Blog

Survivor v. Survivalist: What’s the Difference?

Survivor v. Survivalist: What's the Difference?

Going into it’s eleventh day, the manhunt continues for Eric Frein, the self-styled survivalist who ambushed two Pennsylvania State Troopers, killing one and injuring another, then apparently slipped into the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania to escape.  In addition to the swarm of state and federal law enforcement officers intensely searching for Frein, there is a swarm of media in the vicinity intensely searching for any information that may help the general public better understand, not just the mind of this killer, but for how long he may be able to avoid arrest.  As a result, my telephone has been repeatedly ringing almost everyday for a week as journalists from across the state and country ask for my “expert” opinion about the manhunt, in particular, what skills it takes a “survivalist” to successfully hide and evade.  I detest the term survivalist. Before I explain, though, let me make two points clear, just as […]

Read more

Bees, Hornets & Allergies … What Do I Do?

Bees, Hornets & Allergies ... What Do I Do?

Bees, yellow jackets, hornets and other insects that bite or sting have been in the back of my mind all Summer.  So as the season wanes, I thought that I would finally share with you a few thoughts and pieces of information that you might find helpful when you are out on your next outdoor adventure.  This way, you will be better prepared to keep yourself, and others, safe. Now, don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been thinking of them because I am particularly fearful of insects, I’m not.  In fact, I am fascinated by bees and love to closely watch them flit from one wildflower in my backyard to another.  In turn, considering the huge number of folks who play outside, few are actually stung, and even fewer suffer any life-threatening effects.  However, I must admit that even that one isolated sting or bite can suddenly have a huge impact on your […]

Read more

Rare Opportunity: A First-Hand Survival Account

Rare Opportunity: A First-Hand Survival Account

Do you really want to know what it takes to survive? Do you want to listen from a first-hand account?  Then join me on August 25 at 7:00 p.m. for a truly rare chance to listen to a story that will not only inspire you, but could also help to protect your life one day. During his lecture, On the Ledge: Surviving Six Days in No Man’s Canyon, David Cicotello will discuss the events of March 2011 in a Utah slot canyon that left him to spend six days alone on a ledge following a climbing accident that sadly killed his brother, Louis. The lecture will be held at REI Settlers Ridge, located in Robinson Township, just south of Pittsburgh. While it is free, space is limited.  Out of the initial 40 slots, just 22 were left this morning when I registered … and I just took two of them. Topics […]

Read more

Are You Ready for a Challenge?

Are You Ready for a Challenge?

Anyone who regularly reads my blogs knows already that I am not a fan of “reality” television, particularly those focusing on wilderness survival.  After all, reality television is not reality.  At best, it’s entertainment, plain and simple.  At worst, it can get someone, who attempts to replicate what they have “learned” while watching it, hurt, even killed.  Sadly, this has already occurred in at least a few instances over the years because viewers sometimes don’t appreciate how reckless the so-called expert is being, or that the scenario presented has in fact been manipulated for effect.  Happily, though, there are exceptions. When created and presented in the proper spirit, television programs can be a wonderful supplement to actual hands-on learning, particularly from a qualified instructor.  For example, I must admit that I respect Les Stroud of Survivorman, and I especially like watching Animal Planet’s I Shouldn’t be Alive series, which provides a pretty fair account and analysis of […]

Read more

Camping & Safety

Camping & Safety

I just spent a very nice morning with a group of wonderfully energetic children from Tender Care Learning Center in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.  The goal of the workshop was to provide them an introduction to camping and safety. Aged between 7 and 10 years old, the kids learned about the parts of a tent and how to set it up.  Then, they all spent some time crawling in and out … which I think they all thought was the best part of the program! Then we talked about what to do should they every become lost in the woods.  First and foremost, they learned about the importance of carrying a whistle and how to properly blow it.  They I should them how to use a plastic trash bag as shelter.  Hopefully, they will never need to use these skills, but should they ever become separated from there family, they’ll be better prepared.

Read more

Lightning & Water Safety

Lightning & Water Safety

The Summer is a particularly wonderful time to head out on to the water in a kayak or canoe, but it brings up a safety issue that confuses many … What do I do if I hear thunder, or, worse, see lighting? To start, get off of the water at the first sound of thunder or lightning.  Even if the storm looks to be far away, lightening can still be a real life threat.  After all, by the simple nature of your activity, you are most likely going to be the highest point around and as the National Weather Service reports the “vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths” that occur on boats involve small ones “with NO cabin.”  Also, while I’ve read studies that indicate that most lightning strikes occur within a 3-5 mile range, I’ve also read others that indicate that it is not unusual for lightning  to travel 10-20 miles […]

Read more

First Aid Skill: PRICE

First Aid Skill: PRICE

In any kind of wilderness medical training course, whether it is geared towards the lay provider or the professional one, I have often found that students are most interested in, and most focused on, learning how to treat dramatic injuries.  So topics that include broken extremities, wild animal attacks, tension pneumothorax, dysentery, and cholera, amongst a long list of others, tend to get the most attention and session time.  Not that I am inadvertently casting stones … Heck, my favorite lesson lately was about the field-expedient amputation and disarticulation.  But the simple fact of the matter is that in a wilderness setting, it is the “boring” injuries and illnesses that are the most common.  For this reasons, then, most of my time and effort is spent continuing to learn about and refresh my skills concerning the basics. Since research consistently shows that in the out of doors sprains and strains are […]

Read more

True North on Television!

True North on Television!

True North is very pleased to announce that it was featured yesterday in a two part story on KDKA News. After spending two days with reporter, David Highfield, and cameraman, Ian Smith, a few weeks ago (about which you can read in a previous blog, “True North prepares for Television“), the story finally aired in a two part series.  The first, during the 5:00 hour, showed David tagging along with a group of students during a “Basic Wilderness Survival” course as he learned about survival training.  Then, in the second piece which aired at 11:00, David worked to demonstrate some of his new found skills … including starting a fire as it rained! Anyway, you can just watch for yourself by clicking on the following two links: 1. Teaser (that ran throughout the day leading up to broadcasts) 2. Broadcast (David’s article includes the two video links) Thank you, David and Ian, […]

Read more

True North prepares for Television!

True North prepares for Television! Read more

Free Lecture – Packing Healthy Food for the Great Outdoors

Free Lecture - Packing Healthy Food for the Great Outdoors

True North is very pleased to announce an upcoming lecture by Adam Haritan of Wild Foodism, which will be hosted by Whole Foods Market in Pittsburgh.  This free event will be held on Thursday, May 29 from 6:30-8:00. A successful outdoor adventure involves not only quality gear, but quality food too.  Most trail food products, however, are expensive, and they contain high amounts of sodium, sugar, and preservatives.  Adam, who is an experienced backpacker and graduate of True North’s “Basic Wilderness Survival” course, will discuss alternative strategies for preparing and packing cost-effective healthy food that provides ample fuel and nutrients – without sacrificing taste and pleasure.  Other topics to be explored include the value of wild food foraging, backpacking with only three key foods, and locating and harvesting clean spring water.  This is a class all backpackers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts won’t want to miss! While this event is free, space […]

Read more