Opinion: Outdoor tips for wilderness survival

Survival skills are a necessity in the great outdoors; they could be the difference between life and death. The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place. There is vast wilderness that can stretch as far as the eye can see. Trees, streams, rivers, lakes, hills and mountains litter this geographic locale and create an abundance of outdoor recreation.

Camping, hiking, climbing and many more activities can take a person into the wild. What happens if someone went too far into the wilderness and was unprepared? Without some basic knowledge they may be in a situation they could not survive.

Every year hikers go missing in Washington. Day hikers and avid backpackers can find themselves in unfavorable conditions and unfamiliar surroundings instantly. Four hikers were on the Pacific Crest trail near Mt. Adams in Washington late September 2013 during a storm, according to NBC Bay Area. Only three were found after days of enduring the cold and wet conditions. Unfortunately one of the hikers from Oregon has still not been found. The search for the Oregon man was called off on Oct. 6, according to Fox News.

A mushroom hunter from Auburn was found dead near Packwood in October and is suspected to have suffered from a dangerous fall into a ravine and hypothermia, according to the Associated Press. Preparing for every possible outcome is impossible, but preparing adequately could save a life.

Survival courses, first aid, map reading, and selecting proper gear can be vital to any outdoor enthusiast. The outdoor retail stores, REI and The Alpine Experience, offer schedules of different activities in the area and of workshops in their stores. SPSCC offers a beginner first aid class as an elective course. More extensive hands on training classes may be found online through professionals or at local fire departments through volunteer programs.

An emergency backpack should always be included on any hike. A simple checklist may contain water purification tablets, a small flashlight, extra batteries for the flashlight, a solar blanket, wool socks
and gloves, wool sweater, knife, a multi-tool, toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste, vitamin C, extra medication or medicine for allergies, matches, a whistle, a compass, a map, a first aid kit, flares, dried
or non-perishable and lightweight foods, and a canteen. There are more items a user may want to add for personal preference. More extensive lists can be found online using search engines with the keywords “emergency pack” or “bug out bag”.

A knife is one of the most important survival tools. Gerber makes reliable knives and multitools. Buck, K-Bar, Benchmade, Kershaw, Tops and Survive Knives also make professional, reliable products.

Always prepare for a specific trek and alert family and friends of when, where, and the duration. Never leave out crucial information or change plans without alerting someone reliable of trip changes.

The movie 127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle, displayed just the opposite. The main character did not tell anyone where he went for his canyoneering trip. He got stuck beneath a boulder for five days while mountain climbing. To survive, he cut his arm off.