In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. ~Charles Lindbergh
Getting off the beaten path can be a wonderful experience, but one that can hold some risk. Sometimes, when people venture off the beaten path, they have a hard time finding their way back. You can do your venturing with greater safety and confidence if you bring with you some basic survival gear, and more importantly, the knowledge and skills to handle a wilderness emergency.
Randy Gerke’s Outdoor Survival Guide provides techniques and strategies for surviving a whole variety of wilderness emergencies, including injuries, avalanches, animal encounters, and of course getting lost. The survival skills section covers everything you need: water, food, shelter, fire, and navigation skills to find your way back. There are ideas here I hadn’t encountered in other survival books, like using a winter tree pit, the depression that forms around the base of trees, as the start of a shelter. Our local ski area warns people to stay clear of these, but in an emergency, they could make a very logical winter shelter.
Gerke has taught such skills to an impressive list of clients that include the Department of Energy, US Air Force, US Navy, Homeland Security, and the FAA.
Along with being thorough and well written, this guide has understandable illustrations and a full-color edible wild plant section, in the center of the book.
In my own book and articles I’ve written, I emphasize the benefits of venturing out to connect with nature. It is well worth your time to learn how to venture deeper into the wilderness and get home safely. This book is a great step towards acquiring the skills you need.
Some of my favorite experiences are the hiking and backpacking trips I’ve made into the North Cascades mountains. Each time I set out, even if it’s for a short day-hike, I get a weather forecast, avalanche report (if it’s winter), carry the Mountaineers 10 Essentials, and bring with me some knowledge regarding what to do in an emergency. By taking these steps, I feel at home in remote and beautiful places, and I hope that you will too.