Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Can you leave in 30 minutes?

The other day, my friend and I were discussing our preparedness level. Eventually, we began discussing the importance of being ready to leave our homes on very short notice. One thing led to another and we decided that we would each take one hour to prepare, then leave our homes and hike to the top of a nearby mountain and hike back down in the morning. In the spirit of adventure and to test ourselves even further, we intentionally left behind some essentials and some items that would make us comfortable. For instance, we did not bring a shovel, a stove, a ground pad, a tent, sweets, a water filter, or a coat. On the other hand, we took some heavy items that we didn't really need, but it would be unrealistic to practice a "bug out" without them. We each carried a rifle, 100 rounds of ammo, 3 days worth of food, and 3 liters of water. Including the rifles, our total kit was around 50 pounds. The idea was to see how well we fared under extreme, unplanned conditions. Another thing we lacked was physical preparation. Neither he nor I have a regular exercise regime and we are both about 50 lbs overweight. We chose to test ourselves on a steep 3.5 mile mountain trail that ended at a lake. To make it even more interesting, we decided to leave at night. Oh, I almost forgot, my friend suffers from siatica in his left leg and I was nursing a right knee that I reinjured the day before.

Most folks who hike this trail take around 2 hours to get to the lake and about 2 hours to get back down. We figured that it would take us about 3 hours - 3.5 hrs at the most. We were a little off.

Without boring you too much, let's just say that we found many areas where we need improvement. The hike took us around 4 hours, when we reached the top the temperature was just under 40 degrees, we slept (yeah right) on rocks and hard patches of grass which made our rest spotty - to put it mildly. I slept nearly 3 hours, while my friend is lucky if he got 45 minutes.

Here are some of the items I missed the most. A good ground pad or a hammock, a better sling for my rifle, my big knife (which eliminates the need for a small knife and a shovel), a watch cap to wear while I sleep, a water filter, a poncho (which can double as a tarp in case of bad weather), extra socks, moleskin, snack food, more food, a stove, and a coat. Obviously I won't bring all these items every time, but the lack of certain comforts made the trip more stressful than it could have been. The one item I missed the most was my big knife. With it I could have at least softened the ground and gotten a better rest.

This little adventure was critical to better preparation. We both learned a lot, and will be better prepared for our next adventure and ultimately, for an emergency situation. I recommend that anyone who is serious about preparedness take a similar trip.

We have now planned a second trip. The next trip will be to the west desert, will involve five people instead of two, will be for a longer period of time, and will only allow us 1/2 hour to prepare.

What I'd like to see for future outings is each of us bug out to a predestined location on 15 minutes notice. The only information we will receive is where to meet, how long we expect to be gone, and how long we have to get to the meeting place. Some folks may wish to stick with just a fanny pack, others may want to take a full backpack, others may wish to carry both.

In addition to having our kit sorted out, I think it is just as important to be physically and mental prepared to "go" at a moment's notice. I am committed to losing at least 30 pounds and keeping my joints healthy. There is no doubt that my extra weight and lack of exercise was the most significant factor in my discomfort.

Below, I have listed some of the items that I suggest you have on a belt as your bare essentials to strap on and go with a moments notice.

Knife, water, fire starter (matches, lighter, magnesium and flint), MREs, poncho, blanket or sleeping bag, ground pad or hammock, spoon, metal cup, stove or sterno, rope or string, moleskin, first aid, extra socks, hat, sunglasses, 120 rounds of ammo, water filter, gloves, shorts, jacket, multi-purpose tool, trail mix, wet wipes, toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, razor, emergency blanket, mirror or CD - for signaling, whistle, rifle. Happy hiking.

1 comment:

long range bolt gun ga said...

I'd like to think that I can leave home in 30 mins at a moment's notice. I've checked my list of essentials to carry just in case and of course number one is my rifle to serve as protection. Anyway, thanks for sharing this article. Great read!

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