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Backpacking Tips

Useful little tips on what to take and how to avoid problems
with bears & cougars


Useful Trail Tips & Other Stuff

1.For a warm dry seat find an old blue foam(closed cell)sleeping mat.Trim it
into a 2'x2' square . Low weight & rolls up to tie on your pack.
2.Next time you order take-out or go to your local fast food place . Save those
little packets of mustard , ketchup , soy sauce , or vinegar . They are great
for adding to freeze dried food .
3.A good place to find a small inexpensive First Aid kit is your local drug store
. They generally have a number of different sized pouches and you can add
what extra things you need ... your personal medication .
4.Invest in a good set of trekking poles . Four legs are better than two and
your knees will love you .
5.Fire Starter : Stuff lint from your dryer into the compartments of a paper
egg carton . Melt candle wax and pour a thin layer over the lint and let it set
.To use break up the sections and light . Depending on the mixture this will
burn from 5 to 15 min.
6.Moss will grow on the North Side of your compass
7.Trail Food : Try Lipton's SoupWorks Minestrone or Knorr brand hearty
Soup Collection . Both are excellent and taste like real food . The broth is
great & they are filled with vegetables and pasta . Eating cheap was never
so good !
8.Bandanas: These are very versatile . They can keep the sweat out of your
eyes . Used as a sling or bandage , prevent sunburn , fend off bugs ,or used
as a pot holder .Take 2 with you you'll be glad you did .
9.Do not use belly button lint to start fires . See # 5
10.Take a bar of soap (un-scented) and rub on your zippers to keep them
working free and easy .

Essential Equipment

Small first aid kit
Survival blanket
Map of where you are going
Poncho or a green plastic garbage bag
Small flashlight (mag-lite) and extra batteries
Waterproof matches or a disposable lighter ...or both
Insect repellent
Candle or magnesium fire starter
Water bottle ... Better yet are the bladder packs (with tubes) sold at most
bike shops or outdoor stores.
Knife ... I prefer the Leatherman pocket tool.

Outdoor Safety " Come Back Alive "

1.Wear Proper Footwear : Invest in a good pair of hiking boots ... Your feet
have to get you in and out again .
2.Map & Compass : Carry a map of the area you plan to be in . Get yourself
a compass and learn how to us it . I suggest you get Bjorn Kjellstrom's book
- Be expert with Map & Compass-
3.Never Hike at Night : This is a great way to fall off a cliff !
4.If you Get Lost : Stay put , someone will find you. The old expression " hug
a tree " is true . It keeps you in one place . Panic can get you killed . Light a
fire if you have to , sit down & have something to eat . You will be easier to
find .
5.Use your Whistle : If you are lost the sound of a whistle will carry farther
than the human voice + it saves valuable energy .
6.Hypothermia - Panic- Exhaustion : These 3 are the real dangers not wild
animals . Be aware of the signs, in yourself and others .
7.First Aid : Saint John's offers an emergency 1st. aid course that is one day .
Take it or a wilderness 1st. aid course . It may save your life one day
8.Be Prepaired : It could happen to you ! In B.C. the weather can change
quickly . You can twist ankle or fall . Expect the unexpected .
9.Never Hike Alone : Tell someone where you are going and at what time you
will be back.
10.Be Prepared to Spend the Night : Take extra food , a warm jacket or
sweater , a small tarp or green garbage bag , and a flashlight

An interesting little gadget I found is the Pen Type Flare Launcher . These can be found
at hunting & fishing stores or at the link below . They are handy little items and do not
weight much . The signal flares reach 50m. (150')& burn 4-6 sec. the company also sells
a " Bear Banger " cartridge , which has a range of 30m (90') to 40m (120'). When they
go off there is a very loud bang and a big fireball. I've taklked to a number of outdoor
guides and they told me they work quite well . *** If you have to use one of these make
sure it goes off between you and the bear otherwise he will be running straight to your
arms for comfort ***


The Bear facts

If you see a bear this can be one of the most memorable experiences of your
hiking trip. Remember this is the bears home not yours.They are to be respected.
B.C. has a black bear population estimated at 120,000-160,000 , or about 1 bear
for every seven square km.The population for grizzlys is at 10,000-13,000 , but
you will find few if any in the lower mainland . Human -bear conflicts are
relatively rare , with 4 deaths and 25 serious maulings in the last 3 years . This is
not much when you consider the number of people heading into the outdoors
every year. Most problems can be prevented by following some simple
precautions .

1.Some people wear bells. What ever you do be heard ! It doesn't pay to
surprise a bear.
2.Stay away from dead animals. Bears may attack to defend such food .
3.Be careful near feeding areas such as berry patches or salmon spawning
4.There is no safe distance from a bear , the further the better.
5.Keep children close at hand and in your sight.
6.If you see a bear don't run : back out of the area immediately talking in a
calm voice.
7.Avoid direct eye contact with a bear. This may be taken as a threat if you
8.It's best not to hike with dogs . They can antagonize bears and cause an
9.Do not get between a sow and her cubs.
10.Be aware of what bear scat looks like and look for signs of it on your trail.

* If you are Attacked by a black bear : Curl up into a ball and protect your neck .
If the attack persists, fight back with sticks , rocks and yelling . Black bears have
been known to make " False Charges " to scare off threats . You don't ever want to have them close enough that you have to use your pepper spray . This should be your last line of defence.


The Cat Facts

If you are out hiking and see a cougar consider yourself very lucky . It is with
good reason the first nations people called them the "Ghost of the Forest " . Most
British Columbians will never see a cougar in their life time.Confict between
cougars and humans is extremely rare . In the past 100 years a total of 5 people
have been killed by cougar attacks in B.C. All but one of theses attacks occurred
on Vancouver Island. During the same period there were 29 non-fatal attacks (20)
on Vancouver Island . The majority of these attacks were on children under the
age of 16 .Your best defence is awareness, cougar attack is highly unlikely . The
cougar or mountain lion is at the top of the food chain .An adult male weighs
between 140-200lbs , the female between 90-120lbs . The biggest cougars are
found in the kootenays and in the interior of B.C. Their primary prey is deer . It
will also feed on wild sheep , elk , rabbits , beaver , raccoons , grouse , livestock ,
and the occasional roaming pet . Cougars are most active at dusk or dawn , but
they can roam and hunt at any time of the day or night and in all seasons . During
late spring and summer , 1-2 year old cougars become independent of their
mothers . While attempting to find a home range , these young cats may roam
widely in search of unoccupied territory . This is when cougars are most likely to
conflict with humans . Below are a few tips from the B.C. Ministry of
Environment , Lands and Parks .

1.Keep children close at hand and under control.
2.Never approach a cougar
3.Always give a cougar an avenue of escape
4.Do not run as this will trigger the chase response.
5.Pick up children off the ground immediately.
6.Stay calm . Talk to the cougar in a confident voice.
7.Do not turn your back on a cougar,face the cougar & remain upright.
8.Do all you can to enlarge your image,pick up sticks or wave your pack.
9.Hike in groups of 2 or more . Make enough noise to prevent surprising a
10.Carry a sturdy walking stick to be used as a weapon if necessary

If a cougar behaves aggressively : Arm yourself with a large stick,throw
rocks,speak loudly and firmly. Convince the cougar that you are a threat , not
prey. If a cougar attacks : Fight back , many people have survived a cougar attack
by fighting back with anything , including rocks ,sticks ,bare fists , and fishing
poles . *** My goal is prevent any harm to you or the cougar *** These beautiful
animals can be a rewarding and exciting experience if you are lucky enough to see
one . Again common sense is the rule here .