Category Archives: Hiking

Dangers of Drinking Non-Potable Water

IMG_5573

While the focus is on us as humans, don’t forget your trail buddy or gun dog can be impacted as well so don’t let them drink from streams. Dogs effected by Giardia will suffer, not perform as well as they should, and can run up a pretty high vet bill getting rid of tummy issues associated with water.

In 1989 I was out on an extended hike/ survival skills test with my friend and mentor Gary. We had both run out of water and it was a rare heat wave in Germany. We sat up a temporary sit-spot by the Kyll River, which is a tributary of the Moselle. We were close to the head waters of it, but you first need to understand what flows into the Kyll.

Germany has a vast amount of space in the Rhineland-Pfalz area dedicated to dairy farming. Every morning cattle leave their stables and walk to the fields where they graze. These fields drain into the river.It not only contains the output of the cattle, but in the late fall and early spring the fields are furtilized. Cow excrement from the stables is collected into a vat, pumped into a “honey wagon” and then towed to the field by a tractor and sprayed onto the fields.

At this point you have probably realized that one of us decided to bypass the pufification part of this little adventure and I can guarantee, it wasn’t me. Gary learned two important lessons that day, the first to always purify water and the second is the value of the extra TP I packed.

In a survival situation things already suck, so don’t make them worse. By drinking non-potable water (water unsafe for drinking) you may contract diseases or swallow organisms that can harm you. Examples of such diseases or organisms include but are not limited to:

Dysentery- Severe, prolonged diarrhea with bloody stools, fever, and weakness.

Cholera and Typhoid- You may be susceptible to these diseases regardless of inoculations.

Flukes- Not a huge issue in Idaho survival situations. Stagnant, polluted water–especially in tropical areas–often contains blood flukes. If you swallow flukes, they will bore into the bloodstream, live as parasites, and cause disease.

Leeches- If you swallow a leech, it can hook onto the throat passage or inside the nose. It will suck blood, create a wound, and move to another area. Each bleeding wound may become infected. This just has suck (no pun intended) all around it.

Giardia- A common threat in the back country, Giardia lives inside intestines of infected humans, cattle, sheep, or other animals (wild or domestic). Individuals become infected through ingesting or coming into contact with contaminated food, soil, or water. This means that washing dishes in the creek or dipping your canteen in a pond can put you at risk if you don’t sanitize all surfaces that come in contact.

Cryptosporidium- You don’t just have to ingest water, but swimming in water that is contaminated is also dangerous. This is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as “Crypto.”

The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very tolerant to chlorine disinfection.

While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common method of transmission. Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.

Drinking unsafe water can make your survival situation worse and once rescued can prolong recovery and in some cases cause long-term effects and possibly death.

That’s It

that's itI have been in the process of breaking a 35-year habit. Snickers has been a staple in my diet since before I was in the military. It was my go to bar after running track. It was my recovery bar after 5k and 10k runs. It was my post PT bar as I showered in the barracks before formation. I took them hunting and hiking with me. During the three “Hotter n’ Hell 100” bike rides I did between 2002 and 2004. I used them as breakfast before pushing my mountain bike 100 miles across Texas in 100-plus degree temps. Up until last month you could find me in most meetings with a Snickers and Coke in my hand. My bad habit had grown to almost six sodas per day and one to three Snickers per day. It had also grown my LB’s to a unhealthy 204.

It was after my doctor told me I needed to cut way back on sugar and fats and increase my fiber and fruit I made a change. It wasn’t a suggestion, he in fact said that if I wanted to see my daughter graduate high school I needed to make changes right now. So I went cold turkey. I immediately cut out all sodas and candy bars. Gone were my morning doughnuts and caramel lattes. Taco Bell, Johnny’s Pizza, and Jack in the Box Tacos died a quiet death for me. But still I needed to find a snack to get me through and sitting down to watch TV with an apple or grabbing a bowl of celery just hasn’t appealed to me yet as a full time replacement.

Our cafeteria at work has recently begun to stock better options for treats. This includes fruit and nut snacks. I have fallen in love with “That’s It”  fruit bars. They remind me of when I used to make fruit roll-ups with my dehydrator for a backpacking snack 25 years ago. “Treats” is a good description since they are loaded in sugars and carbs, but also have fiber.

The bars taste great and I order mine here. The only ingredients they include are fruits. The recipe is simple, FRUIT + FRUIT = THAT’S IT. They are gluten free, each runs 100 to 110 calories, all natural with no preservatives and high in fiber, which for me means I can have the sugar as a treat.

I understand its a healthier option for me and realize I can’t eat two or three of these a day. Looking back at how I used to abuse candy bars and sodas this is an option I can live with without sacrificing simple pleasures every now and then. They come in several great flavors to keep my pallet interested. We are now carrying them in our Amazon store and when you purchase them they are a little cheaper than what I have been seeing at our cafeteria, plus you help support Adventure IQ’s free workshops, camps, and seminars.

Introvert or Extrovert

First…not a big Myers-Briggs fan…hard to take a few billion people on the planet and put them into 16 classifications. But some would say I am an introvert.

Really?

The world often sees us as loners. Off in the wild on by ourselves. Hermits.

I admit, I need time alone to recharge, but I love showing people the ropes in this lifestyle. I also teach corp adults in my day gig…making contact with 50-200 people per day…so on the weekends…I often like to get to myself.

Growing up I did what we now call bushcraft. I was scrawny, too small (but still loved) to play football. I lived in an area far from other kids, or at least other kids that weren’t getting into serious trouble. I had a small patch of undeveloped land that was my safe haven. Away from bully’s, teachers, etc. I didn’t have access to a Boy Scout troop so I took myself through most of the outdoor skills and then worked my way through some military survival manuals.

Later in life, I look back and see this as a pattern. I break away but don’t disconnect from others. I find my recharge time is in a hammock with basic gear. Even on business travel, I pack a small kit and find a place to camp or at least practice my skills (you draw crowds in Taipei, Shenzen, and Seoul when experimenting with fire steel and local tinder).

The woods are often my retreat. Going through divorce, issues at work, when tough decision have to be made. This is where I go to just exist. Its where I reming myself that I don’t need allot of stuff to be happy. 10-12 items in a pack, a meal, and a nice fire is all that is required to be happy.

I now have an opportunity to provide a path for people just like me. People who are broken. People who fight addiction or co-dependancy. People who fight depression. People who have no idea why they exist.

Being alone doesn’t mean I am a loner nor anti-social. Quiet doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice. Being alone says that I have a place where I am confident and I can rely on myself.

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

Bannock Bread

Nate is very happy about Bannock!

Nate is very happy about Bannock!

In our FireCraft class we teach this to fulfill the requirement of cooking over open flame. Bannock is a great mix that you can take to the woods and it will last several days before you need to actually bake it. I even carry it with us on our overland trips to make a quick staple to go along with the meals we cook on the back of the Jeep. When traveling you need to maintain a balanced diet and Bannock helps us maintain the need for grains.

Baking Bannock is easy once you have done a few loaves.  At first you are going to “blacken” a few loaves and leave the inside runny or gooey.  It only takes a few runs and you’ll have it down. I keep a small cast iron skillet in my bush pack for making bannock. Yes, its extra weight, but I don’t mind since I’m usually setting up a hunting or fishing camp for several days in the back country.

A baggie makes it easy to mix and then place on a warm skillet

A baggie makes it easy to mix and then place on a warm skillet

.Here is the recipe we teach in class. We place this in a zipper baggie until we are ready to use it, then simply add water (varies) and mix. Once mixed we cut a corner on the baggie and squeeze it out and on to the skillet. Come out to one of our FireCraft classes and we’ll get you on the right path to making Bannock. The finished product should look like a pancake. You can add sugar and cinnamon to the mix for a different flavor.

What you need:

  • 1 zipper bag
  • 1 cup flour (substitutes can be made for those who cannot tolerate flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
    1 tbsp. shortening

We can make the mix before we leave on a pack trip or even pick up materials while out on the road. I can make up a two-week supply and throw into individual zipper bags to last me on a two-week trip. I learned pretty quick that sifting the dry ingredients is an important step to not forget. If you don’t follow this, the cake gets pretty uneven and / or won’t rise. Also, keeping your skillets is essential for successful loaves. Olive oil works well for this.

It takes a few batches to perfect you Bannock cake

It takes a few batches to perfect you Bannock cake

.

Seven Spices for the Road

One thing I learned as my time as a grunt–EAT WELL.

I have to laugh when modern-day explorers or weekend recreationist complain about the lack of variety in food. Stud, when I deployed out- we only had 12 choices of meals for an entire deployment. If you could see me squeezing my thumb and index finger together, you might mistake it for the world’s smallest violin…actually its 10,000 lbs of compressed give-a-crap.

This last week I was sorting through old…really old stuff as I was reorganizing the garage. I found my collection of spices in a 30-round magazine pouch. Each spice neatly packed in what we now know to be highly hazardous 35mm film canister. When its MRE’s, box-nasties, or the odd K-Ration, a guy has got to add something to make things in best case different–in worse case…palatable.

Inside the ammo pouch I found the following spices I threw in my ruck and still use for the backcountry-

Tabasco

OK- not a spice, but a main ingredient for all grunts. It can make the most rancid field ration go down good. Perfect for powdered eggs and “Cookie’s” special chow. Still use it today for most of my meals.

Cayenne

Spices up anything from lame potatoes to hot cocoa. I used it extensively when working with the Germans in the late 80’s. Was great since everything was based on potatoes.

Curry

I picked this up from the Brits- and though not a huge fan, I like it in some of the boil and serve meals for backpacking. Some say with sugar it is good for post meal deserts. OK…not going to try…

Cinnamon

We used to get served sludge in place of coffee. I swear there has to be some kind of machismo or street cred for making the absolute worse coffee. I faked two habits while serving. One was smoking and the other was drinking sludge. The first was because you could get a break from guard duty or out of formation to go smoke. I carried cancer sticks to either get a chance to get off post or to socialize with the locals. The second vice, drinking sludge was a survival mechanism in cold weather. A warm cup of crap will heat the insides. It definitely goes better with cinnamon. Grunts don’t do creme and sugar.

Also great with oatmeal. The rations were so bad on a deployment one time that I ate oatmeal for nearly every meal for 45 days. My nickname was ACME…for the brick company

Italian Seasoning

Great for any pasta you bring with you to add to the mix or the stuff packed in an MRE. Will do wonders for camp food as well.

Garlic

I became addicted to Garlic while stationed at Ft Dix, where ticks were horrible. I ate so much that Vampires and Vixen’s alike repelled me. Great for unsalted potatoes.

Taco Spice

Yep, the stuff you mix with ground beef for a fiesta meal. I will add this to anything meant to be consumable. Great for taking to Asia when you need a different flavor in your diet.

Taking extra spices with you is a way to make some very creative meals. It will also make you very popular when your crew is pushing the same foods down the gullet everyday.

Tough Love-Babes in the Woods

20130422-110343.jpg

Lighting a fire in wet conditions, and not rescuing from the failures is tough…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This goes along with our podcast- you can find it at http://www.Adventure IQ.com)

I have never been a fan of the notion everybody wins. When coaching youth roller hockey in San Antonio, I had one of the few, and eventually the only program that still kept score in the YMCA portfolio of sports programs.

I believe that you need to give kids a realistic view of their performance, but done so in a way that you leverage their strengths in whatever evaluation you are doing. I don’t believe in sugar coating the feedback, or playing with soft gloves. I also don’t believe in being harsh on them either.

In all my workshops, coaching endeavors, or training I do with kids, military leaders, new adults to the woods, etc is the same… I define the conditions and expectations, allow them to perform, allow them to self evaluate, and then provide guidance and feedback.

The other aspect is tough. I don’t rescue. I allow failure as long as safety is not compromised. Nothing is learned if I am constantly helping a participant to a point I am completing the task them.

Let’s discuss two situations where I have to guide a participant differently.

The first is a fire building scenario. The participant has a good grasp of the concept, understands how to use flint and steel, knows the type of tinder and has been highly successful in starting fires in the past. But this has all been in controlled conditions when it has been fair weather and dry materials.

Survival fires though are most often needed when conditions are wet and clammy. To really test skills, I have to put the participant into real conditions so they not only have the ability to start fires and get warm when most needed, but to have the confidence to do so.

Most fail in getting the fire started in these conditions. Many times, I fail. It is a difficult test to complete. But the real learning is through the debrief with the participant and allowing them to do it again.

Watching a participant unnecessarily expending energy to grab materials, using the wrong materials, standing by and watching the fire not start can be irritating and the desire to jump in can be powerful. But I have to let them fail. This is because the participant has acquired a level of mastery in controlled conditions that can lead to over-confidence which is just as dangerous as not having the skills at all. Here you have to have the tough love and not jump in, allow them to identify their own mistakes, and then provide guidance.

In the other situation, a participant who is new to GPS navigation. In this scenario, the participant is just learning, and allowing them to fail outright as they work to program coordinates, follow the gps to a target, and try to find the best path to get to the target can be overwhelming. In this case I will work closely with the participant and provide constant coaching and working them to success. I still use the same debrief techniques of “what, so what, now what” that I have discussed in the blog and podcast in the past.

Building a solid toolbox of skills is an on-going exercise. As a team, constantly work on our skills to either keep them sharp or learn new techniques. It is also what helps us in communicating with each other and building our team and our families to a tighter cohesive group.

I am not a fan of the everybody wins philosophy. In the back-country people die. There is no second place with mother nature, just a body bag.

Original article: http://waukeefamilyymca.blogspot.com/2011/09/everybody-plays-everybody-wins.html

For more information about us, please checkout http://www.AdventureIQ.com for other blogs, podcast, and videos.

Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul

IMG_6292         Forget about Gangnam style…when in Seoul there is so much to see beyond the glitz and the glam. Beyond the hustle and bustle (Korean women are ALWAYS running and nobody patiently waits for elevator doors to close…they repeatedly hit the close button), there is a quite retreat known as Bongeunsa.  Bongeunsa is a Buddhist temple where like many other unique and interesting places, I found through geo-caching. Needing to drop off a travel bug, I discovered an interesting monastery only blocks away from my hotel.IMG_6293IMG_6312

Founded in 794 during the reign of King Wonseong by the monk Yeon-hoe, at the time the highest ranking monk of Silla, It sits on the slope of Sudo Mountain in Samseong-dong, across the street from the ultra-modern COEX Mall. Buddhism in Korea was violently repressed during the Joseon Dynasty.IMG_6348

Bongeunsa was reconstructed in 1498 with the support of Queen Munjeong, who revived Buddhism in Korea for a short time in the mid-16th century. In 1551 it became the main temple of the Zen (Korean Seon).

Today it is a revived temple complex with several buildings and rooms for followers and guest to meditate in. There is an air of friendliness to visitors and I even had the opportunity to sit for a very humble meal of rice and soup.

After dropping off my travel bugs and picking up a few in return, I stuck around to just relax on one of the trails on the side of the mountain. Later in the evening, I returned to watch the drumming ceremony. As an avid percussionist, I was completely captivated by the experience.IMG_6355

IMG_6347I believe that to understand a culture, you have to first understand that culture’s faith, food, and recreation. This is something my time in the military taught me, and lessons I still carry today. I am very solid in my faith, and though not a Buddhist, I found I could go into one of the buildings where others were praying, and I could simply relax and enjoy the atmosphere as I prayed on my own (Celtic Daily Prayer).

I was glad for the visit and I was more aware of the 4am gong and 6pm drumming. I made it an evening pilgrimage most nights to watch the four percussion instruments be played as part of a faith-based ceremony.

I won’t pretend to understand the faith, but found its followers very open to me being in their presence and very thankful for their acceptance of me. Great photo opportunities and it made me with I had my Dad’s technical expertise for taking great photos. At some point I need to get a great point and shoot digital and save my iPad and GoPro for other things…IMG_6314