In the past years, being in and out of the bush, I have been asked so many questions by ladies who have never been tramping or hiking in the backcountry before. They think I’m crazy, hiking as a woman by myself.
The outdoors is a scary place, especially if you’re used to living in cities, where you can buy Snickers bars 24 hours a day.
You can die in the backcountry, that’s a fact. I am not saying you will, but you can. You have to prepare and be aware of what’s out there. I personally have faced death a few times in the outdoors and escaped with my life. Death lurks in every corner and comes when you would least expect it.
The wild is so intimidating. Yet for that same reason, it’s so appealing.
In this post I will point out some of the biggest dangers you can face in the wild. Most of these hazards are manageable though, if you know what to do. It’s important to be well informed as to prevent certain death by stupidity.
High Risk Items
You require some special gear when you head out. Some items like knives and axes pose an obvious threat when you have them in your pack. These are what I like to call high risk items. You need some experience and education if you want to go out there and use them.
Here are some of the other high risk items you should be aware of.
High Risk Item 1: Scarves
Scarves are very handy when you tramp. They make good blankets, hats, purses and dresses. I never go out without a scarf and you shouldn’t either, if you want to look good and stylish. You might think what’s the point? If you haven’t showered for four days, why would you care about looking good?
On the other hand though would you prefer smelling bad and looking like crap? Or at least looking good but smelling bad. That’s all up to you.
When I don’t treat my scarves nicely, they become aggressive. That’s scary, considering they rest around my neck. Many times, I have escaped an attack from one of my scarves that turned berserk and hooked herself on a tree or my pack.
It’s her way of saying she needs some loving. So always treat your scarf nicely.
High Risk Item 2: Tents
Tents, they make the most sane person suicidal. If you have never pitched a tent before, here are the range of emotions you’ll go through trying to set it up for the first time.
It’s impossible to avoid these emotions. When you’re actually in the backcountry, you might end up hurling yourself into the fire to end your agony.
If you’re thinking “oh well, I will just buy one of those pop-up tents to go camping,” please don’t. Not only are they for extremely lazy people (which I’m sure you’re not), they’re such a pain to hike with because they’re bulky and pack up into a round flapping bag.
Get the real deal and set it up once before you go. Or have someone show you how to set it up when you’re in the store. It saves a lot of frustration when you’re out there and it’s raining and windy.
High Risk Item 3: Untied Shoelaces
I’m an untied shoelace sort of person, especially when I have to leave my tent at night for a necessary toilet stop.
Beware of the untied shoelace, many trampers warned me and still I pay no heed. This resulted in some pretty impressive faceplants.
High Risk People
When you’re in the backcountry, you’re never out there alone. There’s people lurking in the shadows, in the trees, underground. Just waiting for the right moment, when you’re distracted, to jump up on you and politely introduce themselves.
Bearded Men with Chainsaws
The most dangerous of these backcountry people are men with chainsaws. I have met quite a few on my adventures, they’re usually lumberjacks, hence the chainsaw. In their world they spend heaps of time living by themselves in the woods. This means they’re starved of human contact and you know what happens then?
You go crazy.
If a bearded man with a chainsaw walks up to you, you’re doomed. High chance that you end up doing a photo shoot with him pretending your arm has been cut off by putting large amounts of ketchup on your elbow.
This experience might make you put your life into perspective. This means many sleepless nights will follow, thinking why you are stuck in a routine while you could be doing photo shoots with bearded men, ketchup and chainsaws all the time.
It’s okay though, having these thoughts is healthy and you don’t need to kill yourself if your life is less than exciting. Change it, change it now, even if you’re forty and have a mortgage. You can have a fulfilling life and be crazy, scaring the crap out of your family members and friends.
I’m the living example of that, doing unpredictable stuff all the time and scaring the crap out of my family. They’ve gotten used to it by now as they can predict I’m always up to something.
I keep on repeating myself but seriously, get out there! A four day hike is not really that big of a deal. Of course it’s scary if you’ve never done it before. There’s a few things you have to prepare like food, water, tent, rain gear, boots and maps. Most parks have information centers where they can help you figure out what you need.
But assuming that there’s cheesy men lurking in the bushes waiting to lure you with flowers and venison to come and live with them in the magical forest, it happens only in movies.
Wait! Hold on.
That actually does happen.
Special thanks to Zascha Mann, my beardy model. He’s very sick at the moment and wasn’t supposed to leave his bed so it was a big effort on his side.
Thanks so much my friend, get well soon!
Please send him all of your healing powers and prayers.