Outdoor Survival | The basics of being prepared for an outdoor adventure Part 1

May 12, 2022 30 min read

Outdoor Survival | The basics of being prepared for an outdoor adventure Part 1

In today's episode Nick unpacks some great adventures with our guest, Fred. Listen and learn from an outdoor enthusiast's trials and tribulations.

"So I'm expecting to come down and maybe we're going to see a bear finally. And he stops and pivots, and his eyes are gigantic in his head. And he's like, it's not a bear. What is it? ...and there's like this eight foot tall Moose on the trail, and his backside was facing us. And we're maybe only like five 6ft from it from the way we came around this corner. And immediately I'm thinking we have no place to go because Moose do what hippopotamus do. They trample people..."

What would you even do in this situation? It's good to be prepared for the unexpected.

Another way to be prepared for an adventure is with a good map. Where might you be able to get water once you run out along your route? Or, what's going to look like a good area to camp in if you need to plan out where you're staying overnight?

Fred goes into the details when it comes to reading maps and route outlining for  hikes. There is definitely some planning required for a multiple day hike into the back woods. Not to mention there are a few tools you will want to have with you. 

Want to add some new freeze dried food to your outdoor adventures? Valley Food Storage is offering a special deal for our podcast listeners. Enjoy 15% off your entire order when you use the code PRACTICAL15.

Nick:

Hello, everyone out there. And welcome to another episode of Practical Prepper Podcast. My name is Nick, and we have a great episode for you today. We have Fred joining us, who is a very, very experienced hiker. And he goes over all kinds of stuff, from from the very basics to walking styles to footwear choices, food choices, water purification, all that kind of stuff. We'll get right into it, and I hope you enjoy. 


Nick:

So, Fred, how are you, my friend? 


Fred:

Hey, I'm doing great, Nick. Yeah. Thanks for inviting me to do this. 


Fred:

Absolutely. Thanks for joining us. I really appreciate it. Hiking is something that I feel like a lot of people use the term, but they don't really know what it is. I was at a friend's son's birthday party yesterday and there were two people and this actually happened. I'm not just making this up for the sake of the podcast. These two people left and we're like, oh, where are you going? Like, we're going hiking. And they leave and they have no gear. They might have like a half drank water bottle and they're in vans and like a Patagonia jacket. Like to you, is that even hiking, or do you think people use the term hiking, like, way too loosely? 


Fred:

I think it's a loose term. But what is hiking? Hiking is what walking. You're walking maybe somewhere with a destination in mind, typically in the wilderness. Right. And I've debated that with some of my friends, actually, while hiking. And we're like, well, are we really going for a walk or are we hiking? And then we get into was this hiking or is this technically now backpacking? And does it need to be overnight to be backpacking? So it's a fun conversation, but I think the activity lends itself to that kind of free spiritedness to whatever you really want to call it. It's really an activity you're kind of making beyond the fact that you may have some pre designated trails to follow. You know, you're really deciding here, what is it that I'm going to try to go out and do or try and see today or over the next few days and you kind of see what comes along the trail? 


Fred:

Well, that's interesting. That's how you view it, that somebody is an avid hiker, because I always wondered that I was like, should I if you're just going for a trail walk, like, am I hiking? Should I just say that I'm walking when I say that I'm going hiking, does it sound ridiculous? But I'm sure we'll get to cover all that in all its glory. 


Fred:

Well, I'm sure some people that play really hardcore sports, be that football or whatever it is, and they go and they ask, do you do any sports? Yes, I like to hike. And they look at that and they're like, how the heck is that a sport? 


Nick:

But it is very physically demanding. I mean, I've never done any backpacking or overnight hikes. But I've set out on ones that were 4 hours out, 4 hours back in type of thing. If you aren't prepared for that type of thing, it could be bad. 


Fred:

Yes, you're absolutely right. You're setting yourself up for misery if you've never done something like that and then suddenly go out for 4 hours and back in and you're not taking some of the kind of the creature comforts that will make the difference between it being a painful experience and maybe just being a nice strenuous day, but still enjoyable. 


Nick:

Yeah. Alright. Well, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into hiking and all that good stuff. 


Fred:

So I started walking just with the Cub Scouts. We would set these really short term trips. Parents planned everything. We just go out in the woods and typically we didn't know where we were except we were out in the woods and people are showing us all kinds of cool stuff with worms and roots and everything. But the point behind this type of hikes was really to get us engaged as kids, not so much about it being a sport, but more about showing us some appreciation for being out and how to slow down and take in things around you. And I only did that for a couple of years, but what I ended up doing is getting into a group called the Young Marines, which was kind of like a group that is sponsored by the armed forces here in the States and they actually have real enlisted personnel or retired personnel that will come and instruct the youth in a variety of things. And one of them was hiking and backpacking. And so I did that for a few years in my teams and got exposure to survival training, like how to go out in the woods and take a knife, a tarp and maybe half a pack of matches and try to keep yourself fed for a few days. Yeah, it was fun. I guess that's the best way to say it was fun. Often by day three we're half starved, but no one ever got seriously injured. And it showed us another way of being out there in the woods. And then things kind of just dropped off and it became hitting the Metro Park as a teenager to get away from the noise and something to do after school, that kind of thing. And as I got into my early 20s, I was living pretty close to the COGA Valley here and there's a gorgeous network of trails running through there. Most people know about the bike and hike trail and the toe path trails. What they don't realize is we've got a gigantic trail that connects practically all four States of Ohio called the Buckeye Trail and that runs right through the Valley. And that is a trail that you can make nice loop hikes out of where you don't have to walk out from point A to point B and directly back to point A, covering the same ground. And instead you can make the loop hikes where you're not recovering ground. And it's easy to go out there and make a five mile hike or a 22 miles hike, whatever you really feel like doing for the day. So I did that a lot in my early 20s and then finally said, okay, I want to buy some gear. And I got a little catalog and bought some gear through the mail and started heading out into the woods to hike more and to make those overnight trips and turn it into backpack. 


Nick:

What was your first big like, okay, I got the gear. I want to go for this now. What was your first big hike? 


Fred:

So the first really big one that I can remember was with my wife before we got married, and we went down to the west of the Shenandoah Valley. It's the Menaga Helia National Forest, and it's a part of Eastern West Virginia that's got true wilderness land in there, some really amazing microclimates going on in different spaces. And we went down and we did a mountain called North Fork Mountain, and we also did a section of wilderness where we had to actually transport by car a day or so later called Otter Creek Wilderness. And when I refer to wilderness, what I'm talking about are areas with no signs. There's no equipment allowed back there. There's definitely blazed trails, but typically you just have rock Cairns, which are piled rocks to Mark where you might have to cross a Creek or look out for a fork in the trail. So in case something gets overgrown, you're aware that, hey, there might be a change in the path here. So that was our first big trip. It ended up being kind of stressful getting out of Otter Creek because my wife and I bid on more than we could really chew. And it wasn't lack of planning, it was lack of experience. And so we came out of that physically exhausted. But I tell everyone to this day, that was the hike in the day, and I realized that I was going to propose to her. 


Nick:

Oh, wow. 


Fred:

If we could get through this, and we were still having a great time together, regardless of feeling kind of sick and overwhelmed and extremely tired and never once had a bad moment of it as far as the way we related to each other, you know, you found something special there. So it was a great hike, and you're a great backpacking experience, and I like to tell people about it. 


Nick:

Oh, wow. That's awesome. Yeah. Not many people have that. I thought you were going to say it was right when I knew, like, oh, I love hiking. I love this extreme form of exercise, but that's way better. That's awesome. 


Fred:

Well, and that definitely came out of it. And probably set up a pattern of me tending to step out, bite off a little bit more than I realized that I was biting off and then coming back pretty darn tired and with blisters and bug bites and everything else. But those trips, I survived every one. So I call them all good trips still.


Nick:

every time to push the boundary just a little bit more so you can always get better. Like, I've done this one. I've done this one. Now I'm going to add an extra 10 miles or something onto the back end of your hike. 


Fred:

Yeah. There's definitely the times that I look back and go, I don't know, I almost drowned that day because I was wearing a heavy pack and I fell through a layer of bog and ended over my head with a heavy pack and getting dragged in. When I fell into that bog was actually just two years ago. My wife and I have been married for over 20 years now, but years ago on a trip with my son and we were just kind of diverting off a trail and thought we were on solid ground and I busted through a patch of you cut out all around me. Luckily, my son was there. He was able to pull me out. If I was solo hiking, that when I truly questioned whether or not I would have come back. 


Nick:

Wait, right before you were about to tell the story, you actually cut out your Internet cut out and it went completely silent and I missed the whole thing. But we can add it through that if you want to go ahead and run it back. I don't want people to miss out on it. 



Fred:

Yeah. So that trip was down into Otter Creek, and again, there's a lot of different environments in there. And one of them was a very large bog that we needed to either cut across or go around. And we thought for certain because we had strong footing going into it that we would maintain just kind of walking on squishy ground. And what I ended up walking across was like sheets of sod that then had an unknown depth of water beneath. And I know there was at least 6ft of water because I fell through the side, busted through, just took one step, planted into it. Within a moment, I'm suddenly water over my head and rushing into my pack and into my boots and thinking, how the heck am I ever going to get out of this? I had a hiking pool that I got just a little bit of purchase, but if he hadn't been there when I say sometimes biting off more than I expected, that was one of those moments. And I don't think any amount of preparation would have gotten me out if I was solo. So I really do prefer to do the longer trips with people anyways because of the social aspects. But in that case, just having someone with me. You probably really did save my life. 


Nick:

So when you do go, like you said, you've gone with your son and your wife. Now, do you have a normal group of people that you go with or I know you just said you don't really prefer to do it alone, but when you go, what's your standard crew? 




Fred:

So my standard crew, if I'm just hiking, it's typically my wife and my son, we're talking day hikes. They're going to do anything with me that are the what I would call moderate to a little bit longer days where we're walking maybe six to 12 miles or more. And then my wife tends to drop off of those hikes around the twelve mile Mark. And it's just my son and I he's a cross country runner, much better physical condition than myself, and he can really handle it. My wife, I bet she could handle it. But at that point, she's like, okay, this is a bit much for me. I've got two daughters. They do the short hikes with us, but really, I think 6 miles is too much for them. They're like, yeah, we're on the trail too long. I want to go do something else. 


Nick:

You just get bored. They're like, all right. 


Fred:

Yeah. But for me, it's 6 miles. My legs are warmed up and I'm enjoying the day at that point. And I don't want to leave the woods or wherever we're at.


Nick:

Yes. When it's really your thing and you're like, oh, 6 miles, we're just getting started. And they're probably like, oh, dad. Yeah, we're just getting started. 


Fred:

Yeah. I've got a buddy I went to high school with, too. He goes along with us on several different adventures and we keep up to this day. And a lot of times when I see him, it's just so we can go out and do a day hike or he'll occasionally go and do some backpacking with us. So that's really it. I don't like huge groups in the background channel want all that noise. It becomes a different element, too, with managing time and resources when you have that many people. I think the only exception I would make on that rule for myself is if I was with a group of Scouts, because I have done a bit of Scout leading and things like that. And I've been around a lot of Boy Scouts, and they're really great kids in most cases, and they know how to handle themselves in the back country. And so I enjoy the time that we have had in those kind of cases. But typically I want small groups. 


Nick:

Did your son do the Scouts and the young Marines like you did, or no. 


Fred

No, he followed kind of a different path. He did a little bit of Cub Scouts and then got out, and then he got back into Boy Scouts for a while, and then he got out again maybe about a year and a half ago. So he didn't Eagle, but he learned a lot from them and it really was a great program. It didn't fit his exact lifestyle and what he wanted to do, and he wanted to get more into sports and just follow some other stuff. 


Nick:

So when you're looking at longer hikes, multiple days and you're going deep into the woods, what's like your best tips for route planning if there's not necessarily a marked trail, if that makes sense.


Fred:

Sure. But most parks, especially most people, don't realize that in the Metro Park you can go off the trails unless you're in an area that specifically says these trees or plants are being protected because they really are trying to protect some sort of wildlife right in that zone. Most of the time you really can't just go off the trail pretty much anywhere. There's some national parks that won't let you do it, and they'll say, no, you must stay on the permitted trails and it's because of overuse and it's because of fragile ecosystems. But some of the best places for doing that are in our Forest Service lands and that you can typically get topographical maps for. These are maps that are available directly through the Forest Service websites, or sometimes you have to order them by mail, but they're almost all on websites now available for free. You don't have to pay for them. You can download PDFs, and then you can take those topical graphical maps and then take them to a local print shop. They can print on like waterproof paper. You just roll it up and you got your own custom map in your backpack and you take it out with you. If it rains, you get dunked in a Creek. Whatever it is, it's going to hold up. It won't be like a little paper map, quite honestly. I've got some that are twelve years old and they're still in great shape. And the only reason I would ever think of replacing them is if a route changed or the Park Service has made system wide changes. And I'm like, okay, I got to have the newest edition of that trail map. That's kind of where I start just by grabbing those maps. I tend to not use any sort of guidebooks because the guidebooks are almost always about going on pre planned trips on pre planned trails, and they're very specific about what trail junctions they want you to turn at. And I don't like those type of books because they're harder for me as a person who wants to pick my own trail and decide what I want to see throughout the day or try to try to accomplish. You kind of have to decipher and pull out pieces they're not really specific about between each trail section and where these link up. So I really do prefer to just read maps, maybe take some advice off of blogs or from in a lot of cases, Facebook. Even if you're looking at a specific forest area, there might be a Facebook group where someone's like, hey, go and check out northeast corner of this above this Ridge. It's a great place, and they might give hints on how to get there. And then you just need to know how to read the map, the lines of inclination and declination so you can tell, hey, what's going to be a really steep area, or where might I be able to get water once I run out along my route? Or what's going to look like a good area to camp in if you need to plan out where you're staying overnight. And a lot of times those lines on the map will draw you a pretty good picture of it. Is it going to be really hilly or steep or it's going to be pretty flat there? And of course, whether or not that water is available, which for me, I almost never will plan a campsite unless I'm within at least half a mile of water and I almost always just put them right next to water because I'm a big believer in filtering water and I need to have access to a pretty large filter bag that I carry and carry it back to camp and maybe do that more than once, depending on what I'm cooking or how much cleaning I have to do. 


Nick:

That's interesting. So would you say that using a topographical map is kind of for somebody who's more of a skilled hiker? Like if somebody really didn't know and they grabbed a topographical math and they're like, I'm going to use this to make sure I stay on track. But if you don't necessarily know how to read it, would it prove to be more difficult if you kind of got out in the middle of somewhere and you're like, oh, I'm not as well versed at reading this as somebody else might be. 


Fred:

So I would never go out in the woods with only a topographical map and hope to do back country navigation if I really didn't know how to do that. And I almost never do that because honestly, even the people that are really good at it, once you get under a forest canopy, if you try to do things like triangulation off of a map and you're looking for points that are out in the distance to try to figure out where you are on a piece of two dimensional paper, it's really hard to do when you've got a tree canopy hanging over you, even when you're really good at it, because you just can't see these different points that you would want to be able to find yourself using. So someone without any experience? No, there's so many great trails available out there and great paths that have already been tread. They can go out and get a great backcountry without having to Bushwhack and do all of that kind of stuff and really just have a lot of fun. And honestly, that's probably an extra level of stress most people don't need on their first trip. They're going to still probably be figuring out their gear and what they do. And they don't like how they prefer to hike because it's different methods, even how you walk on a trail when you start to break down the science of it. So definitely for a beginner, get a good map, get an understanding what the trail is. Carry a Compass in your pocket, a real Compass, not one on a watch or anything that requires a battery or just runs out of battery. You're going to want something real in your pocket and you always want to have in the back of your mind Where's that best exit point is. There a highway 10 miles to the north that if you really had to gut it out over three days, you just keep going north until you have just that backup exit plan in your mind for if you really get lost, travel in a specific direction, it will either hit a waterway or a roadway and you'll be able to find somebody that way. 


Nick:

Do you always have one of those like that backup is the plan. That's like a staple of your hiking trips. 


Fred:

Yeah. And I think that came from the experience with the young Marines where they were teaching about survival mentality. And it's not to mean that I'm the survivor man. I could ever be able to do what those guys do on some of those pretty far out programs. And I'm not about trapping mice under rocks to eat them and that kind of stuff. Right. But that did plant good seeds in anybody that wants to do that back country kind of navigation, I should say. There are groups in our area in northeast Ohio and I'm sure around the rest of the country that often will teach that skill absolutely. For free to people that want to learn. So looking up orienteering on a Google search would probably help somebody connect to that pretty easily. An orienteering class or course, because sometimes they call them courses where they'll set you out on a predesignated course that will teach you how to do that. Yeah. It's definitely a really great skill. Or find a Scout, ask a Boy Scout, he'll show you how to do it. 


Nick:

Yeah, I'm sure there are some people out there who listen to this podcast. You definitely would find great interest in that kind of that's. Like if all else fails, like if I'm out here and something really terrible has happened and I'm on my own, like I might need to know how to trap field mice underneath a rock and build those style of traps. 


Fred:

Yes, you're right. Some of those basic survival skills really could come in handy for you. Truly, people have been lost in very small areas of park because they truly couldn't find their way out. And you get stuck in a place and you're uncomfortable for a few days. And depending on your general health, you may need to find a way to drink water or to eat that at least keep you alive until someone finds you. 


Nick:

So what's something that I know we went through, you fell through the bog, and that was pretty traumatic experience. But is there any other times that you've had when something kind of unexpected has occurred and you kind of had to deal with it in real time? 


Fred:

Yeah. And actually, this is also an example of an example of bad pre planning. So my son and I were headed down and I talk about West Virginia a lot because I absolutely love it down there and there's such a variety of experiences. But we were headed down there for just like a three day trip. And actually it was going to be a four day trip. And we were going down and on the way I realized I forgot my flashlight. And I normally carry a headlamp, and the battery in that thing will last me like a week. So one set of batteries is fine. And he says, yeah, well, I've got a headlamp with me and I'm like, well, let's stop at a couple of places. So we stopped at like two gas stations and nobody had any sort of flashlight whatsoever. But I was thinking in the back of my mind, we're not staying up late, which pretty much plan on making camp, going to bed, one flashlight between just me and my son. We can share that. We'll be fine. Yeah. We ended up climbing this one section of mountain and had a storm pull in on us about an hour before sundown. So we estimated we were probably only about 20 minutes away from the campsite that we were hoping to make it to because in this area of wilderness we are in, we don't want to try to make new campsites. We try to use old so we don't put the extra burden on the ground and scar the land. So we went up, had heavy cloud camping, heavy tree coverage, and started to sprinkle. And we looked around and said, you know what? This might be an OK spot to camp in just in a pinch. And we had some hammocks, so we didn't need flat ground. We can camp over a couple of rocks just between a couple of trees. And we debated it. We said, let's push on because the other site is supposed to be really pretty. Let's go try to get to this other site. Well, a storm comes in and it comes in and it's just torrential rain and it's beating down on everything. And we're in essentially a section of forest that has the high tree canopy but also has a bunch of mid growth that are wild rhododendron. And people think of rhododendrons as these really pretty flowers in the garden. But what we found for the next day and a half because of that decision was that Rhododentron can make life absolutely hell for you. So we proceeded to climb up the side of this mountain in the Rhododendron bushes were all collapsing in underneath the weight of the rain coming down on the branches. The trail absolutely disappeared from underneath of us. We went back and forth, back and forth, but we had a general idea of where we were. And I said, okay, let's push on. I think if we just get over this next Ridge. But because the rock and ground under us was very uneven, it was not trail or flat, and it was all on some sort of Hill. And as it's getting darker and darker and we're just, like in these brambles of branches that are just slapping us and beating us around, I realize it's going to be pitch black in about 25 minutes, if less. And we've got two hammocks that we've never set up. We better at least find two trees or three trees that we could string between so we could share one tree for one end of our hammocks and then use two other independent trees. But with hammocks, you got to make sure that the trees are specific distance apart or within a given range because you've only got so much rope or tie off on each end of that hammock. So it can't be too short between the trees or too long, or your hammock won't have enough to suspend you or you can't connect to them. So here we are, and it's getting darker and darker. I'm like, Dan, you're going to have to get off that headlight. We finally found our trees still can't see the ground, at least at this point below calf level. So we're just stumbling around and trying to stand upright as we're pulling stuff out of our packs. And he finds his flashlight and I'll be darned. It was broken. And the only way we can keep this headline is if he held it in his hand a specific way and put a certain type of pressure on the back panel of it. So, yeah, I should have found a way to get one of those darn flashlights before we headed out there. And here it is. It's flashing on and off. We are in an area with copperheads and with rattlesnakes, which luckily it was cool. It was raining. Well, it was probably about the time of day they might be out, but we weren't in an area that would likely be at that exact moment. And we were really just, like, scrambling to try to set up these hammocks. And as the lights are flashing on and on, the rain is coming down. We finally get up a couple of tarps, and it takes us no less than 45 minutes in this pitch darkness. We're shivering. And we finally get the hammocks hung up and we're in them. And we're like, just eating, and we finally just turn off the flashlight. We're sitting there eating in the dark and all you can hear is the rain and us munching through bags of food and trying not to make a mess. But the big part of making a mess isn't because we didn't want to get a couple of crumbs on the ground, because we didn't want to leave something on the ground that would send for the bears because we were truly within 200 yards of a bear sanctuary. No fences. There's a line on the map that says, yeah, by the way, on this side of the Hill is a bear sanctuary. So we don't want anything that smells like food outside of these scent proof pouches that we have. And unfortunately, we made a mess. So that night was pretty overwhelming. And the next day we spent a good 7 hours fighting our way down the side of the mountains. We never found the trail again until we fought through these Rhododendron tickets coming all the way down the side of this mountain. And we were out of water and we couldn't find any more water. And I was extremely dehydrated and we were both very hot. And yeah, it's all a matter of just improper planning. Didn't have the right equipment. And then we pushed on when we could have said, you know what? The rain is starting to fall. We don't really know this area too well. We should just stop and be happy with where we are. We would have had a much more pleasant four day experience instead. It was kind of harrowing at points.


Nick:

But it makes for a great story. Now you've got the tale to tell, which is cool. That's a cool. And you got to do it with your son, which is pretty awesome. 


Fred:

Yeah. And there were moments along that you find the rewards in that, like waking up in a canopy that we never got to see in full light. And we're hanging at the level of the tops of these rudder dendrin bushes and watching birds flying all around us at the break of dawn and the mist rising up out of the woods. And we did hear a Rattler down below us at one point in the night. So some of them were going past us, but it was so rewarding to be in that peaceful calmness. And there was no trail. There was no campsite around us. All we could make out was this big trail that we had stumbled through in the dark the night before. It was just wonderful, actually. It was a really great experience. 


Nick:

So you mentioned that when you were setting up the hammocks that you were shivering a little bit. Like, what's your tactic if you are like your body temperatures dropping, you're kind of in a scenario like that, what do you do to keep warm? In that sense? 


Fred:

Yeah. So a lot of my thermal management went out in the field is all about layers. So I try to have lightweight waking layers that I can throw fleece and other layers then ultimately something that's going to block wind and rain on the top of all that. And in that case, actually even summertime, we'll carry out like a beanie hat, like a winter going out for sled riding beanie hat. And just to give you that extra warmth in case maybe you're laying on the ground at night. The ground is kind of cold and snapping your body energy to keep your head warm. That'll make a big difference. Keep your head and your feet warm and make a big difference. So that layering is really important. And in that moment, I was more concerned with getting my son and I up off the ground into a dry space than I was. I wasn't so worried about hypothermia, which can happen on a 60 degree night if you're soaked and chilled. But hypothermia wasn't. First and foremost, it was more of let's try to find something that we can actually relax our bodies on because there was no ground. There was nothing to lay down, sit down on. We had to get suspended in these hammocks or else we had no chance of any sort of comfort in getting new energy into our bodies, which was also going to be an additional source of warmth for us to actually get fresh carbohydrate into us. 




Nick:

Like you said, you were near the bear sanctuary and you heard the Rattlers. Have you ever had an encounter with wildlife? 


Fred:

So I've seen black bear several times on the trail, and I have actually. My son and wife and his girlfriend, she went with us on a couple of night backpacking trip last summer, and we finally saw I always hear the snakes, but I never get to see them. I saw what had to be at least a six and a half foot long rattlesnake. And it was huge. And I was in this clearing and we were eating our lunch and just kind of enjoying the middle of the day and look over it and it just came out of the tree line like, hey, this is my spot. Just stay back. It didn't seem to be bothered. We were there, it would rattle, but it kept coming in our direction and we moved out of its way and let it get into the sunny spot that it wanted. And that was pretty awesome. One time we were coming down out of a place called Paintbrush Canyon, which is up in the Grand Tetons, and we had just been out there walking around on some ice and snow. It was beginning of July and the divides still weren't melted out. But we came down out of there and it was maybe an hour before dark, and my son was hiking ahead of me on a really narrow trail where to the left it was all like thorny brush, and to the right was basically a rock wall. And the trail was maybe about 3ft wide. And I'm expecting bear because there was lots of bear sightings that summer in the Tetons. And they're running around all over the place out there. So I'm expecting to come down and maybe we're going to see a bear finally. And he stops and pivots, and his eyes are gigantic in his head. And he's like, it's not a bear. What is it? I kind of pushed him aside and look around him, and there's like this eight foot tall Moose on the trail, and his backside was facing us. And we're maybe only like five 6ft from it from the way we came around this corner. And immediately I'm thinking we have no place to go because Moose do what hippopotamus do. They trample people. They're some of the most dangerous animals to actually get close to in the wild. They're like Buffalo. They'll just run you right over. And that's what I'm thinking. I can't go any. I'm thinking that was my only option was to go into these thorny brush because I can't climb the rocks to my side here. And I'm thinking we're going to get all shredded here in just a moment and trying to hopefully not get trampled. And sure enough, it looks back at us and it keeps chewing, and it slowly takes about seven steps off the trail and looks back at us like, all right, dummies, go. Before I do decide to run you over, I had to. I reached in, I pulled out my camera, and I got a couple of shots of this Moose. It was iconic pictures of a Moose in the woods. I was thrilled we got past it. And that was just a really cool moment to be that close to a huge animal. And yeah, it was just a really cool time. We actually did get our picture from it, too. You know, I think the other animal that's been really cool to be around has been Marmot. And Marmot are like groundhogs, but I'd say they've got more personality. They're kind of bigger. They come up to you in a lot of cases because they're not necessarily afraid of us. They typically will play around with your equipment first. We've had them chew on hiking poles and try to get into backpacks and stuff. These are big animals. And there was one day we were hiking out of a place called Bomber Mountain that is up in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in my life. Absolutely, like, heartbreakingly gorgeous in there. Very remote. And we are coming out of this campsite. We'd been able to camp overnight. Nobody else around it at this Lake, totally isolated. And the next morning we're hiking back up the side of this mountain to get back out. And in this big field, these Marmot are running to either side of us on the trail and they look like if you've ever been on a boat or seen how Dolphins will follow boats, they're, like hopping through the weeds along beside us, and they look like little land Dolphins just jumping through the woods and you're trapping through the high brush. They're neat animals. And we don't see that here. Yeah, we don't see that out here. 


Nick:

When you passed the Moose, how close were you to it at the very closest point when I did that? 


Fred:

Well, when we first saw it was the closest point, and then it did step off the trail, I would say about 10ft off the trail. 


Nick:

Okay. 


Fred:

So we never felt like, okay, we're in the clearing until we finally really got to walk past it. And after hearing all the stories of them trampling people, by no means am I trying to encourage anybody to have a close encounter with a Moose. But I really thought we were going to be in for something with more of a lot worse story. And when it turned around and just looked at us and it was chewing on its food, and it just had this look on her face, like, all right, guys, just keep going. It was fun. 


Nick:

I've always wondered I'll be walking through the woods if we decide to go on a hike or something like that. And what would I actually do if you come face to face with a bear or something like that? Because I know that there's the rhyme, isn't there? Like, depending on what kind of bear, what species of bear it is, what you're supposed to do. But as a human being, when you'd see it and fear sets in, I think that stuff goes out the window. If you're not an experienced outdoorsman and you are going to run, you're going to think, I can get away from this animal. But I still don't know the answer of what I would actually do, because you can't recreate that feeling of probably sheer terror that's coursing through your body. When that occurs.


Fred:

You're right. And where you can't get experience, you can at least get educated. So after a lifetime of hearing what to do around Black bear, if there's a Mama and baby, definitely stay away. Do not make yourself a threat. If it's just one bear or a couple of medium to adult sized bears, make yourself big, make lots of noise. They take off running. It happens every time. Unless there could be extenuating circumstances. I don't want to get somebody killed. But for the most part, every time they're going to see you or hear you first, black bear, you know, grizzly bear other story. If you smell tasty, you better be ready to put up a fight or protect yourself or tower. There's a totally different method with that polar bear you're done. If they get that close to you, they're extremely aggressive. But Black bear, you've got a pretty good chance of just staring them off and probably never seen the one that was on the trail two minutes before you got there. 


Nick:

Yes, I've always found it interesting, especially the part about the polar bear. Obviously, it's the one that you're probably least likely to come into contact with, at least obviously where we live. But unless you do a lot of Arctic outdoor adventures, things like that. 


Fred:

But yeah, in any sort of trip like that, when you're going into an area that you don't know the animals and you don't know what you're going to be around, obviously you want a little bit of education about that. So maybe you can appreciate it or know what to expect in that repetition of reading up on things and getting an idea about that specific area you're in because we could talk about, you know, you'll get an idea of what those animals are, keep it fresh in your mind, think about it a few times. And more than likely, I'm betting that if you do the right type of homework and you really had some level of awareness, Your brain is going to pull the detail out. But it's giving yourself that little bit of repetition in that information, not just reading it once and going, okay, yeah, there's bears and whatever. Taking it a little bit serious probably go a long way to helping you have that moment of clarity and do the right thing. 


Nick:

Oh, absolutely. All right. In an effort to build the suspense, we're going to call this part one. And I thank you so much for coming and talking to us and hanging out and we'll get you back on and we'll fire up part two and that's going to be all about drinking water, potable water, food sources, what you take with you, all that good stuff. So thank you again for coming and talking to us. 


Fred:

Yes, that's fun. Thanks, Nick. 


Nick:

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. That's part one of the hiking basics with our friend Fred. I hope you really enjoyed it. We are going to have a part two here pretty soon, hopefully next week and we get into the food he takes with him, what he prefers, water purification, cracks and myths, even. And we talk about the trips he has coming up. He's got a really cool one coming up that we talked about a little bit and we get into all that. Before we go, I want to shout out our friends at Valley food storage. They have clean, nutritious, healthy, long term food storage options for people like Fred and anybody else who is just in the survival space. Listen to this podcast. You can take 15% off your next order with the code practical 15 at checkout.