American Survival 101

"The rules of survival never change, whether you're in a desert or in an arena." – Bear Grylls

January 20, 2016

Paddling for the Long Haul

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Nobody is get­ting younger. Unfor­tu­nately for you and I, that includes us. For every friend who is pad­dling well past retire­ment age—and I even have a friend who’s pad­dled water­falls in his 80s—and I have another who is com­plain­ing about how pad­dling is now tough on his back, shoul­ders, or some other joint. How can we set our­selves up for long and endur­ing careers on the water?

PRO­TECT YOUR BACK

Pad­dling is hard on the back. As we age and become less flex­i­ble, sit­ting for long hours in the kayak­ing posi­tion gets harder, and we have less flex­i­bil­ity to rotate. That means mak­ing sure you’re doing a good job warm­ing up, stretch­ing, and head­ing to the gym to restore lost flex­i­bil­ity early and often. As I’ve aged, I’ve become a lot more picky about my kayak out­fit­ting and seat posi­tion. When we can’t rotate far enough on our strokes, we tend to com­pen­sate by reach­ing with our arms, and that will not help you.

PRO­TECT YOUR SHOUL­DERS

Shoul­ders, along with backs, are the main area for pad­dling injuries. Instruc­tors use a vari­ety of tech­niques to get pad­dlers to keep their shoul­ders intact, rang­ing from the “paddler’s box” to teach­ing stu­dents to roll hold­ing a sponge between the elbow and the torso.

The main thing to focus on is to avoid reach­ing, and instead focus on mov­ing the legs, hips and torso to keep your shoul­ders in a pro­tected posi­tion. Phys­i­cal ther­a­pists and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als can help you develop strength in the small mus­cles that sta­bi­lize the shoul­ders. Over my pad­dling career, my pad­dles seem to get shorter with each one that I buy. A shorter pad­dle reduces the lever­age on your soft tis­sues, espe­cially if you’re using a large blade with a stiff mate­r­ial like car­bon fiber.

DON’T SQUEEZE THE PAD­DLE

Now that we’re talk­ing pad­dles, grip it lightly. A clenched grip will only result in arm fatigue, and even­tu­ally, elbow tendonitis.

FREE YOUR HIPS AND YOUR MIND WILL FOL­LOW

Sit­ting in a kayak for long hours will stretch the ham­strings and com­press the hip flex­ors. Work hard to off­set that effect by stretch­ing the front of your core. Find com­pli­men­tary stretches and work­outs that off­set the mus­cle imbal­ances that can come from too much time in that position.

WARM UP AND STRETCH

As we age, we lose flex­i­bil­ity and resiliency— I have to stretch much more reli­giously and slowly than I did when I was younger. Remem­ber: don’t stretch while you’re cold: a fac­tor to keep in mind when you’re pad­dling in the win­ter, and when you have a bunch of boats to get down to the water after you’ve been sit­ting stiff in a car for an hour.

 

January 17, 2016

Winter Climbing Pro Tips

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Wild. Serene. Snowy. Treach­er­ous. Climb­ing a peak in win­ter is a unique wilder­ness expe­ri­ence, one des­o­late and void of crowds, but also one that can turn even the tamest of trails into snowy cornice-laden traps that catch unsus­pect­ing hik­ers off guard. Whether it’s a four­teener in Col­orado, or a win­tery jagged ridge in the north­ern Cas­cades, climb­ing in the cold months presents unique chal­lenges and haz­ards. Here are six tips for max­i­miz­ing a safe and suc­cess­ful win­ter climb.

HOPE FOR THE BEST, PLAN FOR THE WORST

In win­ter, weather con­di­tions can change sud­denly and with lit­tle warn­ing. Know how to read cloud pat­terns, know how fast you’re mov­ing and where your posi­tion is in rela­tion to incom­ing weather, and make a plan to be off the moun­tain if need be. Get on the trail with the men­tal­ity to con­tinue on until cir­cum­stances no longer allow safe pas­sage. Expect the sum­mit to only be the halfway point, and take into con­sid­er­a­tion how an exhausted party might han­dle the return part of the trip if weather con­di­tions go awry.

ADAPT MEALS FOR COLD CON­DI­TIONS

When plan­ning for a win­ter climb, hav­ing essen­tial hot foods like tea, broth, and soup help the body stay warm, but also pack foods that have high calo­rie and fat burn­ing prop­er­ties to stay com­fort­able over what’s sure to be a long time. Foods with high fat con­tent burn slower, includ­ing dry salamis, sausages, and beef jerky. This is espe­cially cru­cial before tuck­ing in for the night, let­ting calo­ries and fat burn while sleep­ing. When on the moun­tain, pack foods that are eas­ily com­pressed in a pack or bot­tle. Pack hot liq­uids, soup, or jerky to pro­vide warm essen­tials for a sus­tained energy supply.

DON’T TAKE THE ROUTE AT FACE VALUE

A climb­ing trail looks dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent from sum­mer to win­ter. A gen­tle trail through the for­est could be an avalanche zone when nearby peaks are snow-loaded. A thin, rocky ridge that’s cau­tiously crossed in the warmer months is sud­denly severely cor­niced to the point where snow can cre­ate the illu­sion of being much more sta­ble than it really is. Under­stand what a wind slab is and know how cru­cial it is to stay off snow that feels chalky and overly loose. Fur­ther­more, don’t assume the route off another party’s tracks. A trail that may have been suc­cess­ful for one group of climbers could poten­tially change within hours, expos­ing crevasses, break­ing snow bridges, and load­ing unsta­ble snow from the slopes above.

PACK SUP­PORT­IVE GEAR

One of the most frus­trat­ing feel­ings is to get to the trail­head and real­ize that snow­shoes, cram­pons, or an ice axe are absolutely needed. Pack with the most extreme con­di­tions in mind, safety gear or climb­ing equip­ment that may be of use, even for just a few moments, are bet­ter in the pack than at home. If faced with knee-deep pow­der, bring snow­shoes and skis, with cram­pons for ascend­ing steep, icy trails. Keep an ice axe packed for zones where self-arrest may be nec­es­sary, and a short length of rope if a crevasse needs to be crossed.

 

January 13, 2016

Fishing Tips for Beginners

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Fish­ing and camp­ing have always gone hand in hand. Head to the dock of your local lake­side camp­ground, and you’ll likely see at least a few lines in the water. And increas­ingly, thanks to improve­ments in light­weight mate­ri­als and tech­nol­ogy, back­pack­ing and fish­ing go hand in hand. Rods are lighter, stronger, and more com­pact than ever before; mak­ing fish­ing pos­si­ble on even the longest back­pack­ing adventures.

Those who are will­ing to try this hands-on approach to fish­ing, and hike higher and far­ther than their fel­low anglers, will be rewarded with pris­tine fish­ing, jaw-dropping scenery, and none of the crowds one might find at a more acces­si­ble spot. The fish will be smaller, espe­cially in higher alpine lakes and streams, but they are also more likely to be wild. And more fun to catch.

WENAHA RIVER, ORE­GON

Sit­u­ated in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilder­ness, the waters of this river in East­ern Ore­gon even­tu­ally flow into the Colum­bia River and out to the Pacific Ocean. This means that, unlike some of the other areas on this list, the Wenaha offers fish­er­men the chance to fight good-sized steel­head and salmon. Not bad con­sid­er­ing the Wenaha trail­head begins at about 3,000 ft. in ele­va­tion. The Wenaha River Trail itself runs par­al­lel to the river, leav­ing plenty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to stop and make a few casts.

WIND RIVER RANGE, WYOMING
The Wind River Range of west­ern Wyoming is a revered des­ti­na­tion for high alpine fly fish­ing. There are more than 1,000 lakes in the area, which is part of the Bridger-Teton National For­est. Nearly 300 of these high alpine lakes were stocked with fish in the 1930’s, mak­ing Wind River a mecca for the trout-addicted. The fish pop­u­la­tions in the area are now self-sustaining, thanks in no small part to the remote­ness of the Wind River Range and the effort needed to reach the lakes.

GOLDEN TROUT WILDER­NESS, CAL­I­FOR­NIA
The Wind River Range also sus­tains a sta­ble golden trout pop­u­la­tion. But, if the goal of a fish­ing trip is to catch this endan­gered species, head to the Sier­ras. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through a por­tion of this aptly-named wilder­ness area, as do another 400 miles of barely touched trails. This is the orig­i­nal habi­tat of the golden trout, and as any angler can attest, there’s a cer­tain added ful­fill­ment that comes with catch­ing a native species of fish.

 

January 03, 2016

4 Survival Skills in the Wilderness

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Think quickly and clearly—you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere with darkness falling and no help in sight. What are your observations? Can you maximize security and safety? Keep in mind that there are a lot of risks in the wilderness. You just need to stay sharp and be creative. Below is a list of survival skills you should possess. Let this be your gauge or test for wilderness survival. Read on.

Survival Skill #1 – Finding a suitable campsite

First thing you need to do is to look for a suitable campsite and as much as possible you have to stay high and dry. Avoid valleys and paths where water may flow toward you. Look for areas free from natural dangers like insect nests and widow makers—dead branches that may crash down in the middle of the night as well as heavy rocks. Ideally, you need to be closer to resources like running water, dry wood and rocky walls or formations that can you can use as a shield from natural dangers.

Survival Skill #2 – Building a shelter

As per reports, hypothermia is the number one outdoor killer in cold weather. This only means you need to build or find a well-insulated shelter in a prolonged survival situation. To make it easier for you, look for a downed tree resting at an angle, or set a large branch securely against a standing tree. You can also collect and build a shelter with smaller branches close together on one side. Make sure to insulate yourself from the cold ground—maybe you could layer 4 to six inches of debris to lie on to keep your body warm.

Survival Skill #3 – Making a fire

Other than traditional stone or wood friction, you can also start a fire with batteries. According to experts, you can do this by short-circuiting the batter. To do this, you need to connect the negative and positive terminals with a wire, foil, or steel wool to build a spark and drive onto your tinder bundle. Collect as much firewood as you can.

Survival Skill 4 – Finding clean water

There are only two kinds of water you can find in the wild—the potable one that you can drink and water that can actually kill you. When you find water from puddles and streams, you might want to boil them first. Boiling can kill pathogens, but sometimes this is not an option.

Survival Skill 5 – Getting a food

In the wild, you need to be resourceful and creative. If you can’t hunt, then you need to find some edible fruits and leaves to survive. And when in doubt, don’t eat it!  Hunting is a great art to learn, and we have many friends out there that have spent years Hunting and learning how to stalk their prey.  Our friends over at Texas Specialty Hunts offer Helicopter Hog Hunting and more!  After 23 years of Hunting they can teach you all you need to know to find and hunt your food.

These are just some of the things to keep in mind when you’re in a survival situation.  For suggestions, please send us an email or leave your comments below.

December 27, 2015

Advantages and Uses of Solar Power

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There are many advantages of solar power for emergency preparedness. Today, many people are installing solar panels for a reliable backup power solution. Some of the many advantages of using this technology include lower utility bills, resolving energy and fuel concerns, and allowing you to live a more self sufficient lifestyle. As they say, “there is a peace of mind knowing you and your family are more prepared for an emergency or disaster situation.”

Experts also suggest to be prepared at all times and to be more self sufficient by learning how to live off the land. As we all know, energy bills are increasing every day– this why many people are doing the best they can to save on utility bills.

According to recent reports, developers and manufacturers are working together to further improve and modify the features of emergency solar powered items including solar power battery chargers, emergency solar generators, and solar powered kits. The report also shows that more and more households are now utilizing these kits because they are efficient and convenient in generating the needed power from sunlight.

Summary of advantages of solar power:

  • Excellent emergency power solution – no fuel or electricity needed.
  • Decrease your dependence on conventional energy sources.
  • Once purchased – you save money and benefit from it for a long time.
  • Stored energy can be used at night or during unpleasant weather.
  • Portable solar chargers can be carried with you wherever you go.
  • Excellent alternative to those who want to save on electricity.
  • Government tax incentives and grants offered for many solar items.
  • Sunlight is renewable, free, and clean.

Solar panel can also be utilized for many various purposes and developers are consistently making improvements so that anyone can use this technology for their homes and businesses. And because of the vast technological advancement, there are more affordable options for those who want to install solar power to supply their energy needs.

Solar power kits

If you think you can’t generate power without sunlight, then you’re wrong. You can actually use solar power kits for this. This technology is not only designed to capture the sun’s energy, but also to store the energy as well. During sunny weather, energy from the sun is converted into electricity and the energy not consumed will be stored. The stored energy can then be used at night or during unpleasant weather.

 

December 24, 2015

How to Prevent House Fire

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You will never know when accidents may happen, but you can always be prepared with these unfortunate events, such as fire. Again, it’s not a question of luck. It’s all about planning ahead of time. So, to protect your home and your loved ones in case of house fire, here are some safety tips our team:

  • Equip your home with fire prevention tools

Having the right equipment like smoke alarms, sledge hammer, emergency staircase, and fire extinguisher is essential to every home. Make sure someone in your house knows how to use these tools.

  • Consider house inspection

Consider hiring a professional to inspect your home. This is to make sure the layout and design of your home is safe from different weather conditions and other man-made disasters. Check every fixture of the house including electrical wiring, gas pipelines, and ventilation. It is also advisable to set up fire exits or windows to your home.

  • Practice regular checking and safe use of household appliances

Simple house rules like checking the stove and power cords for your appliances can help promote safety around your home. As much as possible, always supervise your young children, especially in the kitchen area. When purchasing new or used appliances, like discount ice makers, make sure that they are from reliable dealers and are fully functioning without error before making the purchase.

  • Make an escape plan and reinforce fire drills

The problem with most people is they take fire drills for granted. Having the right system for your family in case of fire is important. Assign each family member with specific roles. Teach your children proper evacuation techniques. You should also establish different fire escape paths depending on the situation. Always stress to them to never panic and remember their roles. This is why fire drills are very important.

It’s not enough that you have fire prevention tools at home. You should also know when or how to use them. As mentioned above, planning ahead of time gives you more chance of survival in case disasters like these would happen.

 

December 24, 2015

4 Things you should Bring when going to a River Trip

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There’s no better way to kick off weekend than by taking a river trip with your family and friends. And no, I’m not just talking about the ordinary inner tube float on a splendid afternoon. I’m talking about taking everyone for a nice getaway in a boat! Imagine floating for days, where you can discover new terrain and hear white noise downstream. You can also listen to the current’s murmurs each night and cook dinner through a bonfire. Sounds like a good plan, right?

But before you, you need to know to what you should bring. So, to help you out, here’s a list of the stuff you should bring when going for a river trip.

  1. Map

Never rely on your smart phone—not only will the signal can get flaky, but your phone will also run out of batteries. Instead, bring a real map and compass with you. Rivers like the Colorado, Rogue, or Salmon all have their own river guides printed on waterproof paper. These maps also provide a dash of local history, natural history, and accurate river mileage. They will also show you some helpful information on how to shoot the fiercest rapids. In case they don’t give you a map, make sure to create one. Jot down some notes in the margins and use it as your guide as you go on to your river adventures.

  1. American Flag

Yup, nothing summons up the American “mythos” of a river trip quite like the old Stars and Stripes. You can check out for affordable items your local store. Try looking for handheld parade-wavers’ flag—the one that is stapled onto a thin wooden dowel.

  1. Fishing rod

This is one of the things you should not forget. Of course, the whole river trip won’t be complete without fishing! Nothing beats catching and cooking your own dinner! As they say, one rod per boat should suffice, and in the slackwater, you can push your luck catching the big fish! If the river deems fit, you and your group can surely find something for a feast!

  1. Binoculars

Put the binoculars in a secured and visible place—perhaps on top of the cooler? This is just to make sure you won’t forget it. It’s all fair game: the mys­tery bird singing in the trees, the day-moon ris­ing over the canyon wall, that bikini, or the hori­zon line down­stream froth­ing a cloud of mist. Binoc­u­lars are a must.

These are some of the things you should not forget when going to a river trip. I’m sure you have plenty to share, so please drop your comments below.

December 22, 2015

3 Common Mistakes you should Avoid when Going to a Kayak Adventure

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Sea kayaking is getting more and more popular these days. This sport has become one of the best weekend hobbies across the world. If you’re looking for a new adventure with your family and friends, this can be a good idea. Keep in mind though that this sport or hobby imposes a lot of risks. This is why you need to do a lot of research before trying it. In fact, even seasoned sea kayakers commit some mistakes when they’re on a trip.

Rang­ing from embar­rass­ing to seri­ously threat­en­ing, here are some mis­takes to avoid while camp­ing on wild coast­lines out of a small boat. Read on.

  1. Losing a boat

I remember not so long ago, we were on a trip to the west coast of San Diego, one moment I was sitting on a beach log eating breakfast. The next thing I know, I was running at a dead sprint because my kayak was floating away. Of course, I was able to retrieve it, but if I hadn’t, with a strong wind blowing parallel to the coastline, I’d probably been stranded on an island. I remember waking up at night and just realized that the tides were actually higher than we though and moved the boats again. Yes, these things can be embarrassing, but they can actually happen. So make sure to find the perfect spot for your boat and tie them up properly.

  1. Holey Kayak!

I’m sure every seasoned sea kayaker knows the importance of checking the condition of the boats before and during the trip. There is always a risk when playing on rugged shorelines. According to experts, plastic kayaks are more durable to loaded impact, but if you paddle a fibreglass kayak, it is advisable that you know how at least some of the basic repairs. I have experienced fixing my boats in several ways—not totally ideal, but sure it works.

  1. Lack of items?

Always check your stuff before the activity. I remember, I lost a paddle and forgot to bring spares. Just like almost losing your boat, it’s a common mistake or carelessness, but completely avoidable. As a result, my cousins and I ended up paddling two doubles with bow paddlers using halves of a break-down kayak paddle like canoe paddles. Yes, I didn’t know how we lost those paddles, but needless to say, it is always better to bring a spare.

These are some of the things to keep in mind when going to a kayak adventure. Stay tuned for more safety tips!

 

December 22, 2015

Wilderness Survival Tips

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Oftentimes, we forget how easy and convenient everything is for us in our modern world. Beyond our crazy and hectic schedule in this fast-paced world, we usually take things for granted. The “little” things like having a purified bottle of water when we are thirsty or the push of a button to light a fire. But let us remember that we can’t have these things all the time. Yes, it can all be gone in the blink of an eye. What if the unexpected happens—like you get in an accident or you get lost? It’s just you and the wilderness with no ties to civilization. How can you survive?

I recently took a hunting trip that has been a lifelong dream of mine. I have always wanted to take an exotic animals hunting trip but living in Texas that can be a challenge. Then I found a Texas Exotic Hunt not far and was able to fulfill that dream! It was an incredible experience! While we had a nice lodge and all of the necessities, it did make you think about what it would have been like before all these modern conveniences. What if it was just you and the wilderness, fighting for survival? Could I survive? Am I prepared to depend on myself and my skills as a hunter?

In this post, we will provide some of the basic survival tips to get you prepared—just in case. Read on.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

Before you set off for the next trip, make sure to inform someone where and when you’re going. If you can leave a copy of your itinerary, please do so. You’ll never know when accidents will strike. You may end up getting stranded unexpectedly. So tell your family and friends about your plans so they can call the authorities in case you don’t return on time.

KEEP YOUR HEAD UP

Whatever happens, just keep your composure. Keep calm and always think positive. At times like this, optimisms can go a long way; and in a survival situation, everything starts with you—your attitude and how you handle the current situation. Whatever you are facing never let emotions get in the way. First, you need to keep a realistic outlook so you can start a plan to keep you yourself in the best possible physical and mental state. In case, nothing is working out, like building a shelter or making a fire, don’t rush it. This can only lead to panic and anxiety. Have a break and take deep breath. Think about what you need and how you can get or build them. Observe your surroundings and organize a new plan.

TAKE INVEN­TORY

Check everything you have, because the next step can go south. Keep in mind that whatever you’ve got can be your most prized possessions and could save your life. Do not underestimate the value of even the oldest books or knick knacks you have. Someone even used his shoe lace to make a nifty bow and arrow for survival!

These are some of the things you should keep in mind when you’re out there. Again, keep your head up and always stay calm!

December 17, 2015

Safety Tips for Hikers

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Many hikers get into trouble for one particular reason—they usually go unprepared! According to reports, nine out of ten hikers who were rescued in the trail could have been prevented the injuries and casualties with just a little bit of pre-planning and preparation. To help you out, here are some of the pre-planning tips when hiking. Read on.

Leave a detailed plan with a family member or a friend

The first thing you need to do is to make a detailed plan with a family member or a friend. Let the person know when you’re going and when you expect to return home. By doing so, someone can respond immediately in case your group failed to return home at the agreed upon time. They can notify the local search authorities and rescue team.

Leave a detailed trail plan in your vehicle

The first most common place where the search and rescue team may check is the vehicle you left at the trailhead. Generally, concerned residents and other hikers will report a vehicle that has been left for a long period of time. Leaving an extra cop of your plan in the vehicle is a good idea so the rescue teams would know exactly where they should be looking and who they are looking for.

The plan should always include the following:

  1. Number of participants
  2. Departure date and time
  3. Expected return date and time
  4. Starting point
  5. Destination
  6. Travel route
  7. Alternative plans
  8. Communication gears including contact numbers or frequencies your group is using
  9. Medical conditions you have

 

Study your trail

Before going to your destination, make sure to do your research about the trail. You should have an idea on how it looks like so you can plan thoroughly on your next hike. Keep in mind that most trails are rated, and can be found by simply searching online. Read reviews and join forums to learn more about the specific areas and to know what to expect.

Dress for success

Again, you’re going to hike not attend a ball or a fashion show. Never underestimate the value of proper clothing. Choose the most comfortable outfit for your next adventure. You should also consider the environment and weather conditions. In a survival situation the clothes on your back, combines with what you bring in the trail will be your main source of shelter and protection. This means you need to double check everything you bring and make sure all the items you bring are functional.

These are some of the things you should consider when going to a hike. Again, do your research or ask seasoned hikers for more tips and suggestions.