to kill one. Fish and frogs can be eaten if cooked. Coconuts, papaya, wild yams and wild bananas can be found in many tropical jungles and of course are edible. Unless you know that a plant or fruit is safe to eat, you should avoid them. Coconuts bananas and papaya are easily recognizable but other fruits can be toxic. Ants, termites, earthworms and grubs are edible and easily obtained in the jungle. Avoid, fuzzy or brightly colored insects. Scorpions are edible and are considered a delicacy in many cultures. Be sure and remove the stinger before eating. Cooking any insect improves the flavor and reduces your risk of getting a parasite.

Tools Materials and Other Essentials for a Jungle Excursion

This article assumes you would have a minimal amount of food and water in your pack for your day hike or camping adventure along with suitable clothes and extra socks.

Machete

Multi-Tool Knife

Fixed Bladed Knife

50 Feet Of Quality Rope

Insect Repellent And Netting

Water Purification Tablets

Vessel To Boil Water In Such As A Camp Coffee Pot

Fire Starting Materials Other Than Matches Such As A Ferro Rod And Magnesium Stick

Compass

Magnifying Glass For Fire Starting

Dry Tinder For Fire Starting Such As Cotton Balls

First Aid Kit And Include Allergy Medication Over The Counter Pain Medication And Stomach Upset Medicine And Broad Spectrum Antibiotics Malaria Medication

Rain Poncho

Canteens For Water Collection And Transport

Fishing Tackle Spool Of 15-20 Pound Fishing Line Assorted Hooks

Thermal Blanket

Light Weight Nylon Tarp

Rope Hammock

 

 Desert Survival

What if something unexpected happens when you are driving in a huge desert area…? In a desert area like the ones in South Western United States, New Mexico, or Africa and Middle East.

What if simply something goes wrong with your strong SUV, you’re in middle of desert, even 100’s of kilometers to all directions, no one else around, no official roads, just the fabulous sandy desert and its valleys, mountains, hills and dunes…

What if your car breaks up, you’re in a desert like the one in Hills Have Eyes – movie and you have no idea what to do. Nothing you try fixes the issue.

You thought you knew something of cars but now you have no idea how to fix this thing. The nearest gas station or any sign of settlement must be dozens of miles away. Your cell phone does not work. What’d you do?

There have been numerous accounts of people setting off in their vehicles for a trip across the desert and becoming stranded because of a mechanical failure.

People today assume they can summon help or get what they need at the push of a button. Even with today’s technology, many areas of the country and world are in what are called “dead zones” where cell phones cannot receive a signal.

When planning a trip across the desert or across any remote expanse for that matter, you must prepare. Many times you can use the vehicle for shelter. However, do not assume you could do the same because it may have slide off into a ravine or have been damaged by an accident.

 

Quick Essentials for Desert Survival

Two Gallons Of Water Per Person Daily You Will Sweat And Lose More Body Fluids So The Typically One Gallon Per Day Is Not Enough (Assume You Will Be Stranded At Least Five Days)

Food Such As Beef Jerky And Other Ready To Eat Foods That Can Withstand Heat

Matches/Lighters And Other Fire Starting Tools And Materials

First Aid Kit

Signal Flag For Your Vehicle (Brightly Colored Cloth)

Thermal Blankets One For Each Person (The Desert Is Cold At Night Due To Radiant Heat Loss Because There Is No Cloud Cover To Prevent The Heat Loss And No Objects That Can Absorb Thermal Heat And Retain It)

Sturdy Shoes Long Pants And Long Sleeved Shirts The Desert Is Not The Place For Shorts Or Tropical Shirts You Will Need Cover From The Sun

Sun Hat

Sunscreen

Battery Operated Lights (For Signaling And Your Own Use) And Do Not Rely On Ones That Use Your Vehicle’s Battery

Sunglasses

Cloth For Collecting Dew From Your Vehicle Use The Cloth To Absorb Morning Moisture From Glass And Metal Surfaces

Tarps For Emergency Shelter

Multi-Tool/Axe/ Machete/ Fixed Bladed Knife

Small Shovel

Coffee Filters For Emergency Water Filtration

Water Purification Tablets

Desert Survival

You can become stranded or even lost in the desert for various reasons and one of the more common occurrences is mechanical failure as people drive across large expanses of desert.

The desert puts a strain on humans and machinery alike. The heat alone during the day can cause an otherwise functioning vehicle to fail.

Heat will cause engines to overheat and tires to fail leaving you alongside the road miles from any town. In some cases, people have miscalculated their fuel usage and have run out of fuel miles from home. Hiking in the deserts has it perils as well, an injury, or a miscalculation on directions can leave you and lost and wandering aimlessly as night falls.

If you do become stranded stay with your vehicle for at least the first night because, it is your shelter from the cold and predators. If you have the means start a fire.

Fire is needed for warmth, cooking and to signal people you are in distress. Water is a priority, and if you have any empty, water bottles or canteens do not discard them. You may very well have to spend the first night huddled inside your vehicle without a fire.

You will notice the next morning that your vehicle is covered in moisture. This moisture or dew can save your life.

Dew is atmospheric moisture heated during the day, which then settles on cooling surfaces in the early morning hours. The sun during the day evaporates moisture and it collects in the atmosphere. As night settles, surfaces near the ground begin to cool which allows the moisture to condensation on glass, metal, vegetation and plastic. Absorb the dew from any surface using a clean piece of cloth. Then squeeze the cloth into your mouth or a container.

Once morning comes, you have to decide if you will stay with the vehicle or attempt to walk back to civilization.

If you had told others of your plans they may very well alert the authorities and they may be begin searching after 24 hours. If someone does know your schedule, it is recommended you stay in place.

If you plan to hike out you will need to get prepared. You will need to calculate how long it will take and are you physically able to hike for miles. The average adult can walk at about three miles per hour.

Take terrain and rest breaks into account. Therefore, if you are 50 miles from civilization you can determine roughly how long it would take.

In the desert, you would have to walk at night because the heat during the day will dehydrate you quicker than you can consume water. Additionally you will have to know whether your destination or where you started from is closer.

You should hike along the road you where traveling on if you had become stranded while driving.

The road is your guide back to civilization and many roads do not run in a straight line but to keep from getting lost you must follow it.

If you became lost while hiking, you can follow railroad tracks, power lines and roads, if you do not have a compass or simply do not know which direction to travel in.

If you are in desert of the South Western United States walking west may be your best option because civilization is closer to the ocean. The sun sets in the west so plot your direction of travel using the sun and landmarks as a visual reference.

Desert Water

There is very limited surface water in the desert hence the reason it is a desert as defined by less than 16 inches/400 millimeters of rainfall annually.

However, plants and shrubs as well as the soil itself can store water that you can obtain. Dry creeks beds with surrounding vegetation are ideal places to construct a solar water distiller if you have plastic with you. You may have plastic garbage or grocery bags in your vehicle, which can be used. You will also need a tool for digging such as a tire iron or stout stick and a collection cup.

Find an area that has vegetation, which indicates ground moisture.

When digging the depression you must ensure the plastic you have can cover the entire hole. Put the collection cup in a small depression in the hole and add green vegetation without covering the cup. The sun’s rays will evaporate/sweat moisture from the plants and the soil. The moisture will collect and condense on the topside of the plastic. Place a small rock over the cup and put a small hole in the plastic over the cup. This gives the water a place to drain to and then begin dripping into the cup under the plastic. You can expect with the right conditions to collect up to two quarts in 24 hours. Use this method and others to build a supply of water.

Plants

Plants do contain water and can be a source of food as well. However, you are cautioned not to eat any plant unless you are sure it is safe. The following are very common and easily recognizable plants found in many deserts. The plants or fruits are edible and can be a source of hydration as well.

The Prickly Pear fruit is edible as well as the leaves once the thorns have been burnt off over a fire. Squeeze the leaves for water, before cooking or eat raw for nourishment as well as hydration.

The Christmas cactus has small hard red berries that have thorns that must be scraped off before eating. The berry is very tasteful similar to a strawberry and it contains some liquid to help with hydration.

The fruit of the Saguaro Cactus is edible and it is juicy so it provides nutrition and hydration. All of the listed plants and fruits are edible but ensure you know what you are eating.

Any mammal you can capture in the desert is edible along with crickets, locusts, scorpions, termites, ants, grubs and earthworms. It is recommended you first roast any insect over a fire to kill any bacteria or parasites present. The stinger from the scorpion must be removed before attempting to eat or handle. Pin the body down with a stick and cut the stinger off with a knife or sharp rock. All wild game must be cooked to a temperature sufficient to kill any bacteria or parasites that may be present.

Fire

Start a fire using a piece of glass, eyeglasses or the magnifier that maybe included with your compass. If you became stranded in your vehicle, you can start a fire using the battery by attaching battery cables to both posts and striking the cable ends together. Ensure you do not ignite a fire near the battery or under the vehicles hood. Strike the ends over a dry tinder pile or connect both ends to a piece of bare wire. The wire will heat up enough to ignite the dry tinder.

Shelter

Shelter in the desert is important for protection from the hot sun during the day and to keep you warm you at night. Shelter can be your vehicle, a rain poncho or tarp or thick bush you can crawl under or even a sand pit.

Dig a sand trench deep enough that your body is below ground and then a foot longer than your body. Cover two thirds of the trench with a poncho and/or vegetation and then pile sand along the sides and ends to add more protection. Crawl inside with your head facing away from the uncovered end. This is protection from the sun as well as the cold.

More on Desert Survival Essentials – Make sure to have these with you

Carry as much water as you can whether you are in a vehicle or hiking. You simply cannot have too much water.

Carry as much food as you can as well.

It is assumed you would have sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and bandanna for protection from the sun along with appropriate clothing for the deserts such as long pants and long sleeved shirt.

Multi-Purpose Knife

Camp Ax

Fixed Bladed Knife

Fire Starting Materials Matches Magnesium Stick Ferro Rod Magnifying Glass

Compass And Map Of The Area And State

Canteens For Water Collection

Sheet Of Clear Plastic 5×5

Rope

Digging Tool

Empty Can Or Water Bottle For Use With A Solar Still

Poncho/Tarp For Shelter And Ground Cloth

Thermal Blanket

Signal Mirror

Signal Flag For Your Vehicle

Jumper Cables If Traveling By Vehicle

Water Purification Tablets

Clean Cotton Cloth

NOW you’re ready to start planning on those jungle and desert adventure trips….!

Remember to stay safe and don’t overestimate your skills and level of experience and knowledge – Be humble enough!

 

 

Surviving in The Wilderness… after getting completely lost.

Beautiful fall time is here again, at least in this part of the planet…

One of the most amazing things to do right now, is go hiking to the magnificent nature, to wilderness, and just enjoy the beautiful views, pristine nature, colors, fresh air, the sometimes warm but usually little chilly and crisp fall sunshine…

Fall is very inspiring and magical time, very atmospheric time, and most of all, perfect for outdoor recreation and wilderness adventures. The weather’s not too hot, but at its best can be fresh and nicely warm and ideal for hiking and walking. The colors of the nature are mesmerizing, the landscapes awe-inspiring. The irritating injects are gone…

So you decide to have a wilderness adventure for a long day from early morning till as late evening as you can before it becomes dark, or, even for two days, or perhaps for a long weekend. You decide to go hiking to some beautiful mountainous wilderness forests by yourself, or with your loved one or a friend.

Is there anything more adventurous and romantic than to go hiking for example to magnificent mountain forests with your loved one for a day or two in fantastically beautiful fall weather…? No there’s not – that’s one of the most romantic and exciting experiences you two can share.

Or.. is there anything more relaxing and inspiring than to take a whole day off just by yourself and go hiking to wilderness for a long day from morning till evening…?

So you pack your things and start your adventure in one sunny, crisp Friday or Saturday morning.

BUT what happens when you go out there, have amazing time, AND, get completely lost by the end of the day..? Or something else happens…?

Anything can happen to anyone when going hiking to large forest areas, mountains and complete wilderness, even if you are somewhat experienced, are pretty familiar with the area, or go there just for a one day’s outdoor recreation.

It can also happen if you go there with someone else instead of going alone (don’t think you can’t get lost if you’re there with your loved one and feel safe..!).

Perhaps you plan a one-day relaxing hike in a large forest area you hiked in before and feel that one bottle of water and an energy bar is enough.

The weather is fine and heavy clothes would be a burden. You decide not to take your survival kit with you. You go hiking and enjoy every moment…

At some point, you step out of the marked routea little, just to see that gorgeous mountain better you just noticed… You hike a little in the forest and admire the views with full focus.

And by the end of the day, you’re completely lost…It’s also getting dark fast. You start feeling cold and become slowly more and more scared. Before you know the sun has set and it’s dark and there you are in some mountainous forest area and have no idea where you are.

This scene plays out across the country and the world every day.

A one day’s normal hike can turn into a nightmare of days wandering lost in the woods. Injuries, unexpected weather events, encounters with wild animals or simply disorientation can leave anyone lost or stranded.

Rescue personnel have repeatedly documented finding lost hikers, campers, hunters, nature enthusiasts and cross country skiers sometimes just a few miles from civilization. Some had already succumbed to dehydration and hypothermia before rescue personnel could find them cause they had nothing with them other than light equipment. But regardless that they’ve been pretty nearby civilization, they haven’t been able to get out of the woods because they didn’t know what to do and/or acted inefficiently based on fear.

People obviously never expect that they would need to be in the woods for any longer than they planned originally.

The younger and more inexperienced you are, the cockier you usually are for what comes to having adventures in the woods or wilderness vs your safety. Or you can be all grown up too, any age, and still feel over-safe when going to wilderness.

And what comes to really adventurous kids… like I was when I was under or barely over 10 years. Well it’s not a good combination; an over-adventurous, over-confindent and bold kid wandering to large forest area by her/himself without any safety equipment whatsoever and without telling anyone where she/he went, and not even realizing that something could go wrong.

I did this once when I was about 10 years; there was this one magnificent and large rocky formation far away in the forests and high on the hillsides in the area where our family’s winter vacation home is, and I wanted to go there to see how it looks like in winter time, cause I loved the place. There weren’t (and still aren’t) any kinds of paths or anything that way in winter time, just deep snow and steep hills to climb. So, first, I walked along one larger road, and then went to a smaller road and walked there for some time, and finally went to the snowy forest after walking on the road for some time. After about 2 and half hours I was almost there. But then  I got caught in the snow as there was snow almost till my waist, I remember that clearly. My feet got caught in some under-snow crack between some rocks. I remember that I was not worried or scared at all in that point, although I couldn’t get out of there, I was just like “damn…” But I was able get out of there by myself after some time and after a few hours I got back finally, it was already late afternoon. (My parents were already worried by that time as I had disappeared and they had no idea where I was.)

So please, teach your kids to be careful and always to tell where they are going!

I recall also one incident that happened to my dad many years ago; he went to some wilderness forest and swamp area in late morning and had nothing with him other than the needed equipment to pick berries and a bottle of water.  He planned on picking berries for a couple of hours. He ended up lost and could finally get back after midnight more than 12 hrs later, little bit after the police was called.

NOTE; cell phone is not always enough, and it does NOT replace the survival kit even if it was!

When you go to wilderness, you must take into account that even in today’s world there are plenty of areas that are not covered by cellphone networks. And even if you were in an area that is covered by the network, there MAY be shade areas where you can’t use your cell phone. Luckily though in today’s world a person usually can be tracked down based on the cellphone signal in a case of emergency, even if it was just a weak signal.

However when you go out to wilderness, this is not enough alone. Still you need to have a basic survival kit with you.

An important note regarding cell phones; remember to make sure that your cell phone is fully charged before you go!

You must be prepared with a basic survival kit when going hiking, no matter what kind of trip you’ve planned on doing.

If it’s a serious hiking trip for one day in large wilderness forest areas, it’s enough of a reason to prepare with a survival kit.

It don’t matter, if it’s just a one day’s hiking trip, if you’ve been in the area before, or, if it’s just a quick idea you got a moment ago and decide to go immediately to some forests, reachable after a short car-drive, to hiking for the rest of the day.

Even more so you need to be well prepared with a survival kit, if your hiking trip is going to be more demanding, such as an over-night hiking trip or hiking for couple of days, and if the area is very demanding and/or un-known to you. Don’t be cocky for what comes to safety.

Also, always, always inform someone close to you, such as a family member or a friend if you decide to hiking. This way someone knows where you’ve gone – and if they don’t start hearing from you, they can inform the rescuers where you’ve gone.

The survival kit should be adapted to your personal needs to include extra contacts or eyeglasses, prescription medications and any medical devices that may be required, or anything else that you personally may require should you need to say out there for longer time than you expected.

You should update and adapt your survival kit according to the seasons and geography of your planned hiking area.

An example for adaptation for geography would include rope and cold weather gear if you were planning a hike in a mountainous region. Weather at higher altitudes changes rapidly and you must pack accordingly.

Keep in mind the items in your survival kit would be in addition to any standard supplies you would normally carry along on a hike or camping trip. The items in the kit can easily be packed into any backpack.

Survival Kit Essentials for a pretty demanding one-day hiking in large wilderness forest areas or for a demanding hiking trip (anything longer and more demanding than the previous one)

– Multi-Tool

– Fixed Bladed Knife

– Fishing Line/Monofilament

– Assortment of Fishhooks

– Quality Rope/String/Twine

– First Aid Kit Add A Suture Kit (A Suture Kit Has Surgical Thread Along With Various Sized Needles For Stitching Up Wounds )

– 2% Liquid Iodine With Dropper For Water Purification (Can Use Iodine Pills Or Crystals As Well)

– Two (2)  One-Quart/Liter Canteens (Recommend Stainless)

–  Small Metal Container That Can Be Used To Boil Water Such As A Camp Coffee Pot

–  Coffee Filters For Water Filtration

–  Magnesium Stick

–  Signal Mirror

–  Cotton Cloth

–  Rain Gear/ Ponchos/Tarps

–  Petroleum Jelly

–  Cotton Balls

–  Light Gauge Wire (20 to 24 Gauge)

–  Camp Axe

–  Lensatic Compass And A Topographical Map Of Your Intended Camping Or Hiking Area

– Entrenching Tool/Folding Shovel

– Flashlight and Batteries

Always carry your emergency kit on every outdoor outing and carry one in your vehicle as well. Purchase multiples of each item so you can practice when on an outing. Knowledge and skill will quell panic, so it is important you become familiar with all your survival tools and materials.

Pack with a little creativity, and you will see that most of the items will fit quite easily in with your other gear.

You may be wondering why not just pack enough water for an extended period. Water weighs roughly 8.5lbs/ 3.6kgs per gallon in its container, and each person needs, on average one gallon of water per day. Typically, a person on a day hike will carry about two quarts/liters. Water simply weighs too much to carry enough for an extended period. That is why it is extremely important you know how to collect and purify any water source if you become stranded.

The same theory applies when packing food. You will of course pack food supplies for overnight camping and typically will have easy to eat foods for hiking such as protein bars, trail mix and so forth. Once again, your survival kit is in addition to any food or water supplies you would traditionally carry.

Your survival kit provides you the means to survive extended periods in the wilderness, after the food and water you packed have run out.

 

What to do if you get lost?

If your wonderful hiking trip turns into a little more adventurous than you originally expected, or even starts reminding of some nightmare – this is what you must do.

If, by the end of the day, or after hiking for pretty long time, you get lost and just suddenly don’t know at all where you’re at, there are some simple things you need to remember and do.

You Must Have Shelter

The rules of three states that shelter is required within three hours of becoming stranded whereas, you can live for three days without water. Logic therefore, would dictate that shelter is the main priority. This is true to some extent but in the hours leading up to dehydration, the body’s functions are limited. Your vision becomes blurred and you will develop severe headaches, possibly even hallucinations. In other word if you cannot find a water source and or do not have the means to collect or purify that water you will not physically be able to build a shelter and forage for food. Subsequently, you must compromise by constructing a field expedient shelter to meet your immediate needs. Once you have secured a reliable water source you can improve upon the shelter.

To build a substantial protective shelter that will serve as a more permanent structure you will need a, hand axe/machete, poles trimmed and cut about five or six feet long, rope or wire and the cutters from a multi-tool. Begin by crossing the pole ends over another and binding together. It is just a matter of securing the first three poles together so they stand. From there just fill in as needed with forest debris.

Quick shelters can be constructed from tarps or rain ponchos without any tools by draping the material over several poles that are interlocked.  Find a fallen log and pile forest debris on one side leaving room for you lay down as a quick shelter . If you have a shovel or you can use a rock, blunt stick, to scoop out some dirt next to the log to provide more space and you can use the excavated soil for more protection from the elements.

Shelter can be the clothes you are wearing, a pile of leaves or a branch/ tree that shades you from the hot sun or cold wind. In frigid climates without proper clothing, you can develop life threatening hypothermia in less than an hour if you cannot find or construct adequate shelter.

Water

Water is a priority in any situation, and during the course of your daily life, you may not be aware of the various ways you hydrate yourself. Juice, coffee, sports drinks, tea and even foods can add to the body’s required daily fluid intake. The body to replace fluid loss through urination, perspiration, and breathing, needs on average two-quarts/liters daily. You can only go for 72-hours without adequate fluids before you begin to dehydrate. Untreated dehydration is fatal 100 percent of the time.

Any water source you find in the wilderness must be filtered and purified before it is considered safe to drink. Sources include rivers, streams, lakes, cisterns and ponds.

Filtering is important because debris and sediments in the water will make boiling and chemical purification less effective. Filter using sand/gravel, which can be found along most streams and rivers, coffee filters, cloth and charcoal. Use an empty can with a hole in the bottom as a filtering device or use a two-liter plastic soda bottle with the top half cut off. Layer the filtering mediums in whatever container you use. Pour the contaminated water from the vessel used to collect the water and allow it to filter into a clean canteen for chemical purification or a container to boil the water.

Boiling Water

Filter all water sources before boiling to purify water. Water must rapid boil for at least one minute at sea level and up to three minutes if you are in a mountainous/high elevation region. Water boils at a lower temperature at higher elevations because of less air pressure. Water therefore, must boil longer at lower temperatures to destroy all waterborne contaminates.

Two Percent Liquid Iodine

Filter the water from the container used to collect water into a clean container for purification. The container used to collect the contaminated water will have contaminates around the drink line and it can be hazardous to drink from the container until it has been properly disinfected. The ratio is based on a one-quart/liter container. Add five drops of iodine to the container, seal, shake well and allow 30 minutes before drinking. If the water is cloudy even after filtration, you can double the drops and wait an additional 30 minutes. Never exceed 10 drops of iodine per quart/liter of water.

Do you stay in place or try to walk out?

Don’t start panicking if you realize you’re lost and it’s getting dark and colder. This is the worst thing you can do. Instead maintain your head and mind clear, calm down, and start thinking calmly and clearly which of the two options RIGHT NOW in that moment is the best.

Logically if you knew your way, you would not be lost in the first place, and thus logic can tell you that by wandering around you can make it more difficult for rescue personnel to find you.

But on the other hand, it’s not a good idea either to let yourself get too inactive and just remain where you are for long time and get little by little more scared and mentally frozen. This way you can ultimately make yourself weaker as you mentally decide to give up.

Think of the situation; if it’s yet daylight and you have some time before it gets dark, you can take action and start moving strategically.

If it’s very soon dark, you should just find a safe place where to stay for the night.

Even if you have a good flashlight and extra batteries, don’t start aimlessly wandering in the dark forest.  Safe the batteries rather than use them all now in one night.

Thrashing and stumbling through the brush in a panic will cause injury, burn up precious energy and you will become dehydrated more quickly.

Rescuers will attempt to track from where they believe you began your adventure. They will have a more difficult time finding you if you continue to wander aimlessly.

So stay in place if it gets dark soon and it is safe, and, you have shelter and water. You can survive up to three weeks without food and it is very likely you will be rescued before starvation.

If you decide to leave or feel you have to self-rescue, leave markers along the way for rescue personnel. Follow any stream or river down-stream or if you are in a coastal area try and find the ocean. Look for railroad tracks and power lines and follow in whatever direction your instinct tells you. You should walk slowly and never run or jog. You will injure yourself, burn energy, and deplete body fluids needlessly.

 

Wilderness Survival  – Finding Your Way Out

Coming to the realization you are lost is a process than can induce panic. Your heart begins to race and every tree and turn of the trail looks familiar yet when you run to the next turn or familiar looking tree you see emptiness ahead.

Your instinct is to literally run in circles and crash through the brush. Your panicked mind believes that running faster will get you home quicker.

As difficult as it is once you realize you are lost, you must stop all what you’re doing for a while, and calmly and clearly evaluate the situation. Keep yourself together!

Blundering through the woods will cause injuries and you will use up valuable energy and water. Stop and attempt to relax. Your ability to think will be as important in saving your life, as any tools or materials you have in your pack.

Do all it takes to get yourself to calm down before doing anything else. You MUST be able to think clearly and calmly, that’s the number one thing in finding your way out.

First, inventory your supplies.

How much food and water do you have? You must begin rationing food and water immediately. Small sips of water are more beneficial than drinking large amounts all at once. Do not begin eating from stress. Do not drink all your water now – save it for later.

You will need the energy from what food you do have, to hike out of the wilderness, so save your food until you are ready to begin hiking.

Water is critical and you must have an adequate amount everyday to prevent dehydration.

Your body loses fluids by breathing, which is more evident in colder climates, when you can literally see the fluids (your breath) evaporating from your body. Heavy breathing from stress or exertion will increase fluid loss as well as perspiring, urination, and digesting high protein foods.

Do you have a shelter in your pack or the means to make shelter? If your immediate area is safe, make camp where you are before it gets dark. You must have a shelter and fire for the night. Don’t start wandering around blindly in the darkness!

It cannot be stressed enough you must stop and assess your situation before it gets to dark to make camp.

Unless your life is in immediate danger, from being pursued, you should never attempt to hike through the woods at night because the hazards are simply too great.

The dangers of trying to make your way out at night include possible encounters with active nocturnal predators including dangerous reptiles. You can also walk off the edge of a cliff or gorge in the dark, fall into a hole, collide with, or trip over any number of things and break a bone.

Keep your mind busy with camp chores, set up your tent/shelter or build a shelter with available forest debris and get a fire started. Now is also the ideal time to collect and purify more drinking water for the hike out beginning in the morning. You do not know if you will find any water sources on your hike, so when you have the opportunity, always top off your water supply using approved collection and purification methods.

Secondly think of any possibly signs you can create for the rescuers.

If you can safely start several fires, do so for signaling rescue personnel. Forest rangers in some areas scan continually for forest fires by looking for smoke and flame. Some rescue units may not search at night but campers or others may spot your signal fire.

To help make it easier for rescue personnel to find you, leave markers by hanging cloth from tree branches or forming arrows on the ground, with sticks or stones pointing in the direction of travel. Rescue personnel will attempt to locate your point of entry and track you. Running in circles will only make it more difficult for rescuers to find you. Travel in one direction as the terrain allows, and be mindful that most people will walk in circles if they cannot focus visually on a landmark.

Thirdly, you must have energy to make the hike out so if your food supply is limited, save eating. You will need the energy for walking and not sleeping.  

Make sure you save foods and drink water intelligently. The most important thing is the water, so if your own water bottles are getting empty, you will need to find a source for water, then filter and boil it and use it as drinking water. The warmer the weather, the more you’re gonna need water, even if it’s pretty mild fall weather .

Fourthly, when you start walking, proceed systemically and calmly.

Following rivers or streams or finding the coast can lead to civilization. Many towns and cities got their start near rivers and large bodies of water because of the need for water, power for mills and commerce from shipping.

Always walk downstream, upstream will lead you farther into the wilderness in most cases.

Railroad tracks lead to towns and cities, as do utility lines.

Deciding which way to follow the tracks or power lines is based on your own instincts keeping in mind the tracks came from somewhere and are headed somewhere else, and this generally applies to overhead power lines as well.

Pick a tree or large rock to walk to, and once there focus on another prominent landmark, walk toward it, and so on.

You can also use the sun to stay on course, by knowing the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

As you face the rising sun, north is to your left and south to your right. Once the sun has reached its zenith, keep it on one shoulder to stay on course and as it lowers, keep the setting sun ahead of you. Use this method if you are not walking along railroad tracks or moving downstream alongside a river or stream.

It is never a good idea to walk fast if you are hiking your way out.

You will have the urge to hurry but you must suppress it. Speed walking or jogging is not the answer even if the terrain would allow it. You will burn too much energy and increase your risk of dehydration and injuries such as a twisted or broken ankle. Walk slowly and if you have a walking or hiking stick use it and if not make one. You will need it for balance and for help getting up and down inclines.

Take breaks and sip your water, and always top off your water supply when you have the chance. Do not rush and be ready long before sundown to make camp for another night. You need time for your shelter and collecting more water. You will survive if you can keep hydrated and do not panic and injure yourself.

If rescue personnel realize from tracking you, that you are moving in a straight line they will attempt to predict your course and determine where you might be at a certain time.

Self-guessing yourself is not helpful so maintain the state of mind that you will be found or you will find civilization. If you are following a watercourse, railroad tracks or power lines you will come to a town or highway eventually.

You can walk your way out of the wilderness and depending on the terrain, your physical capabilities and other factors it may take several days. However, it can be done and has been done by hundreds if not thousands of campers, hunters, nature enthusiast and campers.

People panic because they simply do not know what to do next.

Training, knowledge and confidence in yourself will quell panic allowing you to go about the business of finding your way home.

If you love the idea of hiking in the wilderness, remember also to practice your bush craft such as shelter building, water collection, purification and fire starting so you will know what to do when the time comes.

Happy hiking…!