Archive for May, 2009

Survive in the wilderness by making a homemade water purifier can be made using charcoal, sand, leaves and grass. Learn to purify water in the wilderness using tips from an experienced outdoorsman in this free video about wilderness survival skills.

Expert: kevin Barrett
Bio: Kevin Barrett is an experienced outdoors man who has been honing his survival skills for many years.
Filmmaker: Nili Nathan

Duration : 0:1:32

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Wilderness survival includes recognizing the symptoms of dehydration. Recognize dehydration symptoms including sunken eyes, dry tongue and loss of skin elasticity with tips from an experienced outdoorsman in this free video about wilderness survival skills.

Expert: kevin Barrett
Bio: Kevin Barrett is an experienced outdoors man who has been honing his survival skills for many years.
Filmmaker: Nili Nathan

Duration : 0:1:7

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Filed Under (Backpacking, Camping, Hiking) by admin on 17-05-2009

Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that is acquired by getting bitten by a tick.  Deer ticks are the most common carriers of the disease.  As outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy being on the trail in the woods you  must take precautions because that is where you will find the little critters and that’s where they find you! 

Lyme disease is a non-contagious infection that can become a serious health problem.  The deer tick carries a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorfer that gets transmitted to humans through the skin when the tick latches on to suck blood.  They are like little hitchhikers hanging on the ends of grasses and tall weeds just waiting for a host to pass by so they can hitch a ride and get a free meal.  You or your dog become the meal or any warm blooded creature that happens to be passing by such as mice, birds or deer.  

The first key to prevention is awareness.  Always be aware that ticks are out there and that you need to do a tick check on yourself after you’ve been in the woods.  To prevent ticks from being carried into your home, it is also important to thoroughly check your dog after a walk in the woods as they are much lower to the ground and tend to pick up many more ticks.  Before heading out it is a good idea to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts  and a hat to help deter the little buggers.  They are looking for warm skin so clothing will be a deterrent but is no guarantee, hence the need to still do a body and hair check. Spraying some insect repellent that contains deet on your clothing will also help.

Most infections are caused by ticks in the nymph stage as larger, older ticks are more easily seen and removed. The host will often not even feel the bite as the secretions do not cause any pain or itching as most insect bites do.  There are some symptoms to be aware of in the event that you did get bitten but did not know.  The classic rash that looks like a red bull’s-eye ring around what might look like a mosquito bite or other insect bite.  In addition to the rash you might not be feeling so well and experiencing some joint pain or fever.  Some people have serious reactions to tick bites and the swelling and pain will be obvious and can be accompanied by aching muscles as well. 

It is important that you seek medical attention and get a proper diagnosis because if it is indeed lyme disease you will need to be treated with antobiotics.  If left untreated you will experience more serious problems often leading to paralysis, neuroligical and cardiac problems.

Playing in the outdoors, hiking, camping and backpacking, requires some preparation, awareness and knowledge in order to stay safe.  Little tiny things such as deer ticks have the power to ruin your life so take precautions and “Be Prepared !”

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when i was 4 yrs old my parents found a tick in my head half way under my scalp, but i never got lyme disease, how come? can a reg blood test tell you if you have it or not? or is their a special test you have to take to know if you are infected with the disease?

Not all ticks carry Lyme. That being said, there are many cases where people were bit by ticks and didn’t fall ill until years later. It appears that sometimes the bacteria can go “underground”–perhaps held at bay by your immune system–only to burst forth much later.

Are you experiencing symptoms now that seem like they could be Lyme-related? If so, it’s worth educating yourself about the disease.

Good sources of info about Lyme disease:

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Filed Under (Camping) by admin on 13-05-2009

Nothing ruins your camping trip like a brush with poison ivy, a pesky bee sting or other minor injury. Unfortunately, there�s no way to guarantee you won�t encounter any of these inconveniences, but you can be prepared to deal with them. Read on for more advice on packing …
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On a recent Cub Scout campout (Webelos Weekend), the boys went around to various learning stations such as fire building, nature, fishing, archery, BB Gun shooting and cooking.  At the cooking station they were taught how to make a simple campfire dessert using bananas.  The campfire should be at the hot embers stage and not in full flame. 

The recipe is below:

 Needed:  1 sheet of aluminum foil

                1 banana

                 2 Tablespoons of Chocolate Morsels

                 2 Tablespoons of Mini Marshmallows


 Slice the banana through the skin lengthwise (leave the banana peel on).  Put chocolate and marshmallows into the center of the banana.  Wrap banana (that is still in its peel) in a piece of aluminum foil to cover it and then toss it into the coals for about 10-12 minutes to cook until candy melts.  Allow it to cool.   It will be oohey and gooey.  Eat with a spoon.  Enjoy !


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Filed Under (Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Wilderness Trekkers) by admin on 10-05-2009

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Backpacker Gear Awards 09

In this video and article I demonstrate a technique for building a fire structure that will burn continuously and does not require ANY managing. This is a great method to know if you need the heat from a fire while you are sleeping, but do not want to wake up repeatedly during the night to add more wood.

Duration : 0:9:51

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My last Q about this was horribly written. What I am asking is why do some folks think that they are born to survive in a wilderness? Even Native Americans aren’t born with the skills of their ancestors. Yet I have met quite a few people of all races who think they just know it all, about how nature works and how to survive in it. This has scared me for them many times, like a young man who wants to “live off the land” in a remote area, who will not listen to experienced advice, nor seek such advice. How do you get it across to them that having a gun and knife doesn’t make you an instant wilderness survivalist? Here is an example of what I am asking about; People are getting killed in remote places, from the deserts of the south west, the woods and swamps in the Deep South, through the Rockies and the rest of North America, from inexperience, lack of outdoor skills and lack of proper equipment. How can we get across to such people to save their lives? Our Government spends millions warning us about everything from cigarettes to cosmetics, but not that the outdoors can kill you. Don’t you think this should be taught in every classroom in America? Do you have any idea how to save some of these lives? Another example; METRO.. you have an excellent point. However I live where these kinds of people visit; remote Alaska, and every year we have people die here. I used to help search and rescue some years ago look for such people. And I have helped recover what was left of them IF we found them. I found a family of 5 and a big dog, in a small inflatable raft 8 miles from shore, with no life jackets. It took me a ½ hour to convince the moron dad that their lives were in peril. He had no clue, but the Coast Guard gave him a few after I called them! Stupid people or not that was lives saved. shimmitail1 to answer your Q’s in your answer; yes I can. The wife and I have homesteaded while we raised many kids. Today we grow our own food, catch our own fish, hunt for our meat and are 80% self sufficient. I have about a half century of farming, hunting, fishing and food preservation experience. At the moment I am training a 26 year old man and his wife wilderness survival skills, here in Alaska. Folks I appreciate your answers. But despite the morons out there, I believe many are just uninformed. In the city there are signs that warn you; “watch your step”, “wait for light”, “sharp turn ahead” etc, there are none in nature. So unless people are taught; they just don’t know. Therefore I think we as hunters should make an effort to teach. Donate some time to speak at schools and teach kids the basics. Lets share our knowledge, maybe it will save a life.
Some people are just idiots, straight up. I am Native American and I lived in Alaska for about 7 years, but there’s no way in hell I would go and try to survive out in the wilderness unless I knew EXACTLY what I was doing. Many people just do stuff like this to prove something to themselves or others. That Alexander Supertramp (Chris) guy was just a dumb rich kid who should have thought things through. My sister lives in Fairbanks and she thinks he’s a huge dumbass for what he did. To the locals out there, he is a joke. You can’t stop people from being stupid, but you CAN inform them and try to help them see the light.

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Filed Under (Backpacking, Hiking) by admin on 09-05-2009

During one of our Cub Scout den meetings last year we did a little experiment in order to teach our Cub Scouts some basics about hiking before they moved on to Boy Scouts.  The boys were told to bring in ten of the most important things they believed they must have in their backpack to take on a day hike.   They had some interesting items to talk about.  They had things like full size umbrellas, lots of extra clothes, a football,  heavy canned goods (no can opener, though), electronic games, cans of soda, candy snacks, etc.  Even at the age of 10 or 11 they had the right idea that they would need protection from the rain or cold and some food to eat. 


We continued the lesson with teaching them about the ten essentials every hiker should have in their backpack by showing them a couple of properly filled packs and explaining the use of each item and why it might be needed.  Each scout was given a list and had a chance to repack an empty backpack using the list and getting familiar with the items.  They enjoyed the activity and definitely learned a lot during that meeting.  Many of the boys had ‘aha moments’ and got it.  Children are fast learners when it comes to danger or fear.  They want to know.  They need to know.  They like to feel that they are in control.  Explaining that the ten essentials could possibly save your life or help you survive a night alone in the woods was enough incentive to teach the lesson.  Of course the lesson was to ‘be prepared’, which is the Boy Scout Motto. 


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Because not everyone was a scout in their youth, there are many people who enjoy hiking but end up learning the hard way how to be prepared for a hike out in the woods.  It is usually by trial and error and getting stuck in a situation where they needed help.  Maybe they sprained an ankle and had no first aid knowledge or supplies.  They may have been caught in a storm that popped up out of nowhere and had no rain gear or knowledge about making a temporary shelter or even just an extra jacket to stay warm – hypothermia can be deadly.  Or maybe they were deep into the trail on a very hot day and ran out of water and did not know how to find a water source because they did not plan ahead – dehydration can also be very serious.  Or the worst case scenario is always getting lost for a day or more and trying to survive without water, matches, warm clothing or the knowledge to handle any of it.  What is intended to be a pleasant day on the trail can indeed turn out to be a life threatening situation if things go wrong and you are not prepared.  Having knowledge as well as the ten essentials (and a bit more) is the key to a lifetime of safe happy trails.  


We’ve all been caught unprepared in all kinds of life situations.  That is how we learn best.  To be a safe, happy hiker it is wise to learn about the ‘ten essentials’.  It is a checklist that has been around for a long time and has not changed much over the years until recently when a few modifications have been made for the modern hiker.  The basic ten is still relevant though.  The checklist is offered below.  You may even have your own modifications to the list.  It definitely comes down to personal choice but what you choose makes the difference.  For example, if you are on any special medications or inhalers you don’t want to forget that or if your canine companion is along for the hike you will need supplies for him such as food, water, waste pick-up bags, etc.


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Just having these in your pack is not enough – you must know how to use them.  Take the time to attend an outdoor class that many outdoor outfitters and sporting goods stores offer.  Join a local outdoor club and start hiking with a group to get yourself accustomed to what is involved or start reading on the internet as you are doing now.  YouTube is full of helpful videos on all aspects of hiking – how to build a fire, how to sterilize water, how to build a shelter, survival techniques, etc.  These video tutorials can be very helpful if you have no experience at all and having a visual video lesson increases your chances of remembering what to do if you are panicking.   Experience is of course the best teacher and you will be a hiking pro before you know it. 


The Classic Ten Essentials List:


  • Fire Starter
  • Map & Compass
  • Water
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Pocket Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Food
  • Extra Clothing
  • Rain Gear
  • Sun Protection


That is the basic version of ‘the list’. That simple list in its most basic form can and will save your life in an emergency situation but it’s really not that simple.  Each of these items requires more thought and understanding to really be an effective tool in your backpack arsenal.


For that I am going to refer you to the experts by giving you a link to the REI website below.  You will find more detail on each of the items above. You will also note that REI has revised the list slightly and updated what they believe is best practice.  You can’t argue with professionals!  Here is that link but come back to read the rest of this blog because I have a few things to add to your backpack that you might need or want!


 REI: Updated Ten Essential “Systems”


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In my hiking and camping experience there are a few “essentials” that I don’t leave home without.  All are lightweight and just make life on the trail a bit more tolerable when the going gets rough.  Here is a list of what I call “Supplemental Essentials” and I don’t take everything on every hike but rather decide as I pack for a particular trip whether I’ll need it or not. 


“Supplemental Essentials”


Cell Phone  for emergency and doubles as a camera

Insect Repellant should be in the top ten!

Duct tape:  wrapped around your water bottle, flashlight or hiking staff – the stuff belongs on the top ten list because it is so versatile and helpful in so many ways.

Whistle: In case you get lost a whistle will last much longer than you screaming your lungs out!

Toilet Paper: (Not a whole roll but a bit in a Ziploc for when nature calls)

Bandana (Many uses: a cool cloth when wet, a splint, a head covering, a signal flag on a stick,)


Baby Wipes in a Ziploc (just a few for refreshing your smelly, dusty self when needed)

Mini binoculars – for bird watching or can be useful if lost in the woods

Flavor Packets for water- just to spice up the beverage department (tea, lemonade or cool aid)

Hiking staff or trekking pole – depending on your age, ability and the terrain – this can be a real knee-saver

Warm hat (in cold weather) – just toss it in – you’ll be happy you did

Hand Sanitizer

Camera & Batteries (Keep both in plastic bags to protect from rain)

A Trash Bag (can become rain gear or a shelter or actually used to carry out your trash)

Emergency Space Blanket (very tiny – just ounces but useful if stranded/lost)

Extra Socks – refresh those tired, hot, sweaty feet

Field Guide – definitely not required but useful to some folks

Journal & Pen – to record the experience



Remember when hiking in a group –some of the items on the ten essentials list as well as the supplemental essentials list can be distributed among the group to reduce weight and duplication.   When planning your trip, it is all a personal decision that needs to be balanced against weather conditions, location, personal experience and skill as a hiker and how much weight you really want to carry.  When sticking with the top ten essentials you will never go wrong and throwing in a few extra items can’t hurt and just might come in handy. 

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