Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Outdoor living: Be Prepared!

If you love the outdoors, you know it can be a challenge when weather hits. Forecasts predict inches upon inches of snow or rain. Wind gusts happen. Summer camping has different considerations than winter camping, depending on what part of the country you are in however a few things never change.
Don't set camp under a leaning tree or dead A frame limb "widow maker" is a common nickname for these luring spots.
Washes are beautiful, often level in places but NEVER safe especially in the desert to set camp in. The storm that sets them rushing may hit in the mountains, sending unexpected water your way.
Never go without proper gear, this includes being ready for sudden wet or cold weather: last spring a storm hit while we climbed the flatirons in Arizona. The rock became slick, the wind cold and the snow was icy. Having warm, waterproof gear and flashlights- we could have gotten stuck until the rock was safe enough to traverse back down without risk of serious injury.
Speaking of that: there's no race, no reason to rush. You miss out on seeing and appreciating nature of you act like it's a secret speedway.
There's a time to be loud, it's when you're scaring off predators not disrupting wildlife. Quiet down out there, you wouldn't want nature coming in and having a house party in your living room!
Leave no trace, pick up your trash! Pick up trash you find and discard it where it belongs.

Weather considerations: high ground and tarps.
Tarps keep out the rain, the wind, and they offer privacy.
Where does water flow and drain? Be aware when you pick a place to camp. There's nothing worse than waking up feeling an inch of water flowing underneath the floor of your tent, seeping through to risk mold and mildew and health!
Pallets are a great way to get your tent up for drainage. Carpets and carpet padding make great insulation from the cold winter ground.
Get off the ground! Hammocks, cots, even mattresses whether air or full size will save you aches and pains and keep you from catching chill from the ground. Hammock users will want to use a sleeping pad to add insulation, while air mattress users will want to buffer by putting blankets or insulating layers between the floor and the mattress to keep them from cooling you down.
Tents can have lightweight blankets put up between fly and tent to trap extra warmth in.
Layer up! Soft merino wool, sheepskin, alpaca are all examples of ways to keep you toasty and warm despite the ice and snow outside your tent, yurt, tipi, hammock.
Portable propane heaters are great with proper ventilation.
Winter camping doesn't have to tax your health, if you prepare! Insulate your living space, never underestimate the value of a few hot hands packets and a good old fashioned hot water bottle in your bed!

Get outside sensibly, there is a special beauty to walking outside after a night of cold, wind and snow to look around and realize you had a cozy night and you're getting to see an amazing world.

I think about the winter I decorated Wax Hands at Castle Christmas. Taylor Grant made his booth a comfortable living space for us. Outside ice grew like blades of grass on tree branches and power lines. It was so cold outside, but in the shared living room: the beds were insulated with blankets, the walls as well, the heater was hot and we all had a great winter despite repeated ice storms. Oklahoma does win an award for the most extreme and unpredictable weather from ice storms to tornados they even outdo Texas.

Don't let weather be an excuse to avoid the outdoors, just prepare properly. Be ready and don't set yourself up for discomfort or unnecessary challenges. I think of a patron at an autumn renaissance festival coming in a tube dress with no coat, no socks, no shoes on a forty degree day. I stopped security to escort her to first aid when I saw her. Her skin was deep blue without cosmetics. It wasn't sexy. It was dangerous like going into the desert hiking without water dangerous. It was dangerous like "watch me pose for a selfie with this angry copperhead" dangerous. Avoidable.

Be considerate of wildlife. Have great adventures and safe travels everyone!