No Such Thing As A Small Accident In The Woods

That’s my mantra and I’m sticking with it.  Mrakun misses the point.  Of course there are literal small accidents that may have little or no consequence.  But if you’re backpacking, then you probably don’t have immediate access to 911 help or rescue. Accidents and their consequences are MAGNIFIED by the seriousness of the injury/accident and the distance to rescue or appropriate medical attention.

Somebody who is walking in the woods, no problem; but, somebody running in the woods, with a pack, and then again in the dark, literally hours from walking out, has just multiplied the chances of having an accident, and possibly a serious accident.  Somebody who has a turned ankle and can’t walk out on their own, that’s not small in my book.

My mantra is advice to be careful and consider the consequences of your actions, further, to conduct real quick risk analysis as you walk, cross a stream, tightrope a wet log over a rushing creek, try to down climb/rock scramble, even leaving your sleeping bag out of the waterproof bag or going into the woods without a map (or not knowing how to use them).

Backpacking is a subset of Mountaineering, whether you intend to ever climb a mountain or not.  All the skills are transferable.  Even the skills of critical thinking (whether one is aware or not), to understand risks, identify objective dangers and learning how to plan, are applied to both backpacking and mountaineering. 

Every single skill you perfect in the woods of Virginia can be applied to the mountains of Colorado or Switzerland.  With the exception of roped glacier travel, rescue, and avalanches, all the skills necessary in the forest apply, e.g.  Layering to stay warm and/or dry, sleeping, camping, cooking, first aid, navigation, route planning, leadership, etc, etc, etc..

So lighten up, you’re probably ready to start mountain climbing and don’t even know it.

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3 thoughts on “No Such Thing As A Small Accident In The Woods

  1. Rodney

    We just had a big discussion on Backpacker Forums about Personal Locator Beacons (PLB’s) causing people to throw risk analysis (or what we call it in the Navy, Operational Risk Management – ORM) to the wind. People are pushing further into the wild on shorter time tables, less equiped and less skilled than ever before, because if something goes wrong…all I have to do is push the red button and they’ll come save me. I’m not saying that having a PLB is bad. If you’ve been muled by a bear, broke a leg, fell off a cliff and snaped your body in two…sure, push the freaking button! But, the problem is peoples attitudes when in possession of such a device. it’s the “I have a safety net” mind set, that’s getting a lot of people in trouble.

    Reply
    1. Phil Reed's Hikes Post author

      Hey again! I’m going to have to check out backpacker forums, been a while since I checked in. I guess you’re talking about a “SPOT” type of device. I totally agree, and you can’t believe the amount of irresponsible or risky behavior I’ve seen in just the past few years! My friend Rich brought a Sat phone to the Grand Canyon, a ‘what if’ decision, and believe it or not, there was a gap in coverage, good thing I wasn’t laying there with a broken back when we weren’t getting service!

      Reply

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