Do you see those paracord colors and other camping supplies you thought are unnecessary? They can actually save your life in more ways than one.
On August 2018, rescue groups from Summit County, Colorado, had to help save a couple stuck on a cliff with an elevation of more than 13,000 feet. The couple, who came from Texas, was in the area for a supposed marriage proposal. They were meant to take the easier trail but ended up going into the more difficult one. When they realized they were wrong, weather conditions pushed them somewhere else.
They were lucky. In 2015, a crew filming for the Animal Planet found the body of Geraldine Largay, who disappeared two years ago. A veteran hiker, she lost her way in the Appalachian Mountains after she relieved herself. She survived for 26 days before she succumbed to the weather conditions and hunger. Sadly, the place where she was found was already near civilization.
Why Do These Stories Matter?
These tales in the wilderness are significant for one reason: Americans love the spend time in the outdoors, and the numbers are growing.
In the 2017 Outdoor Participation Report, the Outdoor Foundation revealed almost half of the population 6 years old and above ventured into nature in 2016. Overall, more than 144 million people participated. This is despite the fact that the total number of outdoor outings decreased between 2015 and 2016 and that 8.6 million decided to stop doing it.
The 2018 Kampgrounds of America’s report mentioned a 20% increase of households that engaged in camping from 2014 to 2017. The percentage of homes with members camping at least thrice annually also went up by 64% within the same period.
That’s not all. Coleman reported that in 2016, about 11% of the campers were first-timers with an average age of 10. The age and lack of experience can make them vulnerable to the dangers of the activity.
Worse, not everyone invests on camping gear. Around 22% of the first-time campers didn’t spend anything on supplies. For those who did, they usually purchased backpacks, airbeds, flashlights, and tents. They were even more likely to bring their mobile devices.
Making the Most of the Experience
People enjoy the outdoors for a variety of reasons. It can be to promote better health and mind, as well as to socialize with families and friends. Regardless of your intention, it should not put you in harm’s way.
While buying flashlights, tents, and backpacks are great, some tools may be just as important. Paracords, for example, have multiple uses. These can include moving heavy objects, stopping bleeding, building a shelter or a raft, and guiding people from their origin to their destination (and back).
You can also use flares, which can signal their location and satellite phones in places where the mobile signal is nonexistent. Even the old-fashioned compass and map can be so much better than a GPS tracker in certain areas.
Most of all, you need to assess your outdoor knowledge and experience. The call of the Appalachian is strong, but it might not be best for an inexperienced camper or hiker for now.