(Continued for Part 1. This concludes the article.)
I was consistent with daily hikes using them for recon practice, making maps, taking notes of locations and observing any nearby people. Judging who I thought may be friends or foes. I did take note of two males in their 20’s who appeared fairly intoxicated early in the afternoon. I hiked for the benefits of physical exercise and enjoyed the quite beauty of the land.
There were several memorable hikes. The day time temperatures were now in the upper 80’s. I wore Timberline hiking boots and stripped down to shorts. Finally found some warm sunshine. Walking alone along Granite mountain, poking the brush, crevices and in the shadows with my walking stick before stepping or reaching in with a hand. Mostly because I read to do that.
One poke hit something soft that made a rattle. Startled, I immediately shifted my feet back and away from the noise. I kept all my pressure on that soft body with my walking stick. My heart was racing. I never saw the snake but hearing & feeling it was plenty. Again, more prayers of an isolated snake encounter.
This could have been life-threatening. At any time, a snake bite is a game changer. I’ve carried a snake bite kit with me for years just because, well because, I’m a Prepper. I am so thankful that I didn’t need it. Prior to leaving Montana, for the first time ever, I actually took my snake bite kit apart and applied it to my arm as a mock trial. My friend’s 12 year old son got a great giggle at how much of my skin was pulled up through the syringe. He also was the one who showed me how to set up my butane camping stove quicker.
I constructed my walking stick several years ago out of 1 1/4 inch PVC pipe, drilled a hole in the distal end cap and glued a short Philips screwdriver with the shaft protruding out. It acts as a probe, weapon, even a screw driver. I also have made several with a traditional rubber end cap for pavement and smooth surfaces.
I fill my walking stick with glow sticks, fishing line, lures and AAA batteries. It has a leather strap with add’l cordage for the handle and it’s wrapped in camo duct tape. The end cap, by the handle of course is not sealed to access my internal supplies. It’s inexpensive and a practical way to carry supplies.
I kept traveling South towards Phoenix, camping and applying for jobs. I had several unsuccessful phone interviews. I utilized several public libraries to fax resumes, charge my phone, laptop and batteries Check out your library, amazing resources, free or inexpensive with very helpful employees.
My funds & Spirit were being drained. I was eating my stores of Mountain House food and didn’t have any job offers. I was getting lonely and my funds were being spent.
Desert camping is challenging in many ways. For me, first was water. I bought cases of bottled water and always had one or two in my truck. Luckily I had my vehicles and didn’t have to pack my water. I have two water filtering kits, a filtering straw and four bottles of purification tablets. I took special care to always camp by lakes.
Another challenge to desert camping is fire. One SurvivalBlog writer had given advice on using the TP cardboard centers stuffed with dryer lint to use as a fire starter. I expanded that idea, used a plastic container, ie: empty peanut butter jar. Filled it with paper, small dry tinder, matches and a lighter. I used several throughout the month as my fire starters. Aside from keeping my tinder dry the plastic containers have multiple uses. Easy and very inexpensive.
A final challenge for my desert camping was BMs. Easy enough to dig a hole and go. We all know toilet paper is extremely valuable and difficult to substitute. There are alternatives to TP. I used one of my solar hot water showers with diluted soap and sprayed cleaned. I also used a designated peri bottle w/diluted bentadine, air drying afterwards.
I made two other stops, at the Lost Dutchman and Apache Junction RV sites. City life again, electric and hot showers. I treated my self to another all you can eat buffet although my pants were looser that when I had left Montana.
Aside from a few buffets, I ate one meal a day. I fasted every 3rd or 4th day for several reasons. First, I don’t have a medical condition that fasting would be harmful, ie: diabetes. Second, I used fasting as a method of detoxing. I drank water and juice while sweating in the desert. Third, fasting simulated a grid down situation of limited food. Being hungry alters your normal thinking and changes priorities. I lost a few pounds. Fourth, I saved money from not purchasing food and used less of my stored supplies. If you want to fast, common sense dictates you take up this idea with your family MD. You do have one, don’t you?
I had a pattern, once I set up a base camp I would explore the new areas on my Harley. Wonderful adventures, except for one time. The smoke from the California wildfires had blown in. My eyes were tearing and burning. I stopped at a four way and while turning right, my front tire dropped down four inches into a metal grated storm drain.
My 2008 Road King weighs 875 lb. It was slowly tipping over. I was strong enough to prevent it from hitting the ground but the bike had laid across my knee and shin. Immediately my leg started to swell. Within seconds there was a five inch diameter hematoma. Any movement was limited and very painful. It looked like an alien’s head growing out of my leg.
I had no ice. I was solo camping in the desert wondering how to treat this? Not life threatening but by no means minor. I had my enough water so I soaked a towel, laid it on the soon to hatch alien and elevated my leg high above my heart. I was so thankful that I had packed my hammock to rest in.
The water evaporating cooled my leg. I swallowed 3 Tylenol and used a 6 inch ACE wrap for compression to limit further edema. RICE, (Rest, Ice, COMPRESSION and Elevation). Weeks later my leg is still stiff and sore but the alien has departed. The pain is a daily reminder to be ever so careful and take care of all injuries.
Every night I slept in my cot tent. Once, while out in the desert, I was awakened by the sound of footsteps. I could clearly hear them crunching the sand & gravel around me. I sleep with my Glock Model 30, two flashlights, wallet, truck & Harley keys. I lay quiet, very still, listening, discerning if man or beast?
A tent provides protection from the wind and rain. I was unprotected, wide awake with my heart racing. I was zippered shut in my sleeping bag. If I attempted to unzip the noise would be loud and unmistakable. I had my flashlights but didn’t want to put a spotlight on myself. What an easy target I would be. I couldn’t give away my one advantage, that I was awake and aware of their presence.
I pressed the Toyota’s remote key fob that locks and unlocks the doors. It also flashes on the lights. I had my hand on the zipper and as soon as the lights flashed I unzipped and rolled out. I heard footsteps running away. My Glock was in my right hand and a flashlight in my left. In a crouching position I pressed my light on then quickly off, moving a few feet to my left, listening for others.
My Glock had a round chambered and nine in the magazine. My finger was off the trigger. I moved for cover squatting behind a tree, I pressed my flashlight briefly on & quickly off again in the direction of the footsteps. I immediately moved to the other side of the tree and stood erect behind cover. No noise, no movement, no people. I inhaled a long deep breath. Best shot I never had to take.
I concluded that someone had walked around my campsite. Aside from the obvious noise that I heard, I’m certain because I place sticks, leaves and “markers” in specific traffic areas. They were disturbed. My truck, Harley and mountain bike were all locked. Although they did try to steal my mountain bike. Glad I’ve gotten into a habit of always locking things up, even when I’m out in a remote location. My next mountain bike ride was a sweet ride.
To summarize my month long self test. I could have gone completely off grid, not stayed at campsites with hot showers and electric. I could have by passed the buffets. I could have stayed safe and comfortable at my friends house in Montana, never testing myself. I could have done a lot of things but I did something.
I got out of my comfort zone, challenging and testing myself, my supplies and gear. I attempted to create and put myself in uncomfortable situations while I had time off between jobs. I’m not much of an expert in any one thing and I’m nobody special as I shared with you some of my flaws.
I write this article to share my mistakes and ideas. To encourage Survival Blog readers, challenge yourself, learn more skills, get your PSA checked, follow up with your MD for your health conditions, take better care of yourself, physically, mentally and spiritually, maintenance your vehicles and use what you prepared. This web site, JWR and other writers have helped me in many ways over the years. I just wanted to give some back.
PRAY, and then:
1. Immediately care for any minor injuries, cuts and bruises
They quickly get worse.
I have advanced first aid and rehab training but neglected treatments to myself.
Additions to my first aid kit are hundreds of single use antibiotic ointment packets, Bentadine swabs and hundreds of small and larger “knuckle” bandages
additional contact lenses, solution, glasses and hand sanitizer
2. I have done some positive training, mentally & physically.
I have developed some good habits and skill sets.
I need to learn more, read more, study more.
3. I took great care of my feet wearing boots, socks and shower slippers, (fungus in those hot public showers)
I neglected my hands
Additions; gloves for every occasion, exam gloves, rubber palmed gloves, leather driving gloves and wear them to prevent injuries
4. Have quick & easy ways to cook and make fires.
Have a variety of foods, spices and drinks
Focus on cleaning up and disposing of trash
Mountain House products were the best I used
poured boiling water in a package only needed a spoon
5. Don’t underestimate the affects of the weather.
6. Don’t overestimate your skill set or physical abilities.
7. Regularly use and replace supplies and equipment.
You can never have enough band aids. lighters, knives and flashlights
8. Hot coffee & tea were life savers.
The caffeine kick & the warmth were a big plus.
Peanut butter was a treat and needs no refrigeration
9. Vehicle maintenance is critical.
I am not mechanically blessed.
I had no mechanical problems due to being proactive.
10. Read and purchase more educational “How to” books.
11. Warm showers are therapeutic, hot showers are Heavenly
12. Most of my preps were focused towards two legged threats
Increase preps for the slithering and eight legged ones.
13. I always needed, fuel, propane, electric power, batteries, a lighter, a knife or a flashlight.
The resumes and phone interviews came through. I accepted a full time position on Maui. I’m not planning at traveling any time soon but we all know how plans can change.
Mahalo, Maui Dan
God Bless us all with His wisdom.