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RE: [pct-l] preparing for disaster

My "disaster" strategies change with what I'm doing.  When I am hiking with my kids it is quite similar to Tom's.

(1) We will hole up in dangerously bad weather, or even in miserable weather.  I very much want the kids to have fun, and hiking in miserable weather is not fun for them.  That doesn't mean we don't hike in the rain (we do), but I try to keep another option open.  Serious snow just hasn't ever come up, but we would hole up as soon as travel became difficult.

(2) I always carry a tent AND a tarp when I'm with my kids.  My experience (with my kids) is that they will hike in the rain, but they won't stand around in it.  The tarp lets me rig a quick shelter for lunch, camp, whatever so the kids don't have to stay in the tent.  I mostly try to keep the tent for sleeping in.

(3) My snakebite strategy is exactly the same as Tom's and for exactly the same reason.  I carry a Sawyer Extractor when I am hiking in rattlesnake country with my kids.  Rattlesnake bites are MUCH more dangerous to small people.

(4) I carry a wide spectrum antibiotic (I can't even remember what it is) for the same reason I think Tom does.  If I am several days from help and get a broken, dirty, tree branch stuck up my leg, I will start dosing with antibiotics right away.  I got the suggestion from (I think) "Wilderness Medicine", talked with my doctor, and got a prescription.  This is NOT about self treating minor infections or not going to the doctors.  This is emergency treatment for a life threatening situation when medical help is not available.

(5) I carry Tylenol 3 (Codine) for a serious painkiller.  I have never used it. 

(6) I carry raingear, as do the kids, but I tend to carry coated nylon stuff instead of Goretex.  With coated nylon I will get wet (from sweat), but I do stay warm.  Interestingly, I don't think kids sweat the way adults do... they don't even get wet in their raingear.  The kids have the Campmoor "Backpacker II" kids parkas and I can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Actually, this thread has been very useful to me.  I got the antibiotics and codine for ME on solo trips, and I just realized that I don't know appropriate dosages for the kids.  I never thought about it, because I haven't gone places that were that far from help with my children.  I need to make some calls!

When I am hiking alone my strategy is a little different.  I worry a lot less about comfort and do not always carry a tent.  I have used a tarp/bivy on a number of trips, and have started experimenting with tarps or even just a poncho (doing double duty).  A long backpackers poncho can be rigged as a suprisingly watertight shelter... the foot end is very low to the ground anyway, and the head end can easily be blocked with my pack.

I still plan to hole up in dangerous weather, but I'm quite happy hiking through heavy rain.  I just get wet and don't bother with raingear unless I start to get cold.  I always have an extra day or two worth of food and a set of dry clothes to change into.  One of the nice things about tarps, bivies, etc. as opposed to tents is that they require a lot less space to set up... I can almost always find a suitable tarp/bivy site, while suitable tent sites are rather harder to locate.

I try to plan my clothing so that I will be comfortable under expected conditions, and alive under extreme conditions.  My assumption, especially when solo traveling, is that I may have to rig a shelter anwhere, and that I may be injured or sick when doing so.  Of course, I could be so hurt (paralysed, unconscious, etc.) that I couldn't help myself, but the chances of that happening are pretty low.  And when I'm traveling by myself I tend not to climb out on wet rock ledges to peek over the edge.

Also, I think about whether I'll take my Sawyer Extractor on each trip.  Part of me thinks it is dead weight, and part of me remembers how close I came to stepping on a 3-4 foot Timber Rattler two years ago.

-- Jim
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