Shaking the Dust Off

Admit it. As much as we all know that any situation requiring the “for reals!” use of all the gear and preps we gather would be quite dire, and that none of us is actually looking forward to NEEDING our bug out bags, food stores or hard-earned skills, from time to time we all fantasize about SH-ingTF.

If you’re like me, you picture yourself prevailing against all odds with nary a bead of sweat. In our dreams, we’re all gods and goddesses of fitness and backwoods wisdom. We already know that if the excrement hits the oscillator, we’re better off than the vast majority of the population, right? We have mad firestarting skilz, we know how to secure clean, potable water, and we’ve trained our gag reflexes against the evils of MREs…but the truth is, if all our armchair survivalism remains just that…we’ll have to add Rascal Scooters to our Bug Out manifests. Not good, kids.

Today, I actually went outside, and learned just how much I’ve neglected the most important part of preparation: Fitness.

The beau and I shut down the computers, shut off our cell phones and headed to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. We figured we’d take a quick scramble up the 2+ mile trail to the top of the 620-foot falls, take some photos and enjoy the fall colors. No problem, right?

Oh my.

Let’s just say that I saw really old ladies in houseslippers on that trail, doing better than we did. I saw a man in a SUIT on the trail, doing better than we did.

But we did it, and we felt fantastic for pushing to the top, where a couple happily obese women chatted about how easy this trail was. We sat there wheezing, shaking our heads at each other, probably because we couldn’t catch our breath enough to tell them to take a flying leap off the observation deck.

OK, so it wasn’t THAT bad, but I for one felt the strain. It’s been a couple years since my last obsession with weight training, and I think it’s time I became reacquainted with the local hiking and biking trails. Both weight and cardio training are important for overall fitness, and I’m a firm believer that when you’re in decent shape, you can handle psychological stress better, too.

Testing gear is a fantastic way of making preps an integral, healthy part of your life. While I wasn’t going to build a fire bed or set rabbit snares along this high-traffic sightseeing trail, I got the chance to shake the dust off my hiking boots and day pack, and to give some attention to trail clothing. I was given a reminder of why I’d always carried moleskin, and on my many stops to gasp for air, I got to examine the various edible plants along the way, including some very nice boletes.

We’re also planning a winter weekend trip to the Oregon Coast Range with another whack-job survivalist friend of ours, where we’ll spend 72 hours with nothing but our very basic “goody bags.” (As in, “Get Out Of Dodge, Yo!” Bags)

And tomorrow, I get to go shoot a bunch of evil pumpkins, and simultaneously initiate a bunch of gun virgins.

So if you’re still reading this, get off your butt and get outside. You’ll get more value out of your bags if you use them in the good times as well as the bad, and you’ll help fend off the preparation burnout that hits all of us at one time or another.

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