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Backpacker Magazine – November 2010

How to Do Everything - The Survivor

Take care of yourself in the backcountry with these tips and laugh (or at least smile knowingly in the face of 10 common wilderness threats.

by: Kristin Bjornsen

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Where are they now? Cody Lundin
In September 1999, readers were fascinated by Lundin’s “heavy metal meets Native American” persona (“The Wisdom of Abo Dude”) and his philosophy: Train people to need less. Eleven years, two books, and a Discovery Channel program later, Lundin still barefoots around with long braids. His new television show, Dual Survival, pits a military scout’s skills with Lundin’s aboriginal ones. And he still teaches primitive survival skills (

Treat a snake bite
Buck Tilton, cofounder of the Wilderness Medicine Institute, has been on our masthead since 1989. In his Medicine Man column, he’s answered hundreds of questions—ranging from “How do I acclimatize to altitude?” (the #1 health question) to “What’s the green slime I’m vomiting up?” (bile, one result of starvation). But one query takes the cake:
“A guy emailed saying, ‘My son was bitten by a poisonous snake. What should I do?’ He’d driven from the trail to the first house. Is this a joke? I thought. Why ask me instead of going to a hospital? I told him: Remove anything that might cut off circulation if the bite swells, gently wash the wound, then splint the leg, keeping it at heart level. Drive ASAP to a medical facility. Don’t use a tourniquet or suck out venom like in olden days. Later, he replied that the doc had said his actions likely saved the kid’s life. I asked him, “Why me?” He said he’d searched for snakebites, ended up on, saw I was the Med Man, and contacted me.”

Dear Mr. Bear…’s Ask a Bear column receives every flavor of question, but most deal with what attracts bruins. Below is the rundown of some items you’ve inquired about. The bottom line? Store smelly items in a bear bag, canister, or locker. During an encounter, back away, slowly waving your arms and talking calmly and lowly. If Teddy attacks (very rare), fight a black bear, and play dead with a grizzly. (A * means maybe.)

  • Attracts Beer, bug spray, cigars, citronella, diapers, dryer sheets, food stains, mouthwash, sunscreen, toothpaste, used tampons*
  • Repels Bear spray, bells*, boat horn*, yodeling*
  • Neither Bedwetting, bleach, flashlights, flatulence, campfires, garlic, iPod music, snoring, squirt gun with ammonia, sex, Tasers

Feed me! This flub-up actually belongs to Yellowstone, which, until 1970, allowed food handouts (sadly, many habituated bruins died when the policy ended). Here, Gerald Howe, father of our Rocky Mountain editor, feeds a blackie on a 1950s family trip.

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Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Jun 11, 2013

Never lose your way or succumb to exposure just because you want to avoid the crowds on a glorious trail! Know how to find your way by reading "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon). Learn how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. A compass doesn't need satellites or batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart." The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. Learn how to stay found day or night by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. Learn what to pack for a day-hike, what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing just incase you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors.


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