Surviving in the wilderness requires surmounting
numerous obstacles. Do you know the terrain and can you handle it? Have you
done adequate planning
for survival foods? Can your body withstand the physical challenge? Will
you face animals, illnesses, or other forms of prey?
All of these questions are essential items to
consider. And all of the obstacles they imply, while not always manageable, can
certainly be controlled to some extent. You can consult maps and visuals to
familiarize yourself with the terrain. You can compile a long
term food storage list to insure sufficient supplies. You can also train
yourself rigorously for the challenge. You can also bring medications and a
good first aid kit or weapons to ward off an attack.
But perhaps the biggest obstacle posed by the
wilderness is the one that humans are least capable of controlling: climate.
While we can always put on more layers of clothing to fight the cold or escape
uphill from a flooding river, we cannot turn a hailstorm into a drizzle or a
heat wave into a cool breeze. No matter how prepared we are in every other
regard, we simply can never insure a moderation of temperature, precipitation,
and unforeseen weather events.
We can’t control the weather while in the wilderness
but we can still take steps to do the next best thing – anticipate it. Here are
a few tips to help you in this task:
1. Carry a barometer. There are several instruments you can carry to gauge
weather, but none is more simple or helpful than a basic barometer. If the
pressure indicator quickly changes, you’ll know without a doubt that something
is happening in the air.
2. Keep your eyes up. It goes without saying that you should always scan
the horizon for storm clouds and other impending weather patterns. But, while
doing so, you can also look at trees, hillsides, and rivers in the distance, if
possible. One of the benefits of the wilderness is its ability to provide
distant vistas. These vistas can give you a look into your climactic future.
3. Watch the wildlife. As you probably know, animals are much better
programmed to sense impending weather changes than are humans. This means that
unusual animal activity – often most clearly displayed by flight patterns of
birds in the sky – can alert you to an encroaching weather pattern.
4. Monitor your fluid intake. Sometimes the temperature (or the humidity) rises or
drops slowly, making it difficult to quickly discern the change. But your body
will react faster than your mind in such a situation as well as in others. For
this reason, drinking whenever you’re thirsty and monitoring your consumption
can go a long ways towards giving you an idea of changing factors at play.
These tips can hopefully help you better anticipate a
change in weather before it hits. Doing so can give you time to prepare
yourself for a dangerous situation, either by changing locations, setting up
camp, or increasing your nutrient intake. Ultimately, while we can’t make bad
weather go away, we are still in control of our bodies and – with some
foresight – we can better manage how we respond to it.