Monday, July 26, 2010

Survival of the Fittest...Or the Most Prepared?

There are a lot of shows on TV these days focusing on survival tactics. From extreme heat to extreme cold, from inner city riots to post-apocalyptic scenarios, cable television plays out over and over again the basic needs of survival.

Most of the survival situations come upon us unannounced - for example, a vehicle breaks down in the desert or a plane crashes into the water. Most of them we cannot relate to, and hopefully will never have to recall them.

However, we often put ourselves into (albeit less) dangerous situations on our planned outdoor excursions without even realizing it.

Like last week, for example, I decided to bike about halfway back from our hiking trip. I had my husband drop me and my bike off on the side of the road when we reached six miles from home.

"Are you sure?" He asked me worriedly. "Its pretty windy out today."

"I'll be fine," I nearly scoffed back at him. "We do six all the time and this is all flat this way!"

He drove off in his truck, I put my helmet and backpack on, and followed on my bike. Within minutes the truck was far from sight down the long country back road. The wind, however, was brutal.

Determined not to give in, I pedaled on. I was thrilled when I found the street that marked my halfway point, because it meant I'd be turning south and finally have the wind at my back. Only as I pedaled further after the turn, I realized - this wasn't the right road.

I was close to home, so I was not lost. I knew exactly where I was. I also knew the road I was on and the road going home did NOT meet. At all. The road I was on led to a busy, busy highway with a shoulder just wide enough for Evel Knievel to ride his bike along next to the speeding semi-trucks.

And I wasn't him.

My six mile ride home turned into a nine mile ride home, of which one half mile was ridden on lawns and fields along the above mentioned highway to avoid the shoulder catastrophe. So it also, besides growing in length, turned into a mountain bike ride.

It was a hot sunny day, but I had a backpack full of water, graham crackers, and fruit snacks. I had a helmet and a cell phone and identification. The most danger I was in was having to face the embarrassment of calling my husband and admitting to him what I did wrong on the ride.

However, had I left without my phone, or without water and snacks, it could've been another story altogether. If I had been hit by a car and didn't have my wallet, how would they know who I was? Or who to call?

If I didn't come home on time, where would my husband look for me? Certainly not on the roads I was on. If I was smart, I would've called or texted him an update. I could've said I had plenty of energy and was taking the long way - to avoid the embarrassment - instead of hiding in shame and risking the highway without anyone knowing I was even on it!

My friend and I went hiking the other day, and I brought four water bottles total for myself and my two kids, plus water in the cooler in the car to refill. She brought two water bottles for herself and three kids.


Often we purposely put ourselves into situations where we could dehydrate, get poison ivy, get lost, get injured, all for the sake of having fun while staying fit. It makes sense to at least carry a small bag of gear to deal with these things or avoid them completely.

We need to have fun, be brave, get fit, explore. But we need to be prepared!

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