Spring is almost here, all the snow is gone and Julie and I haven’t been able to take advantage of any real outdoors time together in quite a while.  We have decided to take a day trip up past Harrisburg, Illinois and venture into the Garden of the Gods.  Anyone who hasn’t been there, I highly recommend taking a detour if you are passing anywhere near Southern Illinois.  I am thinking maybe a 5 mile hike will do us both some good.  I know it will surely help my demeanor.  I think I should have been a Druid.  Being outside and particularly in the forrest really puts me at peace.

Before we head out, I need to go to the garage and check on a few things.  Make sure we have the basics.  A survival kit, water, and perhaps a bit of lunch.  I know many people would simply take off and venture into the woods without a second thought.  That isn’t me.  I learned a long time ago, stuff happens.  Once while out for a day hike we managed some how to get lost, I know that is a shocker.  Especially for anyone who has driven anywhere with me, but it happened.  As we realized it, darkness was fast approaching.  Rather than try to wander about in the woods at night, we opted to stay put.  Julie and I huddled together with emergency blankets and stayed some what warm.  Temperatures in Southeast Missouri that February plummeted down into the low twenties.  It certainly wasn’t the most pleasant night we ever spent in the woods, but we survived.  After a quick breakfast, we were able to find the trail in the morning light and safely made it back to the trail head.

Thankfully we had a few things with us on that trip.  Each of us had a small survival kit  with just a few essentials.  Doesn’t matter where I am headed or what I am doing, if I venture into the woods I take the basics.  I will from time to time add or take away an item or two, or try out a new product.  I am even an advocate of putting a small survival kit into each or your vehicles.  You never know what might happen.

So what should be in there?  A trip to a local book store or library will render numerous books that address this.  Here are some of the things I carry:

Kit:  Small pouch or camel pack with pocket, fresh water, bleach (a few drops in water will help  kill the bad stuff) or water filter system, compass, map of area, whistle, knife or multi-tool, flashlight, parachute cord, emergency blanket (mummy style), fire starters, rain gear, spool of wire, candles, small trowel, toilet paper/diaper wipes.

These are the bare minimum that I take.  Additional things can always be added, a tarp, a pot or skillet, an axe or machete and a poncho are always good additions.

So how do you decide what you need?  Basically experience; the more you have, the less you actually need.  The pot or skillet aren’t at all necessary, however, they would be very convenient.  Same for the emergency blanket, you do not need it, but if you do not know how to stay warm when the temperatures drop and they will, then you need one.  Insulation is always available in the woods.  By the time we realized we were lost, it was already getting dark.  Had we not had the blankets, we would have had to find the proper materials in the dark to stay warm.  Same goes for the poncho and tarp.  They both can become a quick shelter in a pop up storm.  Bottom line, up front – Be prepared!  It is time to head to the garage and get my gear.  Tomorrow hopefully I will have some awesome pictures of our trip.