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Update – Lexi DeForest

Update - Lexi DeForest

Do you remember Lexi DeForest?  In case you don’t, she is the Colorado State University student who in late August made a video of herself while she laid waiting (painfully) for a Search and Rescue team in a remote section of Wyoming after severely breaking her ankle.  For more information about what happened, please read our original post. Anyway, about a month after her accident, Lexi posted another video.  In it, she provides more information about what caused her to fall and the effort involved afterwards to rescue her.  Like the first one, this video offers us all many great lessons — Chief of which is the power of positive mental attitude.  Happily, Lexi appears to be doing amazingly well. Check it out for yourself:

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The Survival Knife: Which One for You?

The Survival Knife: Which One for You?

For anyone who spends time in the outdoors, arguably, one of the most important items to consider having with you is a knife.  It can certainly be handy as an all-around tool, but, more to the point, it plays a vital role in your survival pack.  After all, preparation is a key component to best responding to an acute emergency situation and a knife can help you more easily do 1,001 things.  So, spending a little time considering which knife can best serve your personal tastes, your chosen outdoor activity, your potential needs, while not burning a hole in your wallet, can pay off huge dividends.  Let me, then, offer you a few thoughts which you might find helpful to get your started. A survival knife isn’t just used for cutting.  In a survival situation, you will most likely also be using your knife to pry, pound, chop, dig, scrap, […]

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Equipment Review: The BioLite “CampStove”

Equipment Review: The BioLite "CampStove"

I came across a product about six months ago that I thought might be very useful in the backcountry, but, since I was busy with other projects, I filed it away with the genuine intent of reexamining it later when I had some more time.  However, after watching repeated news updates about the sufferings of residents in the metropolitan New York City region following Superstorm Sandy a few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to pull out that file and take another look.  The product is the CampStove by BioLite. Initially, my problem was needing to recharge my iPhone while on extended courses or outings.  I am not an active technology user, especially in the woods, but I have  found that a smartphone can be a terrific safety and teaching device.  Before I even venture out, alone or with a group, I use various applications to check such things as […]

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Are You Prepared for a “Day Hike”?

Are You Prepared for a "Day Hike"?

While a terrific bunch of folks from Venture Outdoors met in Frick Park with instructors from True North last weekend to learn the basics of dealing with wilderness emergencies, a man in Orgeon started out on a day-hike.  Unlike the VO group, however, this lone hiker apparently wasn’t as concerned about the possibility of unforeseen dangers, or being prepared for them.  At one point, to stay warm, he actually lit his hat and backpack on fire! Earlier in the day, the hiker had set out along a trail (apparently with no map) near the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon that he once followed seven years earlier.  Dressed only in jeans, a cotton tee-shirt, and a windbreaker jacket, he realized by 5:00 pm that he was lost.  Not knowing the time of sunset, he was surprised by the onset of darkness and he had no flashlight.  At 5:40 pm he contacted […]

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Wilderness Survival 101

Wilderness Survival 101

Yesterday was splendid.  Not only was it the most beautiful Autumn day so far this year, with the sun finally bursting out in the late morning, helping temperatures to settle in the low 60s, but a terrific bunch of people gathered at the Frick Environmental Center to share their enthusiasm for learning the fundamentals of wilderness survival. The group, all members of Venture Outdoors, took part in True North’s Wilderness Survival 101.  The primary focus of WS101 is to offer a one-day introduction to the basics of wilderness survival.  It is a great way for folks to begin learning about survival philosophy, skills, and what is involved.  It is particularly nice too for those folks who aren’t quite ready for an overnight, or who are just getting involved in the outdoors and want to learn about gear and local resources.  Either way, beginner or advanced, we always talk about the […]

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Improvisation: The Lifeblood of Survival

Improvisation: The Lifeblood of Survival

This past summer on an EMS call, a paramedic taught me a simple, but important, lesson.  We needed to move a patient from her bed to our stretcher, which we had momentarily left in the foyer, for transport to the hospital.  However, since her bedroom was so tightly packed with furniture, and hallway access to it was also too tight and limited, we weren’t able to bring the stretcher the rest of the way to her bedside.  I assumed, then, I would need to make a run to the ambulance to grab another piece of equipment that is specifically engineered to be used in such instances.  However, the medic simply asked me to grab a sheet off the stretcher.  A sheet?  What good, I thought, could a sheet possibly do us now?  When I handed it to him, he unfolded the sheet next to her, and gently helped her slide […]

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Tourniquet: Fact v. Fiction

Tourniquet: Fact v. Fiction

Recently, I was reading a popular wilderness first-aid handbook that is used to trained thousands of Americans each year and one of the sections really bothered me.  In its outline of how to control severe bleeding, it indicated that a tourniquet is used “only” as a last resort since it may “cause gangrene” and “may require surgical amputation of the limb.”  The handbook also advises that in the event that a tourniquet must be used, that it should be loosened in “five minute” intervals to check if bleeding has stopped and to “allow some blood flow” to the affected limb.  Sounds reasonable enough, right?  Except that it isn’t accurate. According to much medical evidence, the reality is that a tourniquet, used by a trained wilderness first-aid provider, may, in fact, be the initial method of bleeding control in severe extremity bleeding. Much of what the medical community now knows about the […]

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Erik’s Top 10 Recommended Reading

Erik's Top 10 Recommended Reading

If you are looking for a terrific story about a true survival situation, then Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand, is for you. Hillenbrand tells the true story of Louis Zamperini who, while serving aboard a bomber during World War II, crashed into the Pacific while searching for another missing plane from his squadron.  If spending 47 days at sea with two other surviving crew members in a life raft with no supplies wasn’t bad enough, Zamperini was then captured by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war in a series of POW camps suffering (to put it mildly) intense physical and psychological abuse.  And it wasn’t just Zamperini who demonstrated the most amazing character and will to endure, but dozens of other Allied servicemen, including a handful of Japanese guards who risked much to protect them when they could. Why do I read such books?  Besides the fact that I […]

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Which Way is North?

Which Way is North?

Being lost … to put it mildly … sucks.  I know.  I’ve been there.  Hopefully, I won’t be returning any time soon. To help keep you from making the same visit, or, at least, to help you keep it as short as possible, I want to call your attention to a small “road sign” that might someday point you towards the right path. But, first, a little background information … Of all of the many stressors that one may suffer in the backcountry, being lost is near the top of the list.  Certainly, it can be a complicating factor, making an already difficult situation worse.  More to the point, though, being lost often forges the first link in a chain of seemingly insignificant and unrelated events that leads to crisis. Why? Because being lost really doesn’t have so much to do with our physical position as it does with our […]

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Pittsburgh’s Newest City Park

Pittsburgh's Newest City Park

It seems that no matter how long that I have lived in Pittsburgh, the city and its region continues to surprise me.  When I originally moved here, my plan was to stay just two years so that I could complete graduate school.  Then skedaddle.  Twenty-two years later, I am still here.  And I am still making surprising discoveries that remind me of how glad that I am that I stayed. Case in point: Emerald View Park.  Pittsburgh’s newest addition to its family of parks. Even though Emerald View wraps along Mount Washington for the whole world to see, I only just discovered the park this past Sunday thanks to Jennifer Brown and David Bennet of Venture Outdoors.  Jen and David are, like me, members of the Venture Outdoors “Trip Leader Council,” which is comprised of eleven volunteers, with varying skills and specialities, who work to help develop and promote programming for […]

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