Category Archives: Hiking

Wilderness First Aid course – Rule of 3

WFA 2017

Every few years, I decide that I should renew my Wilderness First Aid certification and CPR training. So this past weekend, I went down to Nantahala Wilderness Center and spent two days learning and practicing what I should do if a terrible thing happened on a  hiking trip.

SOLO was the pioneer of wilderness first aid – which is easily defined as “what do you do if you can’t call 911?”

When I first took the course, it was twenty hours of instructions and we started our intensive weekend on Friday evening. Now it’s 16 hours of lecture, discussions and scenarios. We learned what to do if we come upon a hurt hiker on the trail, sprains and fractures, wounds, hypothermia and possible allergic reactions.

Randy M., the instructor, kept it lively and moving. He emphasized several important points – it’s not first about the patient. You need to assess the scene:

  • Is it safe for you, the first responder?
  • Is it safe for the rest of the group?
  • Then, can I help the injured person?

One of many fascinating thing I learned was the rule of three (3). You can live

  1.  3 seconds to make a decision and not panic
  2. 3 minutes without air
  3. 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment (not icy water)
  4. 3 days without water. Ouch!! That would be tough for me
  5. 3 weeks without food – if you have water and shelter
  6. 3 months without companionship. Our instructor referred to “Wilson” but I don’t think most got the reference from Castaway.
Shelby in CPR

On Saturday, I found out that I could also take the two-hour CPR course that evening. Shelby, the instructor, had a tough job.

All the students were fried from eight hours in various WFA courses. But she made it fun and memorable and I now feel better prepared than I’ve been after other CPR courses.

I stayed at the NOC base camp, several small cabins around a base kitchen and bathroom building. On Sunday morning, we discovered that the water wasn’t running. Not a great thing to find out before eight more hours of class, but somehow we all managed.

There are other ways to get your WFA certification, but SOLO to me is the gold standard. If you’re in the woods a lot, take a weekend to take this course – and hope you never have to use it.

The Weekend of Small Hikes

Collier Cove Nature Preserve

Sometimes it’s good to see what’s in your own backyard. While going all around the world is exciting, I know that I’m missing a lot of opportunities right here around Asheville.

This past Saturday, I was introduced to two small areas around Asheville.

I was invited to  talk about the Southern national parks and my book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South. Am I still marketing this book?” You may ask. No, but if a group asks me, I go.

Bev McD. of Carolina Mountain Club asked me to speak to her group, RossCraggen Woods – a private club with a few acres in Arden. But before my talk, Bev took me to see a view of Lake Julian, a Buncombe County Park and power plant. See the picture above.

Bev also showed me Collier Cove Nature Preserve, another county park. It only has 2.5 miles of trail, or so, with some elevation but it’s meant to be a full-day hike. I never would have seen this without Bev’s help. I always like to learn how the public acquired the land.

Buncombe County bought the 29 acres from the Collier Family  in 2012. They had already built  the trails on the property. Twenty-nine acres isn’t much but the land is steep, adding to the interest.

From Lunch Roks

Every bit of land here was owned by someone.

Sometimes the owners actually give the land to the public. Most of the times, the descendants sell the land, but not at market (read “development”) prices.

Sunday I met a small group from the Raleigh Camino group. They had come for a weekend of friendship, food and hiking with the Asheville Camino group.

Most had done the long Asheville Camino hike on Saturday, so they scheduled a five-mile hike to Lunch Rocks on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Raleigh Camino group

Only four hikers showed up because the rest were still recuperating from the 16-mile hike. But that was OK. The hike to Lunch Rocks, MST east of the Folk Art Center, was just the right length before the Raleigh group started out on their long drive.

I need to have a repertoire of short hikes, close to Asheville because they come in handy.




Storing my hiking stuff

I haven’t written a blog post for over a week because I haven’t been hiking. I’ve moved and  downsized from a house to an apartment.

No more garage or extra rooms. No laundry room with a large sink where I can rinse my boots.

Camping in the past

Where do I put all my hiking and camping stuff?

The minimalist websites that I’ve read don’t discuss hiking gear.

I’ve paired down my outdoor stuff as much as I’m willing to.

I’m down to one daypack, one trekking pack and one backpack. No more extra packs or water bottles for guests. They’re going to have to bring their own gear.

I kept a tiny stove and got rid of the leaky tent that I’ve had since Lenny and I backpacked the A.T. A sleeping bag and waffle pad take up most of the room on the closet floor. My two pairs of hiking boots (high tops and low tops) are on a floormat in another closet. The hiking poles hang from a hook like ornaments.

But all the tiny house gurus don’t say the obvious. If you get rid of equipment that takes up space, you’re giving up the activity as well.

I’m not ready to give up camping with Carolina Mountain Club or with my grandkids. The latter requires three sleeping bags, three pads and a large three-person tent. Plus a cooler, a pot and water kettle…

Hannah’s first camping trip

For the first time, I’ve rented a 5 foot by 5 foot storage unit, the smallest available. The camping stuff didn’t even cover the floor. Now a  storage unit is a very dangerous thing to have. Once you have one, you can keep putting other stuff in it. So far, I’m resisting the temptation.

I’m no longer saving my hiking uniform just for hiking.

I’ll wear my shorts and white polyester shirt, separately and together, whenever it makes sense. I’ve also been reading about developing an everyday clothing uniform, like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have. Same clothes every day – maybe in different colors.

Sign to Muxia

I wore the same clothes on the Camino de Santiago for weeks, and no one cared.

So why not at home?

Another lesson from the Camino.