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I have hiked hundreds of miles, taught kids’ emergency preparedness, and willingly rattle off the basics of prepping to any haphazard human who asks at a dinner party.
A skill that has received zero dinner party invites.
Even with all that bravado, I fell into the icy clutches of hypothermia. If it wasn’t for Mr. BuLL, I would have cashed in my cookies and met the great cookie jar in the sky.
It wasn’t my best moment, but it is one that I tend to over-prepare for.
A couple years ago, we wanted to hike to the top of a rather unremarkable mountain.
Mr. BuLL and I consider it fun to summit mountains. It could be the lack of oxygen or the extra heaping of endorphins. Either way, we get high on using our feet to climb a meandering trail to the top of something.
This day was unusually soggy. It isn’t uncommon for rain to blow in and blow out just as quickly, but that day, the rain came and put-up shop like it was a dreary suburb of Seattle.
My raingear was good at keeping rain out, but it was equally good at trapping sweaty efforts too. As long as I kept moving, there was no problem. I may have been saturated but my body can stay warm, as long as there is movement.
We were near the top when Mr. BuLL wanted to rest and look around. His favorite pastime is searching for all things warm and furry. He settled into the drenched vegetation, while I settled next to him.
It wasn’t long before high-elevation cold started to seep into sweat drenched clothes. Goosebumps turned into shivering, but my mind figured we would move soon. I could wait a bit longer.
When I stood up, I wondered why my brain was sluggish. Perhaps, I needed a snack or some water. This is how I fix my ails, compliments of Kindergarten 101. Mr. BuLL asked me a question, which I responded to – in my head. My lips were done working for the day.
As I was still trying to figure out why my mind was becoming a giant bowl of cold Jello, Mr. BuLL sprang to action and started setting up the tent.
I was confused. It was the middle of the day and this was unusual behavior. We don’t set up our tent until we find a camping spot, which is much later in the day. My mind could not figure out why a tent was being set-up in the middle of the day. There was still so much hiking to do!
Mr. BuLL encouraged me to get into my sleeping bag. I resisted. But his words were better than my thoughts. In I went, where I curled up in my zero-degree sleeping bag and began to wonder if I was having a stroke.
As my body warmed back up to appropriate human temperatures, my mind started to piece together what happened.
I had just experienced an icy bite of hypothermia.
I had all the necessary supplies, but I failed to act because my brain became a less tasty version of an icy pop. It was yet another lesson to add to the colorful confection that is life.
Outside of my faulty human bravado, I did follow the emergency preparedness guide.
I covered the Rule of Three like a champ; three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food. (The more recent rendition is three months without hope.)
Since I wasn’t exploring a space capsule, submarine, or any other tiny claustrophobic inducing spaces, air was my free spot on the emergency preparedness bingo card.
My shelter was a tiny, packable tent and sleeping bag. There was even a space blanket that could be used as a shiny, emergency shelter or a large, crinkly blanket.
I had plenty of water in my two containers, a filter system, and chemical-laced pills to scrub all the nasties out of any poop-filled mountain streams. There was zero interest in a impromptu colon cleanse, so I had plenty of filters for mountain mystery water.
I’m spoiled with freeze-dried food. Modern technology has birthed so many glorious things, including freeze-dried biscuits and gravy, fettuccini alfredo, and, my favorite, chicken risotto. Just add boiling water and viola – fancy, calorie-rich food. On more than one occasion, I realize that our freeze-dried dinners are fancier than our at-home dinners with less cooking and dishes!
Of my many adventures, only 1% has turned into a misadventure. Even when it’s spiraled into the Land of Bad Ideas, my emergency preparedness (shout out to the Rule of Three) has prevented adventures from turning into life threatening awfulness.
A buddy helps too. Just encase there is a sequel to the icy, brain pop saga.