SROM Blog: Wilderness, Ministry, Leadership

God’s Abundant Provision

March 21st, 2019

An Introduction Wild Edibles Foraging

By: Laura Albert

Have you ever wondered what it was like in the Garden of Eden? What it looked like, smelled like, felt like? Oh, man I have! I have often wondered how Adam and Eve lived in Eden and how they not only related to God, but also to all the animals, water, and plants that were in their care. The one thing that boggles my mind the most is the idea that all the plants provided abundant resources of food, tea, medicine, spices, the works! The idea that all that you could ever want or need is right there at your fingertips for harvesting in any season! Ah, what a delight!

 

Now, we definitely don’t live in Eden anymore, sadly. And no, we can’t harvest every fruit, vegetable, or spices in any season we want anymore. However, God does still provide incredible food, medicine, and spices in nature for us to delight in. Pretty neat right?

 

But you may be wondering to yourself, “Sure it might all be there, but how do I know what is what? And how do I know where to find it?” Both are really great questions and I’m going to take you through a  basic introduction to Wild Edibles Foraging.

 

Here are some basic tips and tricks to remember when foraging for wild edibles.

First things first, never – I repeat NEVER – eat something you find in nature that you are not able to 120% identify as exactly that plant species!

 

We live in a fallen world! And as a part of that, there are lots of copy cats to plants that can not only lead you astray, but will actually kill you. If you are a beginner or are new to the area, find a more seasoned person to take you out on foraging hikes. This will save you a potential trip to the ER.

 

Are you a bit scared now? Good. That is good. Not that fear is good, so please don’t hear that. I’m saying it’s important to be overly cautious when foraging. Because while foraging is incredibly fun and rewarding, it is important to keep yourself and others safe.

 Do your homework

Each season and each area of the world are unique! Amazing how God makes such unique things right? But when foraging for wild edibles, a plant might be edible in the spring but can be poisonous in a different season. Just like each person God has created is unique, so is each plant species on earth.

 

Your local library is a great resource to find specific publications and ID books about wild foraging for your specific part of the world. It is a good place to start. An ID book should give you specific criteria on how to correctly identify a plant species from what it looks like, how the leaves are shaped, to what kind of environment that plant grows (ie a swamp versus alpine environment).

 

Pay attention to these criteria as they will give you the tools to identify friend from foe on your wild foraging trips.

 Be a good steward

We were all given a mandate from God to be a good steward of our resources. This means ALL of our resources including things in nature.

 

When harvesting a wild edible, it is important to remember this. Because if you are harvesting too much of a plant or it’s fruit, it will not be able to reproduce and it will not thrive. If a particular plant or fungus is not able to reproduce and have fruit fall, no new plants will grow, and consequently you will not be able to harvest from that plant in that spot any longer because it won’t be growing there.

 

It is important to help these amazing resources thrive. They have a lot in nature to overcome in order to produce fruit and a healthy plant! If you over harvest, it will die out. A good rule to harvest by is to only take ⅓ of what you see to harvest for your own use. Sometimes that ⅓ will be abundant and sometimes it won’t.

 

For example when I harvest wild mushrooms, if I see less than 10 mushrooms in a 20 ft radius, I take note of the spot and walk away. Because these 10 fruits (mushrooms we see are the fruits!) will need to spore (ie go to seed) to produce a better patch for me to find the next year. In this way, I am investing and stewarding this patch for not just myself but future harvesters to have an abundant harvest in the years to follow.

 

Foraging for wild edibles is like a treasure hunt while on a hike. It’s a lot of fun and it helps you see and experience your environment in a whole new way! But like most treasure hunting, there is a dangerous side too.

Be careful, educate yourself, and don’t eat something the first time without confirming it’s edibility with a local expert.

 

Even if you are sure, take lots of photos on your camera or phone, take note of where you found it, and then go home first to confirm it is what you think it is. Then, if you find you’ve found a treasured wild edible, go back and harvest.

 

Enjoy the treasure hunt on your next hike!

Backcountry Nutrition: Importance of Hydration

March 14th, 2019

Earlier this year, we started a blog series about nutritional needs in the backcountry, and the basic food types your body needs. This week we are going to discuss the vital role water plays in outdoor recreation (and life!).

Water

A person can live approximately three weeks without food, but only three days without water. Water is the medium for the chemical reactions that keep you functioning physically and mentally.  Water also functions as a coolant for the body through sweating. Without sufficient water, the body is susceptible to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Hydration

The average person (in a 70°F environment) should drink approximately half a gallon (2 Nalgenes) of water a day. As physical activity and temperature increase, so does the body’s need for water.  At SROM, we recommend that our students drink at least 4 quarts/Nalgenes of water a day! When you are with a group, it is important to make sure that you and everyone else is drinking water. Stop and take a group re-hydrating session in which everyone takes a break and drinks some of their water. Staying hydrated is more important than arriving somewhere on time or making the summit. The best method is to be consistently drinking, taking mouthfuls of water throughout the day. On average, a person can only absorb 8 ounces of water (1/4 of a Nalgene) in a 15 minute period, so it is best to be drinking a few ounces every 15 minutes. Sip, don’t guzzle! Use of water bladders often increases hydration because it is easier to consistently sip from a bladder hose than it is to sip from a Nalgene during a hike. At SROM, we encourage the use of hydration bladders, and require them for students on most of our courses.

Some folks may resist drinking water, as they are used to drinking sugary juices or sodas. Plain water is best, but it is ok to use a drink mix such as Gatorade or lemonade if it will encourage you to consume more fluids. Fluid intake is key!

Dehydration

The most effective way to monitor hydration levels is to keep track of how often and how you and your outdoor buddies are drinking. Signs of dehydration may be subtle at first, but will increase in severity as the individual becomes more dehydrated. Watch yourself and your friends for the following:

  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Lack of hunger

First Aid: drink water in small, consistent amounts until symptoms subside, and encourage the individual to eat and rest.

Ways to Monitor Hydration:

Urine Color:

  • Clear – Have no fear!
  • Yellow – You’re feeling mellow, but you need to increase your water intake.
  • Brown – Your fluid levels are down. Evacuate back to town.

Pinch Test

The pinch test is best used to monitor long-term hydration. If someone has been gradually dehydrating (not replenishing enough fluid to recover what has been consumed) over a period of several days, his or her skin will be less elastic than in its usual, hydrated state. To check skin elasticity, pinch a section of skin on the back of the hand and gently lift it up a bit (not so much so that the skin becomes taut). Release the skin, and monitor how quickly it snaps back into place. The slower it snaps back, the more dehydrated the person.

 

Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia is a condition of low sodium in the blood caused by high water intake combined with low salt intake and salt loss in sweat. Untreated, it can easily cause death. Hyponatremia is most likely when recreating in desert environments (such as Grand Canyon National Park, Escalante National Monument, and Red Rocks National Conservation Area). The increased temperatures, sun exposure, and physical demands of activity in the desert increases the risk of hyponatremia. When exercising in the intermountain west, hyponatremia is not a condition you are likely to experience on a SROM course. However, it is important to be aware that you can drink too much water and that there are serious consequences for doing so.

Signs of Hyponatremia:

  • History of heavy water intake (e.g., 7 liters of water in 18 hours)
  • History of little/ no food intake
  • Headache
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Altered mental status

First Aid: Rest, gradual intake of salty foods, and no fluid intake (not even electrolyte replacement drink).

 

Electrolyte Balance

Along with hydration, the consumption of salt is a common concern. Dr. Braaten states that you are unlikely to have a salt deficiency if you are eating enough calories. You only need to replace what you lose—normally 200 mg/day. Excessive sweating may increase the body’s need (1000 mg sodium/quart of sweat), but notice that the average American diet contains much higher levels of sodium than this. The only caution is that diuretics and various medications may cause electrolyte depletion. This situation and extreme heat conditions are the only times Dr. Braaten recommends a high sodium diet.

This also means that even in a desert environment, your body does not need an electrolyte replacement or sugary sports drink. Despite what advertisers for sports drinks would have you think, most people get plenty of salts in their normal diet.

 

Extreme Conditions

As with all things, extreme conditions and stress (such as wilderness travel) increase the severity of the demands on the human body. Be aware of the varying physical needs of each person with whom you are recreating.

Extreme Cold (below 10°F)

More fuel is required for the human body in the cold (up to 3-4 times as much). To maintain the body’s core temperature, an additional 250-500 calories/day should be consumed. This could be 4-8 servings of high carbohydrate/high fat snacks, but avoid high protein foods, since they increase water requirements and decrease cold tolerance. It will also help to pack low moisture foods to make short, easy snack breaks possible. Consuming 500-1,200 calories just before bed will help you sleep warmer and more soundly.

Extreme Heat (above 100°F)

In extreme heat, the most critical nutrient is water. Water is lost not only through sweating but also through breathing. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink! If you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrating. Carry twice as much water as you think you will need to safeguard against dried up water sources. Though appetites may be suppressed in extreme heat, salty foods should be encouraged since 1000 mg sodium is lost in each quart of sweat. Avoid diuretics such as caffeine and high sugar drinks.

Rest frequently in the shade, travel in the early morning or evening, wear a hat with a brim, and keep a wet bandana over the back of your neck.

How Cold is Too Cold?

March 7th, 2019

Navigating the cold with Tools, Tips, & Tricks

By: Audrey Stelzer

Think of the coldest you have ever been…

 

No, really. Stop and think about the absolute coldest you have ever been.

 

What were you hearing? Were you able to feel anymore? Did you get any weird tastes? Did you suddenly feel like global warming is a myth? Can you even remember? Or do you just recall being freezzzzzing?

 

For some of us, the coldest we have ever been was actually during the summer months. Temperature exposure and safety is a daily reality in the outdoors- whether that be during the summer or the winter. Beautiful days in the outdoors can turn into bitter cold nights, so how do we best educate ourselves and prepare for such fluctuation? In this blog, we hope to bust some myths and give you a few simple tools, tips, and tricks to add to your repertoire.

THE BASICS:

  1. We, humans, lose heat in four different ways: Evaporation, Convection, Conduction, and Radiation. Hypothermia and cold injuries can be a result of poorly regulating one (or all) of these heat loss mechanisms (see additional resources below for definitions).
  2. It is important to recognize the strong connection between fluid levels, fluid loss, and heat loss. As body moisture is lost through the various evaporative processes the overall circulating volume is reduced which can lead to dehydration. This decrease in fluid level makes the body more susceptible to hypothermia and other cold injuries.¹
  3. Prevention, prevention, prevention. You just can’t beat it.  

 

MYTHBUSTERS:

Myth #1: Two people in a sleeping bag will cure hypothermia.

Actually, this is not needed, nor is it that helpful. The amount of heat produced by the second person is miniscule in helping to increase the overall temperature of the cold person. Plus, depending on how cold the person is, they will not want to be jostled (or should not be jostled around).

Myth #2: Hot drinks will stop hypothermia.

Giving someone a warm beverage will not increase their temperature. It may be a mental boost, so it might be a good idea after doing initial care and treatment.

Myth #3: Warm up quick when you’re hypothermic!

More like “warm up nice and slow”. Our bodies are better at getting rid of heat than retaining it. Make sure to give your cold person lots of time to warm up and stabilize at a warm temperature.

TOOLS:

  1. Re-usable heat holders. Consider investing in re-usable heating devices that are small and can be re-used after a simple boil in water (check out the ones I have: Re-usable heating pads). Don’t have time to order some? You can always use items you do have! Try putting boiling water in a water bottle (not insulated!) like a nalgene and snuggle with it during the night. Careful though! They get hot. Put a t-shirt between you and the hot bottle.
  2. Clothing. Be prepared and equipped for the weather you will encounter. Keep your core warm with layers so that it happily pushes warm blood to your extremities. We always recommend wool, but anything that will keep you dry and is not restrictive (allowing good blood flow) will work. When in doubt, cover, cover, cover!
  3. Your adventure buddies are your biggest tool. Always check in with one another and be open and honest about how your body is doing.

TIPS:

  1. Don’t fall for it! Judgement traps cause many cold related injuries. It can be a beautiful day out, but the water may be too cold for swimming. Or, a beautiful day can bring in a chill after the sun dips below the horizon! Don’t let the weather fool you.
  2. Avoid being wet. Water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air because it has a greater density (therefore a greater heat capacity). Avoid this by getting good wicking clothes or changing out damp clothes entirely. Stay dry to stay alive!

3. Eat your nom noms. After a long day, sometimes it is tempting to just make a quick meal and hit the hay. Remember, food is fuel. Your body needs fuel to maintain temperature! Don’t make oatmeal for every meal- incorporate good sugars, carbs, fats, and veggies. Also, make sure to account for additional calories needed when out on the trail and in extreme temperatures. In most cases, cold injuries result from extended exposure or lack of attention. Paying attention to your meals everyday will help in thermoregulation

TRICKS:

Temperature formula. If the air temperature and water temperature combined is above 120 ℉  (H20 temp + air temp = > 120 ℉ ) you can consider swimming. This is a quick trick to get a good gauge, but remember to always use good judgement for each particular situation.

How to gauge water temperature with your hand:

    1. You can’t keep your hand in for more than 60 seconds = ~50 ℉
    2. If the water is cold on your hand but not unbearable = ~68 ℉
    3. Lukewarm (not warm and not cold) water to the hand = 91 ℉

FUN Prevention. Try to come up with some clever ways to prevent the cold from setting in. My favorite trick is having a “go” word. For example, when someone says an agreed upon word (yes, no, maybe, mountain, etc.) the person that catches them saying the word says “go do ______” (establish guidelines before the game starts). It helps to get everyone moving and makes a fun game for people!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

DEFINING THE TERMS:

Radiation – loss of heat to the environment due to the temperature gradient (this occurs only as long as the ambient temperature is below 98.6). Factors important in radiant heat loss are the surface area and the temperature gradient.
Conduction – through direct contact between objects, molecular transference of heat energy. Ex: our body heat transferring to water.
Convection – is a process of conduction where one of the objects is in motion. Ex: windchill
Evaporation – heat loss from converting water from a liquid to a gas
Cold Injury: An injury caused by exposure to extreme cold that can lead to loss of body parts and even to death

RESOURCES:

1- https://www.princeton.edu/~oa/safety/hypocold.shtml

2-https://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vector/thermometer-with-cold-icon-weather-label-for-web-vector-19915928

3- http://www.empoweredwomeninbusiness.com/bust-the-scarcity-myth-free-call/

4- http://www.flylady.net/d/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/

5- http://www.clipartpanda.com/categories/tip-clipart

 

 

Who’s Running the House?

February 21st, 2019

By: Josh Horak

When the blood of Jesus was shed on Calvary, you became the righteousness of God! The moment you received this incredible gift, you were adopted, cleansed, made whole, given a new nature, and empowered as a new creation child of God. You were made Holy, and now the “Holy” Spirit lives in you! It needs to hit home that the Holy Spirit dwells inside your body and that is why we fast!

This is what Jesus was talking about as He defined fasting in the context of the New Covenant — the covenant you and I are living in! People in ancient times used the skin of a goat to carry water or wine, with its edges sewn to make it watertight. When new wine was put in these skins, as it fermented, it would expand, stretching the wine skin. In this process, the presence of the wine actually grew and expanded the wineskin.

Jesus used this metaphor to demonstrate why we fast. The wineskin is you–your true-self. The wine is the Holy Spirit.  As you fast, the Holy Spirit is poured into you and it stretches, expands, and grows your spirit man on the inside…forcing your body and soul to mature and yield to your spirit man in the process.


You see, you were created in the image of God. God is a three part being and so are you. You are a spirit, with a soul and a body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Your spirit is the new creation in Christ; your soul is your mind, emotions, personality, and will; your body is your earth suit. The question remains, which one of these three entities is in charge?

Your spirit is to be the adult of the house, your soul is like the teenager and your body is like the infant. Have you ever seen a home run by an infant? It would be absolute chaos! Have you ever seen a home run by a teenager that thinks they know everything? It is a disaster. It is not divine order for an infant or teenager to be in charge of the family–that is the role of the parent or adult.

This is why we “Seek first the Kingdom of God….” with fasting. When we fast with the purpose of seeking first the Kingdom of God, we are reminding the house who is really in charge–our spirit man–and we are giving the Holy Spirit room to grow, expand and take up leadership over our souls and bodies.

The Holy Spirit in us is to grow and expand like the wine within a winskin so much that the wineskin can now be freely poured out. This means, in the Kingdom, there is no burnout. There is no exhaustion. There are no limitations. There is never a lack of love, strength, life and resources. All you do now is win! When we seek first His Kingdom and put His Spirit in charge of us as the “house”, we live with a forever filling, forever expanding, and forever outpouring of Jesus with our lives in every sphere of influence.

Here is my challenge to you. Read Romans 8:1-16 and see how your Spirit, with His Spirit, is to lead you as the house of God. Let His Spirit, lead your spirit into living, acting and loving as a mature child of God.

Introducing our Brand New Summer Internship!

February 7th, 2019

We are excited to announce the launch of our New Summer Internship!

You may have heard about our 40/40 Field Intership, but this new Summer Internship will focus not just on wilderness skills, but on the bigger picture of what wilderness ministry is all about.

In the Summer Internship you will learn the ins and outs of wilderness ministry. From hard skills in the front country, working with administrative systems, going on a backcountry SROM course, and helping with course logistics, you’ll learn the skills needed to gain a basic understanding how to manage a wilderness ministry to function “…in the world, but not of it.” You’ll dive into Christ centered community and journey in to the Father’s heart through a transformational summer of both intentional front country community and a backcountry wilderness experience.

The Summer Internship creates opportunities for students to grow in Christ, enter into community, form Christ-like character, develop technical skills, and gain experience as wilderness professionals.

The Summer Internship is designed to provide experiences that facilitate growth as a wilderness professional as well as propel individuals to permanent communities living for God’s glory, secure in their identities, and ready to engage the world for Christ.

Summer Interns role is a volunteer position with a monthly stipend and housing provided. This volunteer position is one where interns will assist and shadow staff at the SROM base learning the logistics of what it takes to facilitate and implement a SROM course. Interns will have the opportunity to see the entire process from advertising a course, the process of when a student enrolls to when they arrive and then go back to their communities, and everything in between!

Interns will not only get to witness and participate in assisting the Logistics Staff with all of these processes, but you will also get to experience a SROM course and gain valuable professional development through being enrolled in the Wilderness First Responder and participating on the 10/10 Adult Climbing and Backpacking course as a student.

This Internship really gives a broad understanding to what a Wilderness Ministry in action looks like and give an experience of a transformational time in the wilderness as a student.

Take Steps Toward Your Hero's Journey Now!

Click the button below to apply or for more information. You can also call 307.755.0642×100 and talk with Admissions for more information about this exciting New Program!

More of You, Less of Me

January 24th, 2019

By: Josh Horak

The most important person on the face of this earth today is the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is more important than our national government, more important than your local government and more important than all the law enforcement in your city. He contains more knowledge than all the libraries on the earth. The Holy Spirit has more power and ability than all the doctors, scientists and inventors combined. The person of the Holy Spirit is the most important person in your life, in your city and on this planet! Why is the Holy Spirit so important? Because the Holy Spirit is the one that Jesus sent to finish the work that the Father intended to be done – establishing the Kingdom of God here on earth! Therefore, the most important work on earth is not your work, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.  If we are going to advance Christ’s Kingdom on this planet we must learn to value and partner with the Holy Spirit!

Jesus made a way for you to know the Holy Spirit in the exact same way He knows the Holy Spirit. Let me explain. Before the death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit could not enter a man or woman’s body and take up permanent residence. Your old man and sinful nature made your body unclean and the Holy Spirit could not inhabit an unclean vessel. It took a blood covenant to deal with the sin issue that was still separating man from God, sanctifying man, so that God could live with man once again.  When the blood of Jesus was shed on cavalry, you became the righteousness of God and the Righteous Spirit could live in you. When you became born again because of the work of Jesus on the cross, you were made Holy, and now the “Holy” Spirit can reside in you! Let me say it another way—you were set apart by the blood of Jesus, so that the set apart one can live in you and you can live a set apart life!

 

To be born again means you become a new creation. All of God now lives on the inside of you (the Holy Spirit) and you are once again back in fellowship with God. Because of the work of Jesus and the Person of the Holy Spirit you have gained what the first Adam lost – fellowship and dominion with God!

This is why Jesus said in John 16:14, “It is better I go away… because if I don’t the Holy Spirit will not come.” Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. Your leader, who you know to be the Son of God, has just told you that He needs to leave you—and that His departure will be for your benefit. That would sound crazy to me! Yet, the disciples did not understand that while Jesus was on this earth the Holy Spirit was limited to one body – His body.

Now, because of His work on the cross and being seated with the Father, the Holy Spirit has been given to many bodies! The body of Christ is now comprised of all his sons and daughters living on the earth today. A Jesus movement is being released by the Holy Spirit and you are the chosen carrier! Anytime you need something from Jesus, you can receive it through the Holy Spirit. While Jesus walked this earth, he was limited to ministering in one location at a time. The Holy Spirit can have a million conversations and do a million things all over the earth at the same time. So when the Bible says the earth will be full of the glory of God, it is speaking of His sons and daughters all over the planet full of His Spirit!

Remember, the Holy Spirit is exactly like Jesus; He is the Spirit of Christ, Jesus in Spirit form. Are you starting to see how amazing the Holy Spirit is? Do you see why Jesus said “it is better I go away and the Holy Spirit comes”? Can you now see why you can’t afford to NOT get to know this person who is living on the inside of you! Do you see that there is no Kingdom of God without the Holy Spirit?

My closing question for you is this: YOU HAVE ALL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BUT HOW MUCH DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT HAVE OF YOU? Stop asking for more of the Holy Spirit and start giving the Holy Spirit more of you.

This is the prayer I invite you to pray during this new year…pause and wait on the LORD after every sentence:

“Holy Spirit, I thank you that I have ALL of you living inside me. Holy Spirit, now I give you ALL of me. Show me every piece of me I am withholding from you so I can give it to you. Become the most important relationship in my life. As you lived in and led Jesus, now I give you myself to live in and lead. I love you Holy Spirit! Amen.”

Alone in the Wilderness

January 17th, 2019

Planning and Taking a Solo Backpacking Trip

By: Laura Albert

Alone. In the Wilderness.

 

That phrase conjures up all sorts of images and stories from Jack London books of the frontier to the infamous story of Into the Wild. Getting lost, frozen, hurt, hunted by animals, or poisoned by eating food you shouldn’t, there are so many things to fear about going into the wilderness, let alone by yourself and hiking alone. So why do it?

Well, to that I’d say, because Jesus did for starters. But why have I gone on backpacking and canoeing solo trips? I mean as a woman alone in the wilderness the risk is still high and there are so many things to fear for sure. But the rewards truly do outweigh the risks.  

The first time I ever solo backpacked was in early October of 2003. I planned to backpack a section of the Superior Hiking Trail in northern Minnesota. I decided to go by myself because no one else in my friend group at the time were interested in camping when it wasn’t the 4th of July. So I made the choice to plan out the trip knowing I had some experience in leading others, so it should be much easier to plan for one person right? How hard could it be!

I told my roommates my itinerary, packed my gear and food, and took off after classes on Friday evening to head to the trailhead 3 hrs north. When I got there, it was dark, storming, and the trailhead was nearly invisible in the dark hardwood forest. I ended up parking in a place that looked like there was a trail, but was no sign near it as lightning flashed. Spooky doesn’t even describe the scene! But, I was determined and so wrote a note that I left on the inside dash of my car saying, “If this vehicle is still here after ______ date, call the authorities.” Grabbed my gear, rain gear on, and started hiking in the deluge.

I promise, it ended well! I end up finding the correct trail and having an amazing experience hiking and camping along the trail including an evening serenade by migrating loons calling to each other. But that first step out of the car left me trembling and fearful to be sure! But here are some things that I have learned in solo camping that can help you too enjoy being outside, alone, on your own adventures in the wilderness.

Start Small

I mean, I know the line “Go big or go home!” is like a one hit wonder right now, but getting used to hiking alone, takes some doing. So start small. Spend a half of a day hiking, then a whole day hiking alone. Get to know your thoughts, rhythms, and hiking speed. It’s different when you hike alone rather than in a group. And most importantly, leave your phone at home, in your car, or on airplane mode. Because getting away from the “noise” of the world, is what solo experiences are all about. Yes, take it with you on a longer trip, but getting used to the quiet and the natural noises around you takes some time.

 

But, even if you’re gone for half a day or a week, make sure you tell someone where you are going, when you plan on returning, and call or text them when you do get back. This is a healthy habit to get into.

 

Plan Well

Once you’ve done a few day hikes alone, now try an overnight or a weekend. And, I know everyone says that planning is the essence of every trip, but when you are going solo it truly is the most important detail. When you are planning your solo trip, here are some of the main points you want to hit:

Route:

Have your route dialed. Meaning, have your Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C routes written down and have evacuation plans written down for each plan. This includes how many days you are out, what day you plan to camp at what locations, and what maps you are using. This itinerary is for you AND for other people who you are going to give it to.

 

Lastly, STAY ON ROUTE! Because if something does happen, people will know where to look for you, will be able to find you, and if necessary, get you to help quicker.

 

Communication:

As stated above, give your itinerary to one or two people who will be around when you are out. Make sure one person at least has some idea or better yet, experience in the area you are traveling. And, have a plan to contact these people when you return to cell phone service.

 

This is a vital piece of the planning. Have a plan in place that if they do not hear from you within a certain time frame, to start the emergency plan to find you. No one plans to get hurt or stuck, but it’s nice to know that if something does happen, someone will come looking.

Know before you Go:

It sometimes isn’t practical to only go soloing to places you’ve been. Beside, where’s the fun in that?! It’s definitely part of the adventure to explore places you’ve not been to before. But, when you are going solo, it’s important to really study your maps and talk with some of the employees of that land agency about the area you are going to travel in.

 

Some things you might want to be aware of are:

  • What’s the wildlife’s behavior towards humans in this area?
  • What’s the weather usually like?
  • What is the wildfire danger level?
  • Do I need a permit to camp and where am I allowed to camp?

 

And other such questions that will help you be successful on your trip. These people are typically being paid to know such things, but other outdoor guiding places will also have good information too if the land agency does not.

 

Gear & Food

 

Packing and planning your food and gear is definitely different when you are hiking solo. For one thing, group gear and food that can usually be spread out over a few people, now is solely on your shoulders. You can go two ways: ultra light or heavy. Sadly there’s not much of a middle ground. But, getting down to the “needs” is essential when you are hiking solo.

 

Gear:

Solo shelters

When I’m hiking solo, I opt for a tarp instead of a full tent. Because I can use the tarp for shelter and use my trekking poles and other things in nature to put it up and have it stay up. Then, I use a homemade nylon bivvy that I put my sleep systems in. The nylon isn’t waterproof like some of them out on the market, but it keeps the damp off my down bag and keeps my thermarest and sleeping bag all together in a burrito-like space so I don’t roll off. It’s perfect in lieu of a ground tarp because it’s small, light, and cost me $6 to make.

 

Backpack

I have a 75 L backpack. It is large enough to be able to go for several weeks in a group, or solo depending on what you pack. It is what I use to carry all of my gear, clothes, food, and a few non-essentials like a watercolor painting set and a book to read. It’s a bit much for a weekend though. So I use a 55 L pack for shorter trips in warmer temperatures because I can pack less bulky layers. As with smaller spaces, you do have to be more intentional about what you pack. So going lighter and smaller is ideal.

Water Purification

Getting a water borne illness is not something I’d recommend! There are lots of great filters out there that are small or you can use an iodine tablet to purify your water. If the water is silty, or not clear, let it sit or try to filter it out with a t-shirt or bandana. Not just for taste, but if you are using iodine, it will purify the silt and not kill any of the beasties in the water.

 

Layers

Layers are important. Having a set of clothing for hiking, one for in camp, and one for sleeping is key. It’s not too much and it’s enough to go for several weeks or a weekend. In addition to basic layers, having a warm fleece or down jacket and pants, and rain gear is essential to your personal clothing items to keep you warm, dry, and enjoying yourself in the wilderness.

 

Food:

For food on a solo trip, meal planning is the best way to go. Because this way, you won’t be over packing for your trip. If I’m going for a weekend, I literally only pack the amounts I need for each meal, and an extra breakfast and dinner. I may pack a few extra snacks just in case, but not more than that. Where most people would pack just the bare minimum, I pack an extra few meals in case I get stuck and have to wait out weather. For more information on how to pack and plan for meals, read https://srom.org/blog/backcountry-nutrition-an-introduction/ for more details.

 

Other additions

 

I pack my bible, journal, and watercolor set with me when I go solo backpacking. I also take my phone for photos and in case of an emergency, a small first aid kit. These little personal additions are what make my solo hiking some of my favorite backpacking experiences!

Because in these solo times of hiking alone, cooking alone, and being in camp alone, I get to spend that time with Jesus! I get to enjoy the quiet beauty of the natural world that God created for me and all humanity to enjoy. But also, I get to worship Him in these quiet moments of painting, hiking, or watching the sun slip behind the peaks that day. Each has a quiet beauty, and yet an amazing heavenly song to sing that I would not have experienced the same way surrounded by other hikers in a group.

 

Hiking with a group in the wilderness has so much value too. But it’s in those silent moments that I really learn more about who God is, and who I am in Him. So I echo God’s command, “Fear not for the Lord your God is with you.” And go seek Him alone in the wilderness, and listen for what He wants to share with you.

Backcountry Nutrition: An Introduction

January 10th, 2019

Maintaining good nutrition while in the backcountry is essential to good health, peak physical performance, and trip enjoyment. The SROM food system is designed to optimize nutrient quality. Taken into consideration are the unique physical demands of the outdoor experience, weight and bulk of food, ease of food preparation, stove fuel, instructor/participant feedback, and cost. The essential nutritional categories considered are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Additionally, water, vitamins, and minerals play key roles in physical performance, as well as awareness and adaptation to extreme outdoor conditions.

Outdoor Nutrition

Proper nutrition in the outdoors requires different nutrient combinations than regular life because you will not only be more active, but while backpacking you also often carry an additional 40-60% of your body weight in equipment and supplies. This extra activity requires 500-1,000 calories per day more than the normal recommended daily allowance (RDA). While our bodies have stores to weather short-term decreases in nutrients, a wilderness course is not the time for dieting! Muscles need fuel to perform. Without appropriate fuel, muscles will break down their own tissue to function, leaving the body progressively weaker. Adipose fat and glycogen stores, which provide cushioning for organs, heat insulation and that last reserve of energy to prevent “bonking,” will also be compromised if the body does not get the fuel it needs.

According to Dr. Braaten, noted outdoor enthusiast and nutritionist, “muscles engaged in long duration moderate intensity exercise burn:

  • 25% Fat within the muscle (triglycerides),
  • 25% Fat from diet or adipose tissue storage (free fatty acids)
  • 25% Carbohydrates within the muscle (glycogen), and
  • 25% Glucose (carbohydrate) delivered from the liver (either recycled or from the diet).”

Increasing intensity results in the burning of more carbohydrates.

A balance of all nutrient categories is important. Experts agree that a nutrient ratio of 50% carbohydrates, 35% fat, and 15% protein (50:35:15) is optimal for endurance activities.

Food Types

Food comes in three basic molecular types: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  Each food type is broken down differently in the body (metabolism) and serves different purposes in keeping a body functioning in a healthy balance.

Carbohydrates

The maintenance of carbohydrate/glycogen stores in the muscles is what determines the body’s endurance. This can be accomplished most efficiently by frequent snacking (20-30 g/hour) on complex carbohydrates and fats. Unlike fat and protein, there are relatively small stores of carbohydrates in the body so it is important to frequently renew these stores through food intake.

Carbohydrates can be classified into simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex carbohydrates (starches and fiber). Complex carbohydrates are better for maintaining steady energy levels. Never eat simple carbohydrates before exercise because they trigger the release of insulin which causes glucose/blood sugar levels to drop. This is particularly important to keep in mind for hypoglycemics and diabetics.

Carbohydrates within the body are represented by three types of fuel: glucose, lactic acid, and glycogen. Glucose, or blood sugar, is important for brain and muscle functioning during high intensity exercise. Lactic acid is half a glucose molecule due to lack of oxygen during combustion.  Lactic acid is converted to glucose by the liver as oxygen levels increase. Glycogen is made up of many glucose molecules joined together and stored in the liver and muscles. Glycogen is the body’s energy reserve. To avoid glycogen depletion, snack often throughout the day and within 1 hour after reaching your destination.

In a SROM food ration, examples of foods that contain complex carbohydratess include oatmeal, grits, brown rice, hash browns, pea soup, and lentils. For gluten-free rations, complex carbohydrates can be found in the garbanzo bean flour, quinoa, and rice chips. Examples of foods that contain simple carbohydrates in a SROM food ration include animal crackers, cheese crackers, pretzels, “bear mush” hot breakfast, pasta, and rice.

 

Fats

Not only is fat the most energy dense nutrient, but it is also a preferred fuel for exercise. A diet high in fat will spare muscle glycogen, a critical component for endurance.  For endurance athletes, half the fat burned is from storage while the other half is from diet. Also, a high fat ration weighs 20% less than a high carbohydrate or high protein ration.

There is little concern that higher fat consumption in the back country will lead to weight gain or clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) because activity levels are increased. In fact, a high fat diet slows digestion, which aids the absorption of nutrients and helps the stomach to feel full longer.

Examples of foods that contain fats in a SROM ration include nuts (e.g., in GORP, granola, lunch mixes), peanut butter or sunbutter, cheeses, butter, olive oil, Snickers® bars, hot cocoa, summer sausage, and other meats (i.e., canned tuna, canned chicken, fresh caught fish).

Proteins

Protein consumption only comprises 10% of the body’s energy needs.  Its primary use is the building of muscle tissue. Since most Americans consume two times the RDA of protein, you may find the SROM diet lower in protein than what you normally eat. However, the SROM ration will still be sufficient for your muscle building and energy needs. Athletes should consume 1 g protein/kg body weight (12-15% of the diet). To calculate protein needs for strenuous activity (in g/day) multiply the participant’s weight in pounds by 2.2.  This amounts to 4 servings of protein per day. Protein can be found in nuts, beans, cheese, or meat.

Do not supplement with amino acids or eat excess protein. The body does not store excess protein as an energy source for later use. Your body can break down muscle for energy if it needs to, but your body only keeps enough protein to repair muscle damage and dumps the rest.  Your body processes all excess proteins through the kidneys. This means the kidneys will only have to work harder eliminating the extra nitrogen and require more water. Excess protein consumption has been found to be harmful to your health.

Examples of foods that contain protein in a SROM food ration include beans, lentils, peanut butter or sunbutter, nuts, powdered milk, cheeses, hummus, summer sausage, and other meats (i.e., canned tuna, canned chicken, fresh caught fish).

So it doesn’t matter whether you are going for 40 days or 4 days. Your nutrition on your trip is one of the key factors in how successful you will be during your time in the wilderness. And, just because you are in the wilderness, doesn’t mean you still can’t eat well on your journey!

**Copywrited SROM Instructor Handbook**

References:

Braaten, B.L. (2004). Thru-Hiker.com. Retrieved March 2009, from Pack Light, Eat Right: http://thru-hiker.com/articles/pack_light_eat_right.php

Kailey, P. (n.d.). On-Trail Nutrition 101. Retrieved March 20, 2009 from backcountry.com: http://www.backcountry.com/store/newsletter/a474/On-Trail-Nutrition-101.html

Mytys, A. (2001). Backcountry Kitchen. Retrieved March 2009, from Andy’s Lightweight Backpacking Site: http://www.geocities.com/amytys/food.htm

 

Fun For All Four Seasons!

January 3rd, 2019
By: Daria Holler
I have had a request to write about seasons and the sports that I have weathered, dialed, and grown to truly love throughout the year. I love living in an area of the world where I can experience all four seasons. For me it is extremely refreshing to embrace and be fully in each season while it is present. Many may disagree with me, but I really do appreciate sub-zero temps in the middle of Wyoming because it makes the mildness of spring and heat of the summer all the more appreciated.
I believe that we humans are meant to endure. If we did not endure, we would simply become spoiled and aggravated that the control we thought we had never actually existed and then we are just left with meaningless resentment for something we really can’t control… Weather, seasons and life. Just as isolated seasons or highly successful seasons ebb and flow, I see the physical changing seasons as a beautiful symbol of hope and anticipation for where we are everyday… I could talk about this subject for a long time… BUT- Let us save that topic for another entry. As the seasons change, the anticipation of swapping sports also transitions. Some spend their year in constant training for one specific sport. Some simply take on training for multiple sports in rotation as one season comes to a close, perhaps that closing seasons sport was helping prepare for the up coming seasons sport and so on. I like to participate in activities that have the latter flow.

MY sports!

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Downhill Skiing/ Mogul/Telemark: Winter, Spring

By far my number one favorite sport! There is something about gliding across creation and having a deafening silence pierce your ears as thick flakes fall silently to the ground at the top of a run. When you begin your descent, NOTHING beats a good deep carve and company on a chairlift is some of the best company I have ever had the pleasure of being present for. This sport is my Nitch and I am thankful that God uses this sport to bring my heart alive and the delight he gains from how much joy it brings me is mind-blowing.

I currently really suck at this sport but it makes be extremely excited for when the season rolls back around because it is another opportunity to progress.

 

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Cross Country Skiing:Winter, Spring

I have enjoyed this sport more in recent years and it helps me with continual endurance training that transfers into Spring and summer!

 

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Running: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

I don’t love running on a hamster wheel (treadmill) or running in sub-zero temps on slick surfaces, However it is worth it to me because it keeps my endorphins up in the low light and lack of Vitamin D this time of year.

 

FUN FACT: Majority of the state of Wyoming is Vitamin D deficient! People take your vitamins!

 

Continually training and mixing it up in my running I have realized is very important on improving. If you literally run the same mileage every day at the same pace, eventually your body is going to hate you and you really will not progress in anything. Spring means race season is upon us and throughout the winter into spring, it is crucial to get those fast twitch muscles sharpened and stoked. I have only realized the potential in excelling through speed training recently. Game changer!

 

Rock Climbing: Spring, Summer, Fall

In some places in Wyoming, like Sinks Canyon, you can actually climb year around. Spring is for waking up Winter arms and getting back up to where you were last Fall. My year-round time in the gym usually helps in this transition (so I tell myself). I love climbing. Something about getting vertical distance and pushing yourself in, learning to read the rock, but also figure out and strengthen technique and sequencing. It’s so much fun!

 

Road Cycling: Late Spring, Summer, Fall

The roads in winter in Wyoming and even sometimes into the Spring can be rather dangerous and unmaintained. The first ride of the season is exhilarating! Especially because you feel the different in gaining your bearings for NOT being on your road bike for a season and a half. It’s like riding a bike, but it’s also like learning to ride a bike again.

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Mountain Biking: Spring, Summer, Fall

When the ground finally drys up a bit I get really pumped on being able to get back into any saddle! My time during the winter skiing often helps in transitioning to Mountain biking because the flow and techniques are very much the same. So between this sport and Skiing, I am able to cross train for these sports year around and I love it. Rolling hills, pin turns and technical trails in the trees via single track is probably my number 2 sport. Can’t get enough!

 

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Backpacking: Summer, Fall

This is actually a job for me in the summer but it doesn’t mean I can’t include it. There is something extremely freeing about putting everything you NEED on your back and wandering through the wilderness. Sometimes I think backpacking is a funny concept because it’s literally just people wandering around with stuff on their backs for no reason other than they love it and choose to do it for fun. Running and year-round gym time helps tremendously with being able to walk alongside students on a course in the backcountry and focus on them and not on my own body.

 

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Geocaching: Spring, Summer, Fall

This is a hobby I have taken up in recent years after discovering it with friends in California. Treasure hunts and the anticipation of finding some little thing based on coordinates is extremely satisfying. And also funny! Because you can be searching for something and people will be looking at you like your crazy for pacing and wandering in a field or just off a trail. I always find that it is good to announce what it is you are doing as to not creep people out. Just this month I found THE cutest little box with a log to sign! I don’t love hiking but I love hiking to find these buggers.

 

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Sleeping/Resting: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

I really love snuggling up and simply resting my body because in the 3 other seasons to follow, I find that Winter tends to be my least activity filled season. I try to find time to rest in every season. It’s the only way you can continue to persevere through the weather and also through life’s seasons. Pausing, reflecting, and resting in that reflection is EXTREMELY beneficial and a very healthy thing to pursue. In the American Culture especially it is harder and harder to do this because of feeling judged for being lazy. Self care people, self-care.

Having a hard time finding what you enjoy?

Keep trying new things! It’s very rare to wake up one day and go out and be in a routine or a better word would be rhythmic in the activities you enjoy. Perhaps you don’t even know what you enjoy. THIS IS OK! Half the fun is discovering what you do enjoy. If you are looking for ways to get better at your favorite activities year around, do some research and see how you can cross train or achieve staying active in your nitch sport(s) year around! Don’t be so hard on yourself when you have a hard or not so seemingly awesome day! You’re out there! You’re learning and you are improving!

Even though I have been downhill skiing for nearly 30 years I still have rubbish days for sure. But that’s the beauty of it. I am continually humbled by the sports I practice and am awed in the improvements I have seen along the way. I am awed in the connections and friendship I have encountered through them. I am thankful that God created me with this passion for outdoors and for the excitement that I get from participating! I am continually humbled and blown away that it brings Him great joy to see the joy I experience from these activities in His creation. That He created these places with me in mind! That He created with YOU in mind, knowing the mountains, lakes, rivers, meadows, single-track, waves, and snow would bring great joy to our lives.

MIND BLOWN!

 

Keep Adventuring.

Be Smart, Get Trained: Wilderness First Responder

December 20th, 2018

What it is and why you need it

By: Emily Cable

You meet up with some friends for coffee who you consider to be pretty legit outdoors-people. Jack and Jill seemingly “do it all” year-round. Throughout your conversation, they keep referring to this Woofer thing they just did. At first you smile and nod but then are confused because they don’t own a dog, and that sounds like a dog thing?

 

Jack goes on to brag about the sweet splint he made using his Crazy Creek chair, silk tie, puffy jacket and the remnants of last summer’s Power Bar!  Your puzzled expression does not go unnoticed by Jill. She kindly explains that she and Jack just completed their Wilderness First Responder course (WFR pronounced “Wuf-Fer” in outdoor-ese).

 

They have enjoyed outdoor activities for years and largely experienced pleasant and safe outings. But recently they had a few close-calls and began thinking about all the “What Ifs”. They concluded they needed some more training. So they decided to get their WFR to better prepare themselves to respond in the event of an accident and gain knowledge to, hopefully, mitigate injury from happening to themselves and those they are with on future trips.   

 

The WFR is largely seen as the industry standard for an outdoor professional and a mark of a committed outdoorsmen. If you are planning to spend any amount of time in the backcountry, especially if you want to work in the outdoor industry, I strongly urge you to obtain your WFR Certification. Spending time in the backcountry comes with inherent risks. From the weekend warrior to the after work mountain biker to the multi-week expedition leader, for outdoor lovers there is ample opportunity for various injuries and sickness to present themselves during your adventures.

 

How will you respond when you are miles from cell reception and help is hours away? A Wilderness First Responder has the skills needed to assess the safety of a scene, stabilize the patient, and implement a care and evacuation plan.

 

What is the Wilderness First Responder?

This course is typically between 7-10 days consisting of 70+ hours of interactive instruction and hands-on scenarios. Although some content is strictly lecture, by in large WFR courses rely heavily on experiential education and repetition. By the time you conclude your course you should be proficient in a wide range of basic medical and environmental skills.

The greatest distinguishing factor separating the Wilderness First Responder from your traditional Basic First Aid course is that you are taught long term care outside the urban “golden hour”. Extended contact time with your patient is common in a backcountry setting as it could take multiple hours to days (depending on location and severity of condition) to transport an injured or sick person to more estqablished care. Improvizing equipment is the other main difference from an urban First Responder course. Instead of all the equipment being all ready for you to use or coming in an ambulance you have to learn how to get creative and utilize the limited number of items that you have been carrying with you. Yet another added value to going through this course is teaching a broader way of thinking about items that we frequently only have one use for.  

 

 

Remember you are their first line of help. Having the skills to if needed, and the knowledge to monitor them checking for trends in vitals or overall condition could prove invaluable in any setting.  

 

Wilderness Medical Associates International describes the WFR course as:

The definitive wilderness course in medical training, leadership, and critical thinking for outdoor, low-resource, and remote professionals and leaders.”

 

The Wilderness First Responder program is the ideal medical training for leaders in remote areas including outdoor educators, guides, military, professional search and rescue teams, researchers, and those involved in disaster relief…. It includes the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage medical problems in isolated and extreme environments for days and weeks if necessary. If you are already a medical professional you can also earn Continuing Education Hours for your WFR Course.

 

Why should I get certified as a WFR?

If you are planning to spend any amount of time in the backcountry I strongly urge you to obtain your WFR Certification. Moreover if you want to work in the outdoor industry being WFR certified is increasingly becoming a standard requirement to operate in a guiding position especially. If you are already a medical professional an added perk is that you can earn Continuing Education Hours for your WFR Course.

 

You may be asking yourself, “If this is the standard for professionals why would it benefit me? I just enjoy going outside with my dog for a hike and the occasional trail run with friends. WFR seems like overkill!”

 

This may be a fair assessment. The WFR is designed to give specific training for wilderness leaders who are on multi-day backcountry trips. If you aren’t planning to ever be more than a few miles from a road then the less intensive Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness Advanced First Aid may be more appropriate to give you sufficient training to care for more minor medical emergencies.

 

Wilderness First Responder is a certification with far reaching value. The skills learned through this course can be used on a daily basis and may one day save someone’s life. What’s keeping you from getting trained?

Check out our Wilderness First Responder course offering here.

 

Sources:

Tilton, Buck. “Wilderness First Responder: How to recognize, treat, and prevent emergencies in the backcountry.” Morris Book Publishing, LLC. Guilford, CT. 2010

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness Medical Society

Wilderness Medicine Training Center

Wilderness Medical Associates International