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Outdoor Gear … Consider Renting

Outdoor Gear ... Consider Renting

I have long been a bit conflicted about the huge array of gear and clothing that retail stores — nowadays almost exclusively dominated by “big box” stores — sell to all skills levels of outdoors people at fairly astonishing prices.  I suppose that what most bothers me is the disconnect between the gear that we need  (perhaps better defined as the gear that we are told, or believe, that we “need”) just to enter the Great Outdoors.  To me, the Great Outdoors should be the great equalizer where everyone, regardless of skill level and wallet or purse size, can experience and share the beauty and wonder of our natural world. Still, I accept that having proper gear and clothing can make this experience not just more safe, but more comfortable.  Heck, let’s face it, not having a tent, or a cheap one at that, or an inappropriate sleeping bag, on a […]

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Blisters – Prevention & Treatment

Blisters - Prevention & Treatment

As part of our everyday lives in our front-country worlds, blisters on our feet are not that big of a deal.  That’s because you probably rarely get them, and, if you do, they are usually easy to remedy and protect.  In fact, they are likely little more than an inconvenience. However, in a backcountry setting, you will definitely view blisters from a completely different perspective.  To write that they are “painful,” as many of you would likely agree, is more than an understatement.  Not only can they can easily ruin an otherwise wonderful day of hiking, but at worst, they can be truly debilitating. So, rather than risk letting the time, effort, and money that you spent preparing for your much anticipated hike go to waste, I thought that I would share with you two related articles from Wilderness Medicine magazine which is published by the Wilderness Medical Society.  After all, I believe […]

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Using the Outdoors to Find Your Bearings

Using the Outdoors to Find Your Bearings

Usually at some point while teaching a wilderness survival course, I explain to a class that the skills and knowledge that they are acquiring isn’t just limited to dealing with an emergency situation in a remote outdoors location.  Their wilderness survival ability is also applicable to Life in general. That’s because survival isn’t really so much about how much gear that you have in your backpack, or how much specialized training that you have.  Rather, in any survival situation, it’s what’s in your head and heart that most matters. So if you want to be a good survivor, and even test your chances of being one, oftentimes you can just look to see how you are “surviving” in your daily life.  This may sound odd, but the simple truth is that the hardships that we sometimes experience in our daily lives — whether being laid off unexpectedly from a job; being diagnosed […]

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CNN Interviews True North

CNN Interviews True North

Last Friday, CNN news anchor, Brooke Baldwin, again interviewed True North’s own Erik Kulick on her program Newsroom.  This time, she wanted to ask about his thoughts concerning the rescue of Louis Jordan, the sailor who was rescued one day earlier, approximately 200 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, after apparently spending 66 days lost at sea in a sailboat. Given that this admittedly inexperienced sailor showed none of the expected hallmarks of a castaway, like severe sunburn, blisters, profound dehydration, and weight loss — not too mention that both of Jordan’s shoulders appeared remarkably normal considering that he stated to the U.S. Coast Guard that he had broken his shoulder early on in a storm — the media grew skeptical as the story developed. So Brooke spoke to Erik to ask his opinion about Jordan’s account. Just below, then, is a transcript of their talk.  And if you like, you can watch […]

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Congratulations Survival Grads

Congratulations Survival Grads

True North is really proud to welcome our newest survival graduates who completed our Basic Wilderness Survival (BWS) course this weekend.  Some might think that this was some simple Spring camping trip, but, trust me, they’d be wrong … definitely wrong. After all, Winter would better describe the conditions!  This crew of four not only arrived bright and early at the trailhead, despite ample snow on the ground at Quebec Run Wild Area in the Laurel Highlands and the forecast upcoming overnight low temperature of 14 degrees, but they put their nervousness and physical discomfort aside to work hard all day, laughing and smiling throughout.  Even when they emerged from their tents the next morning with frost on their hats (where it had actually hit 12 degrees overnight) they continued to amply demonstrate positive mental attitude — the hallmark of the survivor — at its finest. We enjoyed a wonderfully diverse group who took our BWS […]

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True North Announces New Partnership

True North Announces New Partnership

True North Wilderness Survival School is proud to officially announce that it is partnering with the Allegheny County Parks Department to run a series of outdoor education programs throughout 2015.  The schedule will include courses in wilderness survival, land navigation, and first-aid, to name just a few. These events will help to meet several goals all around, but, more importantly, will offer many benefits to the Western Pennsylvania region. ACPD is eager to develop and manage programs that will help contribute to its mission of enhancing the quality of life and well being of the residents of Allegheny County by showcasing the beauty and diversity of its extensive park system, while also offering outdoor educational opportunities that will help foster a deeper respect for the conservation of its natural and cultural resources. In turn, True North is excited at the prospect of working with a broader range of outdoor enthusiasts to help develop […]

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Emergency Water Sources

Emergency Water Sources

In a wilderness emergency, especially one in which you suspect that you may not be rescued within 72 hours, potable water can be critical to your survival.  This is because by that point – perhaps even sooner depending upon certain factors like the weather, your level of physical exertion, and medical condition – your bodily functions begin to become impeded and your mental status impaired. So, while you may have the necessary equipment to filter and purify water, you have to first find it. Can you? Just in case you are uncertain, let me share with you a few ideas and tips to consider. Where to Look Here are a few suggestions on finding sources of water: Keep in mind the basic truism that water doesn’t flow uphill or run along the top of ridgelines, so you’ll have much better luck looking in low spots, like valleys and drainages. There, not only […]

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Staying Warm on a Cold Night

Staying Warm on a Cold Night

Speaking from experience, it’s seems that whenever one has to suddenly deal with an unexpected problem, rarely does it occur in perfect conditions.  This, most especially, when it involves the outdoors.  So, in this vein, my mind regularly ponders varying ways and means to effectively stay warm if one of my “day hikes” should ever turn into a overnight.  Out of this, then, let me share with you a product that you may want to consider adding to you gear inventory. Now, of course, whenever I head out into the woods on some adventure, I am properly prepared to meet my seven priorities of survival — in particular, Priority #3 Shelter — but my concern is that even if I can protect myself from the wind and rain, it may still be hard to stay warm. Build a fire, right? Building a fire to dovetail with my shelter seems to be a […]

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Preparation: The Key to Dealing with an Emergency

Preparation: The Key to Dealing with an Emergency

As I regularly explain to our students in our wilderness survival and medicine courses, one doesn’t need to be an Army Ranger or a medical professional to benefit from these types of emergency training.  After all, whether it’s a mountain top, a state park, a roadside accident, or a burning building, each of us may still at any moment be called upon to protect ourselves or the lives of others from some threat.  Then, thereafter, we may need to live with the consequences of our action or inaction — Or, heck, perhaps we won’t live. At the moment of truth, it really doesn’t matter so much the size of your backpack, the fancy equipment in it, or your general professional training (I’ve heard of a group cardiologists who froze when a colleague collapsed of a cardiac arrest during a conference).  Rather it is your head and heart that most matters. So […]

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Our Newest WFA Providers!

Our Newest WFA Providers!

On behalf of True North, I am really pleased to announce our newest group of certified Wilderness First Aid (WFA) providers.  Travelling from as far away as Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and representing a diverse mix of backgrounds including an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), an outdoor educator, and a geologist, the group all shared the same desire to learn how to stabilize, assess, and treat patients in wilderness or other austere locations when frontcountry help isn’t immediately available. After they learned the fundamentals of keeping themselves safe while properly assessing a patient, they learned such important topics as dealing with traumatic injuries, environmental issues, like hypothermia and hyperthermia, and a mix of medical problems.  Then they ended the course by running through an involved scenario — with four of the best “patients” around! — that tested their newly acquired skills and knowledge. I want to thank each of them for all of their […]

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