Thanks for visiting Colorado Wilderness Survival. Our goal is to educate you of the potential dangers you may face while visiting the often times unpredictable mountains of Colorado.
We hope to equip you with the knowledge and tools that can help you prepare in case disaster strikes while you enjoy the wilderness areas we have all grown to love.

We strive to post new articles and/or videos several times a week so be sure to bookmark our page and visit often! We do appreciate your comments and support.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wait 5 Minutes...

"If you don't like the weather in Colorado, wait 5 minutes it'll change!"

How many times have you heard that? On many levels that seems to be very true in Colorado, we can leave in the morning on a sunny spring day and end up hiking through a wet blizzard in the afternoon!

The problem with that thinking is that most day hikers don't prepare for cold weather in the case they get lost on their favorite trail. Remember across the country Search and Rescue groups list on the top of their mission logs "day hikers" as the number one group to need found and/or rescued! 

With the thought that bad weather may hit us but it'll pass soon enough is a very bad thought process to hold onto in the Colorado wilderness. Yes it can and does change quickly, unfortunately with Hypothermia at the top of the list for killing lost outdoor enthusiasts if the weather changes in 5 minutes from sun to rain and wait another five minutes for it to change to snow and then another 5 and you may find yourself standing there soaking wet, freezing, and fighting the wind! All the while the sun is going down.

So remember to dress appropriately and be prepared for any weather patterns you may run into within the mountains. Just because you're only planning on a day hike, prepare for a potential over night stay! 

Weather can prove to be our worst enemy when faced with surviving so always keep in the back of your mind how you will combat every type of weather you may face while trekking in the outdoors! 

Now get out there experience the beauty Colorado has to offer, practice your survival skills at every opportunity and stay warm, dry and alive!  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Seeing things..vision excercise

  I was practicing a couple of vision excercises today and having not done them in a while I was reminded of the importance of "seeing things."  Try these simple steps if you can when out in the woods..
Earth vision excercise. I call it earth vision but ive also heard it called "splatter vision" or the "stare".  Next time youre out, sit silent for a while with open eyes.  Try not to let your eyes focus on anything but let them see everything. Your eyes should encompass all movements in a relative stare, gazing and seeing all movements, peripherial and and whats infront of you.  Its sometimes difficult to do as our eyes generally want to focus.  This needs to be practiced.  Once i have my earth vision, its really amazing how much more I see.                                 
Focused vision excercise.  This technique is useful to find game or water sources or whatever my come into your eye.  Put your thumbs together and raise your index fingures in front of you, forming a U shape.  If looking at a mountain across a canyon try starting at the top and throughly study every inch of landscape with in the U, and move your way down.  By thoroughly seeing the landscape i have been fortunate enough to find game, water, see mines, and see breaks in the topography that had hidden a hiking trail.  Again practice and be patient, give yourself the chance to see everything.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dressed for Success

Dress in layers is the Mantra i've heard literally all my life. But the question we should ask isn't how to dress; it should be what to dress, and in where...

Cotton fabrics have tried over the years many times to run away with the clothing industry due to cost of manufacturing and availability. I would bet that the majority of you reading this article are at least wearing one thing that is made up entirely of cotton. So why is cotton not the best choice when trying to survive in the wilderness? That too is the question I asked not so long ago...

The answer is really very simple; one of the easiest ways to die in a wilderness situation is hypothermia. According to an article at CNN Health "between 1979 and 1995, 12,368 Americans died of hypothermia"
Our first defense against hypothermia than is going to be the clothes we wear. Dressed properly we will be more effective in building a shelter and fire. 

Cotton is probably the most popular fabric in clothing today and cotton is an excellent material at retaining water. Our underwear is a lot of times cotton, this includes the long johns you may have worn last time you expected some chili weather.... However Cotton has a major downfall when we are looking at being outdoors with the potential of finding ourselves in a survival situation.
Hypothermia occurs when our bodies core temperature drops below 95 degrees. From the United States Search and Rescue Task force we learn that water robs our body heat at a rate of 32 times greater than air. So you can see anything that keeps moisture next to our bodies is going to facilitate in cooling us down faster. 

This may not seem like a huge issue when you're planning on going out for a day hike in the middle of July. But what happens when you get lost and that trapped sweat begins to help cool you as the sun is going down? Remember this is Colorado and my wife and I have woke up to our camp site being covered in 4" of snow on one 4th of July weekend!! 

So now that you've thrown away all your cotton underwear and socks what are you going to wear; cause I'm begging you to please not go naked? At this point of the article I will pause briefly for a moment of awkward silence...

The Layers:
  • The Base Layer:
    • This is the layer that is against your skin. This includes your underwear and socks. The fabric should be able to take moisture away from your body not hold it in.
    • Good fabrics with wicking characteristics for your base layer are; polyester, polypropylene, and merino wool
  • The Insulating Layer:
    • This is the next layer, your regular clothing that will add insulation to keep you warm and help regulate your bodies temperature. If you are expecting very cold weather you should consider wearing multiple insulating layers.
    • Good fabrics that provide insulation are; wool and fleece
  • The Outer Layer or Shell:
    • This is the layer that will keep you dry and out of the wind.
    • Here you'll be looking at a water proof coat or jacket, preferably with a hood to keep water off of your head. Gore-Tex proves an excellent choice here as it is water-proof and breathable which will keep you dry and comfortable. 
As you can see, we already naturally dress in layers (underwear, clothing , coat). We  just need some fine tuning in what fabrics we choose to wear. My vote for all around durability and functionality for a variety of outdoor activities would have to be  a combination of wool and fleece with a Gore-Tex outer layer. 

Until next time, stay safe, stay dry, and stay warm!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Getting Out!

As we've discussed in previous posts, the decision to facilitate self rescue should not be a light one made while stressed. If you've set up camp and taken a few steps to make yourself more comfortable the decision to leave the comfort of your makeshift home becomes even more difficult.

Here's the scenario, you didn't tell anyone where you were going, you were going on a long day hike to clear your head and went into the bush to investigate something that caught your eye. Low lying clouds came in unexpectedly, but you kept walking, soaking up the beauty around you. When the clouds lifted you realized you  had completely lost your bearings and have no idea where you are. This was the beginning of a long weekend and no one would even suspect you were gone for at least the next four days. Then when someone does realize your not around they will have no idea where to even begin looking for you.

Having taken the basic survival class at Colorado Wilderness Survival, you know that your best option is to set up camp and set up some signals to help anyone that may be around find your location. Luckily for you, you packed with you your basic survival kit.

You STOP and evaluate your situation...

  • You know you are lost
  • You have no bearing on direction.
  • You have a only a couple hours left in the day
  • You know it will get cold tonight, the possibility is high that it will drop below freezing
  • You make a decision to make a fire and build a simple shelter.
After a mostly sleepless night, you decide the best course of action due to your lack of pre-planning, is try and find your own way out. But which direction to go?

Let's first discuss some general thoughts when trying to decide what direction to go. Please note these are general thoughts, not 100% hard and fast rules. These ideas should be coupled together with your knowledge of the area and as a last resort when you have decided to move but need some idea as to what direction to move.
  • When in the mountains head down. 
    • Lower elevations provide more resources to help survive.
  • Follow a running water source such as a stream, creek, or river.
    • Water runs downhill taking you to lower elevations.
    • Water provides one of your survival needs
    • Streams often times lead to lakes; people are drawn to lakes so your chances of finding someone near a lake are always higher than roaming around the middle of nowhere. 
  • In the Front Range if you're lost, head east. 
    • If you are visiting the mountains on the eastern slope and you head east, eventually you will find civilization
    • NOTE:If you are on the western slope, head west and the same rule as above applies!
Determining Direction without a compass:

Stick and Shadow Method: 
  1. Find a clear, sunny area and put a stick in the ground using a stone or another stick mark the top of the shadow cast by your marker.
  2. Take at least a 15 minute break.
  3. Mark the top of the shadow with a second rock.
  4. Draw a line in the dirt from the first marker to your second marker.
  5. This line gives you an approximate east-west bearing
  6. The 1st marker is West; the second marker will be East.
  7. Stand with your left foot on your first mark and your right foot on your second mark; you are now facing north.
Once you've got your bearing you need to keep it. The best way to do this is to pick a landmark in the distance in the direction you are wanting to go. Once you get there. Take your directional bearing again and repeat.

Until next time, have fun, stay safe and keep your bearing!

Hunting season..apps due!

Its time for applications for your large game tags in Colorado.  The deadline is April 3rd!!  Check the CO Division of Wildlife website or check our links and sponsors page for more details.. If anyone wants to go out this coming season or has interest in becoming a hunter please fell free to contact us,  We would love to here from you beginner to seasoned hunters.