Expect To Self-Rescue

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Every year, thousands of search and rescue operations are conducted to return or recover the isolated, the injured, and the lost. People step off trail intentionally to snap a photo, take a break, or a short cut. One thing leads to another, and they become disoriented.

It happens to all of us in one setting or another. And the natural human tendency is to take action and tell ourselves we can get ourselves out of the situation. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that this over-confidence can lead to catastrophic results.

Unprepared – with no tent or warming layers, I set out in frigid temps (highly unadvised, btw) to survive the night without a fire, placing myself in the same dangerous conditions that many have faced in order to work through and process how to make it through.

The first step was to slow down my thinking, consider how much daylight is left, and find an area that where I could create a small base of operations. Due to the materials nearby, I opted to create a debris shelter. Rather than just use a bipod, I opted for a tripod because it would close up the opening and be better at heat retention. With nearly a foot of insulation between pine bows and moss, I then turned to orienting myself.

Clearly marking where I am with flagging tape, I ventured off in four directions, and marked as far as I could while still being able to see the base camp. Fortunately, I discovered a road – but if I hadn’t, I could have continued this process – moving further and further out until I found a resource to aid my self-rescue.

The temps dropped down to around 10 degrees, and the outside of my shelter was a balmy 3 degrees. Definitely cold enough to kill – but even in this dire situation, I was lucky. I had no precipitation, no wind, and the air was very dry. Not all are this lucky; however, I believe that in most situations, there is a way through, if we just stop – slow down – assess our situation, and come up with a plan that mitigates the risks and hazards we are facing.


The Rig, Flagging Tape, 550 Cord, Weather Meter, Silva Compass, Rite ’N Rain, Mora Knife, Signal Mirror, Flashlight, IR Beacon.


The Pack, Nalgene Water Bottle, LiteFighter Tarp, Commie Tear Container, Life Straw, Emergency Blanket, Multi-Tool, Headlamp

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