Letter Re: Bug Out Contingency Planning

[Introductory note from JWR: I normally send detailed letter replies only to their intended recipients, but in this case, I thought that this letter was a great example of terrain and obstacle analysis,a s well as “outside the box” planning, so I’m positing it for the entire SurvivalBlog readership to ponder. Do you have similar plans for off-road mobility, and contingency plans, folks?]

Mr. Rawles,
A note for Diane about her relative living on-post at Fort Riley, Kansas: First thing to obtain if you want to bug out of Ft. Riley is to get a Kansas Atlas & Gazetteer map book from DeLorme. [JWR Adds: These books are a key tool for “Get Out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) planning. Get one of these for your state, and if your intended retreat is in another state, for any states in-between!]

I trained for some years on the Ft. Riley reservation, lived in Kansas and have canoed many streams in the area. I have these comments on how to get out of that location.

The Ft. Riley Military Reservation is bounded on it western side by the very large Milford Lake. The water body of this lake is 14+ miles long and has a wildlife area upstream that extends some 5 to 6 miles north to Boughton, Kansas. At Boughton you can access a good Highway that will take you to Clay Center then west on Highway 24 to get across the Republican river.
Only one road crosses the lake body proper at Wakefield [Highway 82]. The river running into the lake is the Republican River. It is runs through an area of heavy soils making the banks steep, the bottom of the river soft and the stream depth non-fordable. To ford this river channel without a bridge you would have to travel many miles upstream approaching Cloud County Kansas [county seat Concordia] where the river changes from a deep soil bed to a sandy bed. Even in this area no one crosses the river in a four wheeled vehicle. ATVs do, but it is just too soft and sandy. I worked for the Department of Agriculture in this area and am very familiar with the farm community and the river channel areas, as a hunter. The transition zone from solid soils to sand is rather mucky.
I have canoed much of the river from well above Concordia to near the lake. Other than the road crossing at Wakefield and the southern end of the dam where Highway 244 skirts below the dam the west side of Ft. Riley is only a restricted bug out route because of the few escape routes. Near Salina Kansas the is the junction of the Solomon River [consisting upriver of two large streams, the north fork and the south fork]; the Saline River and the Smoky Hill River. Saline is west of Ft. Riley. At Ft. Riley the Republican River joins this conglomeration of rivers that come together at Saline to form the Kansas, River. This river is big. You will not cross unless you can find a bridge. This river runs west to east for many miles and gets much bigger the further east you go. Bugging out south of Ft. Riley is possible only if the Highways are clear to get across this river system.
Consult your maps for details.

There are large tracts of land south and southeast of Junction City, the southern portal to Ft. Riley that do not have a fully-developed [typical Plains state township] mile on mile road grid system.
Why? It is range land supporting large ranches. The roads were never built on a grid in this area. It has restricted assess to state Highways and county farm to market roads only. Consult your maps.
Unless the major Highways are open to the south it is a restricted zone for escape some 15 miles south and 20 miles east due to the lack of a road grid system.

Yes, I-70 does run by the south. A good exit if it is open. To the east is the large metropolitan city of Manhattan. It is a block if you want to bug out to the east. North and further NE of Ft. Riley is the huge Tuttle Creek lake some 16 miles long with its accompanying wildlife land area extending another five miles or so upriver. It is a huge block to getting out east or NE. Only one road crosses the lake on the dam [Highway 13].

The only well developed open grid section of mile on mile of county roads and state Highways is north. The Ft. Riley Military Reservation is some 14 mile long to the north. There is a military road system through this area. This road system is accessible from the bedding area for troops on Custer Hill–or it was some years ago. Check this out.

The huge training area north of Ft. Riley is, or was controlled from a single building called “Range Control”. The assignment and use of the training areas was scheduled from this area. They monitor the areas mostly by radio. My suggestion is to get a military map of Ft. Riley with the range control markings showing the designations of each of the training areas. They all have numbers.
Now, since I was there a large construction and upgrading has proceeded at the tank gunnery range. But in an emergency I would think military families wanting to exit through the training areas to Bala Kansas and Riley Kansas or to get to the Highway to Milford would be possible. [JWR Adds: It also bears mentioning that artillery range impact areas are to be avoided at all times, since they are often littered with unexploded ordnance (UXO). Most of the “back gates” of large military reservations are kept locked and often unmanned except during major field training exercises (FTXes). In genuine “worst case” times of Deep Drama, a large pair of bolt cutters may be an indispensable friend of last resort. Before taking such extreme measures, however, consider that cutting the last link on a chain on such a gate is a Federal crime! Bolt cutters are a crucial tool that every well-prepared family should own, for many purposes.]

Note: large areas of the north are tank training areas. There are trails there marked tank trail. Under no circumstances try to negotiate a tank trail in a civilian vehicle. You will become mired down in no time. I have driven M60 tanks and tracked bridge units all the way from the bird bath to tank training headquarters. Trust me on this. I have seen tanks mired down on those trails that looked like it was going to take an act of God to get them out.

Ft. Riley present a core of access problems anyone wanting to bug out from there. It is possible if you make a good plan. Have the maps. And please, in advance drive all the routes to familiarize yourself with them. Most of all explore the roads through the training areas. Visit Range Control and talk to the people there and get a map of the military reservation area. [JWR Adds: This can often be done on the pretense of scouting a hunt, since some military training areas are open for specific hunting seasons.] Make a plan! Cordially, – JWC in Oklahoma