The idea of spontaneity is lurking inside of most adventurers. To be able to walk out of the office and release yourself into nature is a wonderful fantasy.
But there is a large concern with just spontaneously deciding to go on a walkabout. Going out into nature without having a plan or solid knowledge could mean more than just being stranded without food, it could be fatal. Here is a list of things to plan for before you set out on a wild adventure.
1. Tell Someone
One of the most dangerous things that any outdoor adventurer can do is leave on a hiking, backpacking, or camping trip without telling anyone where they are going. Even if it is an area you have been to hundreds of times and you feel confident about it, you still need to ensure someone knows where you have gone and when you should be returning. Then, if you are not back by the set time or date, your contact can tell search and rescue groups where you most likely are, increasing your chances of getting help when you need it.
2. Map it out
In 1992, a recent university graduate decided that he just wanted to immerse himself in the wilderness. While Chris McCandless’ story may seem like the ultimate wilderness adventure for many, one thing remains certain. When McCandless met his untimely death, he was not far from a bridge that could have prevented him from starving to death. He did not have a map of the area in Alaska he had ventured into and did not have enough savvy of nature to have survived when it could have otherwise been prevented.
Use McCandless as a cautionary tale; always have a map of where you are. Even if it is an area that you may have good knowledge about, weather or other encounters may force you to change trail and go somewhere you haven’t been before.
It is not a good idea to carry pounds of water for hours on end if you are not going to drink it all, but at the same time, venturing without any food or water would be far worse. Plan how many days your adventure should take and make sure you have the right supplies for all of the days you are going to be out. Mapping out where the streams are to replenish your water supply is also a good plan and can lighten the load on your back. Take into consideration as well where you plan on sleeping to ensure you have what you need for a safe night.
4. Don’t overestimate yourself
Perhaps you saw a reality show where someone was out in the wild without any preparation of supplies. Or maybe you saw some kill and dress a deer on television and you think that you should be able to perform the same act yourself. The issue is that television should never be treated as a reality.
Remember that reality television stars have a camera crew following them, so help is always available if they need it. And watching an expert perform a task does not thereby make you an expert at the same task. Know your limits and learn the pieces you are missing. Do not just wing it based off of something you have seen.
Preparation does not mean that the thrill of spontaneity needs to die. It means that there is a less chance of you dying yourself out in the wilderness. Have fun, but always use common sense before making your way on a whirlwind woodland adventure.
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