This past weekend I flew up to Seattle Washington and took a wilderness first aid certification class offered through Remote Medical International. I did this due to the fact that it is good to have on a resume, but it is also for my safety and for the safety of those around me. On the way home I saw this out my window. This is Mt. St. Helen’s located in Washington state, just south of Seattle. Seeing this and after thinking about what I was just trained on, I want to begin a mini series of posts about hiking safety. And I begin this all today with the phrase “Nature does not care.”
You may ask why I use this phrase and why Mt. St. Helen’s. Let me put it this way. The great outdoors does not care about you. It does not care if your rich or famous, strong or weak, if you have a family back at home, etc. You are no longer god of this domain out here.You are now playing by its rules. And if you mess up, you will lose and will be in a deadly situation very quickly.
The reason I chose Mt. St. Helen’s is because it is an example of how fast things change from interesting to deadly. Back in the 1980’s this mountain erupted. In this one swift moment 1/3 of the mountain was blown sky high and 57 people lost their lives. We all think that the earth does not change quickly, but in reality, it is a constantly shifting environment. Ask any experienced mountain climber. A clear day in the mountains can quickly change to a freezing down pour of rain and lightning.
Storms come an go, and with them comes land slides, falling trees, flash floods, and rapid change in temperatures. The sun can be just as dangerous when you are ill prepared. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are extremely dangerous and can kill you within a day in places like Southern Utah and Arizona where I spend most of my time.
So the first message of this series is be prepared. Think about where your going, the hazards you will face and what you should bring. (You can be somewhat of a minimalist. Don’t bring 5 days of food and water for a 1 mile walk in the hills, but don’t go without something.) And always always always remember water. You will die extremely quickly without it.