Category Archives: Survival Tips

Trudging Through Sludge

At times, life seems to reminisce, especially when I get into the more difficult situations. The correlation to my life at this moment is akin to running the mudflats chasing carp. When I was buried knee deep at times, and friends around me as well. That silted ditch filled with wet sediment grabs onto you all the way to your knees. The struggle to free yourself pulls bones from their sockets as motions become more frantic. You are locked in and in pain. Tired from overexertion, exhausted. I could have given up. I could have let go to be consumed by coyotes and vultures, no one would know or look for me there. I’d just be a dead guy in the mud. That is not the human spirit though. The human spirit wants to live. To catch more fish, despite dangers. The escape, in the moment of panic always seems impossible. It isn’t until you assess your situation that you find clarity.

Slow. Down.

Slow down and look at your life, assess your situation, turn off the panic switch. Things will happen and you will feel it as it begins to release you, it feels great. There is still more mud ahead, but there are fish to catch. You’ll laugh about it later.


Lesson #12: Don’t Die!

Lately the lessons for the posts have been slacking. Today the post will be dedicated to the lesson. This could be the most important lesson to consider during your trips to the mountains. In fact, you might use this lesson on a day to day basis in normal life (ie: non fishing days). You may even feel that you should share this bootlegged secret in the dark corners of a speakeasy. Share this information at your own discretion. In fact, you may be wondering at this very moment where I, myself came across this highly confidential and curious lesson. This is that story.

The sun was still lofted high in the sky, like some great creature pierced the veil of our big blue atmosphere. Peering in through the peep hole into our world the giant could see the melting snow and fresh new grass trammeled over by a few sets of wandering feet. The world was happy, not the grass so much, but in general. Birds sang new tunes with little musical notes spewing from their beaks, lullabyes to the bears to sleep the day off. The trees could have been dancing and somewhere in the forest, bigfoot could have been baking an apple pie. All was right in the world as two wayward fisherman made their way up the mountain.

Ascending to well over 11,000 feet in elevation was easy when it is fueled by the anticipation of catching wild trout (at least as wild as brook trout come). The trail was more of  a creek ready to wade through, rather than solid ground that is easy on the feet. The quality of the trail made a difficult ascent. Scratch that, a better phrase would be falling up. The happy world pointed the direction with a few precariously placed and super swinging signs. Two fisherman stumbled, as happily as one can stumble, onto a lake that dreams are made of. Accented by the contrast of blue sky, green trees, gray alpine mountaintops, and soft snow, each thing added to the next. The giant artist’s brush strokes were filled with intent.

Then, with all the help of positive and negative charges, the sky blackened. Fury could not remotely describe what was about to happen. The trees went back to being trees. Bigfoot decided to give the apple pie a rest until another sunny day. The bears of the sky were awakened. The two fisherman were in the line of fire. 60 vertical feet marked the alpine. 60 feet of error. 60 feet away from lightning. Finding a place to wait it out in the trees could have been a good idea, if it didn’t start to hail. A hurried resting place still made for wet and slightly painful spot to reside. The lightning struck everywhere, some futuristic weapon firing upon its enemies from the sky, fighting a war against electrical conduits to ground. It turned sand into crystal and humans to potential ash. Beneath the canopy of trees being beaten down by hail and the potential fear of a lightning strike, the two fisherman waited.

The storm had passed and the two fisherman emerged from the sanctuary feeling as though they had cheated death, cheated the wrath of the clouds. Then, it was time to fish.

It is always good to have an indian guide for when you lose the trail. Sometimes better than GPS.

At first the take was slow, but quickly picked up. The fish were small but aggressive and would only eat “chewy” the aptly named woolly bugger.

On the way down, they only fell on the slippery surfaces a few times and spoke of the day that they just had, the adventure. It is always pure adventure when your life is at risk, makes you think about the ordinary things in a different light. This was one of those ordinary days where we learned, “Don’t Die”.




Survival 101: Water

I’ve been trying to find a way to squeeze in some survival tactics into the blog, and haven’t had a chance. After chasing around stockers and small browns, I figure this week was a good time.

I never thought the subject of water was controversial. Until now. Allow me to begin this with a…

Disclaimer: I am not a physician, nor do I claim to be one. Medical science is a silly matter. Because of this, I must portray both sides and take no responsibility for actions the reader may take after reading this article. If you have a question of concern, CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR!

This is a general overview. I will probably have another post in the future on how to properly clean water and different ways to do so. That will more than likely contain a better list of water contaminants and ways to destroy them.

Easy stuff first. Water quality. There are a ton of hurtful things in groundwater, mostly coliforms and giardia lamblia, with some parasites and fungus tossed in there. For a full list of things (which I do not really consider complete but sufficient) look here. One very common problem in a wilderness setting is Giardiasis. It affects approximately 2,000,000 people per year in the United States (estimated). For the sake of this post and the reader, I’m going to attempt to keep the “nerdery” to a minimum.

The cause of Beaver Fever

Giardia lamblia is a tank. It is transfered through animal waste, including humans (I hope you aren’t drinking coffee right about now and if you are, I’m sorry). Beavers, in the case of the wilderness, are the main source of transfer so take extreme caution against it where you know there are beavers. Also, take that same precaution in places where you aren’t sure. It only takes around 5 of these little parasites to keep you running off into the woods to spread more of them. Giardiasis (infection of Giardia lamblia) is dangerous in a few ways, in most cases it isn’t deadly unless (as with all intestinal issues) you are immunocompromised. It has the ability to resist chlorine. Most purification tablets use chlorine to kill bacteria and it is a good idea to always check your labels. They usually mention what they do not do, and more often mention that they are for emergency use only. There are 2 ways to destroy the parasite, boiling or filtering. Quite frankly, boiling unfiltered water doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  Remember, if you are at higher elevations, water needs to boil longer or under pressure to effectively kill what it needs to kill.

Cute and cuddly or armed and dangerous?

The real danger of Giardiasis does not come from the parasite, rather your body’s reaction to it. (put down your coffee) It causes you to have diarrhea, which makes you dehydrated and leads us to our controversial subject, hydration (resume coffee). There is a rule of 8×8. drinking 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water per day, totaling 64 ounces. There is also a simple equation to follow which is half of your body weight in ounces, for example, I weigh 165 pounds, 165x.5=82.5 ounces per day. Some say 3 liters (101.4 ounces) for men, 2.2 liters (74.4 ounces) for women. As far as I have read, none of these account for the amount of water you get from food, which is about 20%. Some people drink more water than others and each person is different, therefore kidney function is also different. My advice to you to find out how much water you should drink is to actually log the amount of water you drink on a normal day and add 30% for a camping trip. The problem here comes down to dehydration and over-hydration. Articles on the subject make it seem like you will die instantly if you drink too much, or you will die instantly if you do not drink enough. These can’t be further from the truth. Hypovolemia is low blood pressure due to low blood volume and sits on the extreme side of dehydration, it takes approximately 2 days with no water to set in (shorter time if you have an open wound). Hyponatremia is the loss of sodium and other electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, etc…) from the cells. Without that protection on the cell, your cells (especially brain cells) swell causing high blood pressure and when this is tied into brain cells, you can have a stroke or other brain issues. In order for this to happen, you must have too much water for your kidneys to process, around a gallon per hour for a couple hours. This is also known as water intoxication. Giadriasis can cause either of these. If you have (coffee down) vomiting tied in with diarrhea (continue coffee), you become dehydrated and electrolytes are low. If you overcompensate with too much water, it is possible to give yourself hyponatremia.

In this case, relativity does fit.

If you are out in the back country, it is a good idea to calculate the amount of water you will need for the trip. I’ll use myself as an example here 165(weight)x.5=82.5 oz Then 20% from food 82.5x.8=66 When you plan to hike into high elevations you will notice that you urinate more often. Yes, it is triggered by high elevation. There is nothing wrong with you. You also breathe at a faster rate, thus losing a bit more water through the lungs and just standing in the New Mexico sun can wear you down. Plus you are working your body harder than normal. So, add around 30% to compensate. 66x.3=19.8 19.8+66=85.8 ounces; That should be your total water input per day of hiking. How much water would you need for a trip? I would need to pack 2 gallons of water for a 3 day trip. 3(days)x85.8(oz per day)/128(oz in a gallon)=2.01 Drink when you are thirsty and don’t overdo it. Instead of slamming down water, drink it slowly through the course of a day. Nuts, dried bananas, and other assorted dried fruits are great to have to keep your electrolytes up, they play a key role in hydration. Keep an eye out on your urine, if it is slightly yellow or clear, you are good. If it is darker or very odorous, drink a bit more water. Always keep a sports drink or Pedialyte in the case of Giardiasis. If you do catch a case of the beaver fever, go home. Aren’t you glad I didn’t explain electrolyte transfer?

If you have any kidney issues, heart problems that have you on a low sodium diet, AIDS, or any other medical issue involving a prescription medication, talk to a doctor before long trips into the wild.

  Lesson #6: The better your food and water, the better your trip. Everyone is different, maybe leave the liver and onions at home this time.

This is a Tasty Burger!

Nothing says yummy like Samuel L. Jackson. My trip has been delayed yet again, my budget forgot to include a fishing license, so I have to drive 200 less miles to Fenton lake. Before I go though, I thought I would include a life adventure that happened last night. My friend Alex, his wife Casey, and I decided to have a little BBQ. During the summer, this happens at least once a week. It’s quite fun and also hones the skills of cooking and gives me ideas of ways to cook things in the wild.

This particular evening we were making burgers. When I say we, I mean Casey was making fries (which should be world famous), Alex was cutting cheese (in both ways), while I cooked the burgers. Well, Alex had an incident while cutting the cheese (the actual cheese) and sliced his thumb wide open. You can tell the measure of a man by the pain that they receive and their reaction to it. Did they faint, freak out, or remain calm? Not only did Alex remain calm, but after his first aid kit was retrieved by his wife, he began to self-administer the most sterile and well planned first aid that I have ever seen. I really wish that I had the video camera, he could’ve made an excellent training video.

Is it really a good idea to drink and bleed?

After about 30 minutes in bandages, we removed them and the wound was still bleeding. It was under my suggestion and supervision that we superglue the wound together. So, I rummaged through my first aid kit Fly-Tying kit to save the life of a friend. I figure if he loses his thumb, it is totally my fault.

Next up, the burgers. There are a few ways to make burgers. I’m usually a straight up burger guy, but here is a tip for your next burger adventure. What I did with these is folded salt, pepper, garlic, a touch of balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce. You can add whatever you like to this, but stick to enhancing the flavor of the burger rather than adding flavor to it.  Roughly 2 tbls of liquid to every 5 pounds of beef. Just fold it a couple of times as to not destroy the consistency of the meat, it will look a bit swirly. Next, throw them on the grill and prep a rub. For burgers, I like 7:3:1 ratio. 7 parts chili powder, 3 parts brown sugar, one part salt. The possibilities are endless for rubs as well, just sub in whatever dry ingredients you would like to add for any of the others. Example: 6:3:1:1 or 7:2:1:1, the last one being the combined total of all other dry spices. If it comes out too sweet, add more chili powder or paprika. When you apply this to the burger, remember that there is sugar involved, when sugar burns it does not taste so good. Add rub in the last couple of minutes of cooking to get the full effect. I throw on the buns and whatever I can to the grill as well. Be careful with any oil over an open fire like butter or bacon. Your perfectly heated and resting coals will become a raging unstable fire.

The rest of the night turned out very well and the burgers made me pretty euphoric and stuffed my insides. I had 2 half pounders and felt as though I was going to pop. If you are still concerned about Alex’s thumb, he’s ok.