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The Last Day on Everest: Ending an Expedition Safely

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

An International Mountain Guide climber in the upper Khumbu Icefall. Photo Credit: Dallas Glass, Senior Guide

Expedition Experts

International Mountain Guides (IMG) has been organizing Everest expeditions for over 35 years – they’re definitely experts and the definition of #adventureequipped! With 482 summits of the highest mountain on earth, IMG and its guides understand how to lead expeditions safely, which is why Adventure Medical Kits is proud to have partnered with them for over 20 years. Check out this note we received from Greg Vernovage, the Expedition Leader for the 2017 Everest expedition. As he speaks on wrapping up the 2017 Everest season and exiting the Khumbu Icefall, Greg reminds us of the excitement of completing an expedition and the importance of ending expeditions well, whether they be big or small. – Adventure Medical Kits

Leave Nothing Behind

Mount Everest 2017 is in the books. Everyone came down off the mountain, which left only a couple days of cleanup for the IMG Sherpa Team. We dried tents, and packed and carried gear back down to Everest Base Camp.

Not Done Till Your Team’s Done

The climbing season is not over for IMG until the last Sherpa is out of the Icefall and arrives back at Everest Base Camp (EBC). The final morning of climbing started like many mornings with burning of Juniper at our Puja Alter, followed by the Sherpa Team heading out. When the last Sherpa arrives back to EBC, a couple things happen.

  1. First, a split second pause, followed by a collective deep breath, and my thought, “We are all safe now.”
  2. The second and much more noticeable reaction when the last Sherpa arrives at EBC is a group cheer! We are out of the Icefall and off the mountain! Congratulations!

Pack & Celebrate as a Team

 

Climbers on the summit of Lobuche Peak in Nepal

Climbers on the summit of Lobuche Peak in Nepal. Photo Credit: Dallas Glass, Senior Guide

We finished up the final day working around EBC: packing, organizing, making loads for yaks and porters and wishing each other well. For the final night at EBC, the Sherpa Team gathered one last time in the dining tent, eating Dal Bhat and talking as confidently as ever about the strength of the IMG Sherpa Team. As I went to bed that final night of the 2017 Everest Expedition, I could hear the Sherpa singing and dancing. A perfect end to a great season on Mt. Everest!

On behalf of the entire 2017 IMG Everest Team: Thank you Adventure Medical Kits for all of your support! The med kits got hit hard again this year, but luckily it was for the bandages and ibuprofen, not the trauma shears.

Until next year…

Greg Vernovage
Expedition Leader
www.mountainguides.com

What to carry in my sled pack when exploring and guiding on my Ski Doo?

Friday, June 16th, 2017

To even think that people still snowmobile without wearing a pack still boggles my mind!  Why are you depending on someone else to save you in any unfortunate circumstance if one were one to happen?  In the She Shreds Mountain Adventures backcountry survival lessons, I always make sure to go over what everyone in the group has in their pack before we head out on an adventure, to make sure we are prepared for anything.  I highly suggest doing this with your buddies that you regularly ride with.

“You’re out there on your own far from civilisation, be the most prepared you can be!” – Julie-Anne Chapman

                                                                                                                            

  • Full first aid kit Survive Outdoors Longer make amazing pre-packaged kits that you can add your own goodies to.  Its suggested to carry everything from band aids, antiseptic wipes, compress dressings, splints, gauze, triangular bandages, trauma/accident report sheets, etc, etc.  Make sure to keep all of this in a water resistant bag!  And it wouldn’t hurt to take a first aid course so you know how to mend someone.  The last thing they want is you trying to splint a broken bone if you don’t know how.  You ask why would someone even attempt to touch someone with a broken limb?  Well, because lets say you are very far from the trucks, you would want to make the limb immobile (make it the most comfy you can) for their ride down.  You’re out there on your own far from civilisation, be the most prepared you can be!
  • The pack itself – 18L (Highmark by Snowpulse avalanche pack recommended).  I rock the Ridge 3.0 vest. You want to be careful how much weight you carry on your back.  The Ski Doo LinQ bags are amazing to carry all the extra stuff you dont want on our back.
  • inReach Explorer and Sat phone – two way communication SOS device that relates on iridium satellites.  Incase you need a helicopter for a big bobo, or text your lover at home (when you’re out of cell range) to get dinner started, these little gems of devices are awesome.  The inReach tracks you wherever you are in the world, allows you to communicate with people via text and email even when you are out of cell phone range, and if you call for SOS, your GPS coordinates are dispatched to the closest search and rescue in the surrounding area. The sat phone allows you to have a direct conversation if you need to request rescue gear brought to the scene.
  • 40-100+ft rope & carabineers – for rescuing “your buddy” that thought the throttle was the break when he approached the crevasse really fast.
  • Shovel & probe & transceiver– duh!!  Wear the transceiver on your body, not in the pack!  Duh!
  • Snowmobile tools – hose clamps, spare break leaver, shock pump, basic kit with wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, zip ties, duct & electrical tape!
  • Survival kit – All hell breaks loose.  You have to stay the night in the backcountry.  I hope you are prepared! Survive Outdoors Longer make perfect survival kits to suit your every needs. Pack extra warm clothes/gloves, a tampon (to dip in your gas tank to ignite a fire), water resistant/strike anywhere matches, flint, wood carving tool (knife), compass, mini fishing kit, whistle, flare, bivvy sack…  And make sure to keep all of this is a water resistant bag!
  • Two way radios – You’re deep in the trees or over in the next drainage and you can’t find your buddy.  “I’m out of gas, Do you copy Bobby Jo?”… “10-4 rubber ducky on my way with the jerry”.
  • VHF Radio – to communicate with outside world to assist with things such as heli a evacuation
  • Mouth guard – For when I like to think I’m going so big that I need one.
  • Snow science tools – Snow saw, ruler, inclinometer, aluminium crystal card, thermometer, 10x loupe, field book (I call it my old lady diary, it’s the only book I write daily logs in). Always good to do your own research on what the snow is doing.   Once you are comfortable using your transceiver, I highly suggest taking an avalanche course that touches on snow studies/science. A course that will help you understand why avalanches happen. Doing a multiple day backcountry trip and don’t have access to the avy reports for days?  It’s a must to have these tools to observe what the snow is doing over such a period of time.
  • Extra food and water – High calorie food, energy blocks
  • A wood saw – We all go into trees!  It’s so much easier to saw a branch off than to flip a 500lb machine that is all tangled in branches.
  • Head lamp – I’ve seen people smash their lights out on a tree and have to sled out in the dark with only their head lamp shining the way. Frankensled makes a great helmet lamp that attaches with a GoPro mount.
  • Extra goggles/lenses– The worst is when your goggles are all fogged up and you can’t see where you’re going!
  • Extra fuel – Going on a long haul?  Pack a jerry on your tunnel.  Don’t be the kid that’s full pin all day and runs out of fuel first and uses everyone else’s fuel!!  Every pack has a buddy like that!
  • An extra belt for the sled
  • One last thing – always find out if there is a safety cache near by with spine boards, etc. or a cabin you can make yourself a warm fire in.

8 Things I Learned While Running in the Colorado Rockies

Monday, October 10th, 2016

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By Adventure Medical Kits’ Adventurer Heather Gannoe

This past August I had the incredible pleasure of venturing West to participate in the 10th annual TransRockies Run. A New Englander by birth, and current South Carolina resident by choice, I am as “East Coast” as they come. Having never been to Colorado or the Rocky Mountains, I knew I was going to be in for the experience of a lifetime, albeit a potentially difficult experience. As I mentioned in a previous post, training to race at altitude while living at sea level was…interesting, to say the least. So what did I discover about running at altitude?

Nothing will prepare you for running at a higher altitude. Except, of course, training at higher altitude, I imagine that probably helps. Sarcasm aside, coming from sea level to race anywhere between 9,000 to 12,600 feet above sea level was as hard as I imagined it would be. As soon as we heard the “GO” horn at the very first stage of the race, we took off down the flat road running at an incredibly conservative pace. Despite cruising along at a pace that would barely be considered a warm up back at home, I suddenly felt like I had been sprinting down the road as hard as I possibly could: my lungs were screaming for oxygen and my breath was very labored. At the time, the sudden perceived lack of oxygen was hilarious…but it quickly lost its humor over the next 120 miles. The goods part was:

Your body adapts quickly. The human body’s ability to adapt is simply incredible to experience. Technically, it takes your body anywhere from two or more weeks to truly adapt to altitude, however, I noticed changes in my body’s willingness to deal with running at altitude daily. Though every stage of the race started with the same feeling of oxygen depletion, the feeling seemed to dissipate faster each day, until I was running and breathing comfortably by the end of the race.

climbing

Speaking of altitude:

Chapped lips will be your nemesis. I knew that staying properly hydrated at altitude would be imperative to my race performance and overall health, so I chugged water and consumed electrolytes frequently. If I wasn’t running with my hydration pack, I was walking around with a water bottle in hand to remind myself to drink up. But despite my well-hydrated status, my lips took a beating from the dry air, and they were painfully chapped until we returned back to South Carolina. If you are headed to moderate or high altitude, be sure to pack SPF-containing lip balm, and apply often.

The weather can change in an instant. I imagine this is the norm for most of the world. In South Carolina, a summer storm can roll through, effectively cooling the temperature from a steamy 95 degrees to a cool 91 degrees, but likely adding a few percentage points to the humidity reading in doing so. In Colorado, my experience was that one cloud covering the sky could lower the temperature by ten or more degrees, especially at higher altitudes. And a rainstorm? Forget it. Get ready to shiver! Some days we would wake up with frost on our tents, only to be sweating in  the 80-degree sun just a few hours later. The temperature changes were drastic, so it is important to layer your running gear and always pack a jacket, just in case of a shift in weather patterns.

The terrain is incredibly variable. In New England, where I’m originally from, our trails are covered in roots and rocks, and often quite soft or muddy due to the lush forests. Down here in South Carolina, our trails are very dry, flat, and sandy, as is the nature of the coastal terrain. The Colorado Rockies greeted us with almost every sort of terrain you could imagine, from moss-covered trails to passes littered with loose rocks. But what surprised me the most was the high desert, complete with cacti lining the trail. I found that in all instances, a mildly aggressive trail shoe paired with a gaiter helped me keep my feet well protected, comfortable, and dry.

There’s plenty of wildlife…but you might not see it. As many of my friends on social media know, I was thrilled at the potential of seeing a mountain goat. I know that sounds silly, but mountain goats are one of the first things that come to my mind when you mention “Colorado” Further, I’ve read and heard that Colorado is ripe with wildlife, and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself (except for maybe grizzly bears or mountain lions). Alas, a few marmots and one tiny snake were all that I ever saw on my 120-mile journey across the Rockies. Therefore, if you want to experience the wildlife yourself, might I suggest that you take a path less traveled…and not run in the middle of a pack of 400+ other runners.

heather-in-a-sharkYour camera will never do the views justice. Being a social media guru and first-time visitor to these majestic mountains, my face was buried in my camera almost as frequently as my feet were running. The views were breathtaking, like nothing I had ever seen before, and nothing I ever wanted to forget. But as the days went on and the miles passed by, I realized the pictures I was taking would never do the actual views justice. So I put the camera way, and instead went about really living in the moment, and taking in the gorgeous views.

The world is a big, beautiful place. This, of course, is probably a statement many readers are already well aware of. But having the opportunity to view the wonder that is the Colorado Rockies while running 120 miles was an experience I will never forget (insert link: http://relentlessforwardcommotion.com/2016/08/transcending-the-transrockies/) . There are plenty of ways to view all that the world has to offer, but in my opinion, running through these places is one of the best options.

Get out there, and happy running!

 

 

Seasickness — How to Avoid it & Treat it

Friday, August 19th, 2016

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Plan on sailing this summer and fall? Before you do, check out this post from Adventure®  Medical Kits’ marine medicine consultant Dr. Michael Jacobs for tips on dealing with that common ailment that afflicts many boating enthusiasts — seasickness.

Seasickness (mal de mer) is the sailor’s most common and dreaded ailment; susceptibility is virtually universal. Untreated, seasickness leads to rapid physical and mental deterioration, posing a major hazard to crew health, safety, and morale. Every year, seaworthy yachts are abandoned because their exhausted, seasick, and despondent crews have lost their collective will to persevere. Unfortunately, mariners frequently consider seasickness a medical emergency, and summon unnecessary and potentially hazardous medical evacuations; at the very least, seasickness can ruin a good day on the water for any boater. It is clearly an illness to be reckoned with.

CAUSE

Seasickness results from a mismatch of sensory input processed in the brain’s balance center, which orients the body’s position in space. Place someone in the cabin of a heeling and rolling boat, and you immediately invite “mal de mer.” Below decks, the eyes oriented to the floor and ceiling detect no tilt from vertical, but fluid in the inner ear (the vestibular apparatus) constantly shifts with the boat’s motion, sending a different position signal to the brain. Positions sensors in the neck, muscles, and joints relay additional information to the brain depending on how the person moves to maintain balance.  The conflict of sensory data from all these sources ultimately activates a series of responses, which we recognize as seasickness. Sensory conflict and the loss of spatial orientation can impair ones ability to think and reason clearly. Seasick sailors often lose short-term memory and the ability to solve problems and make sound judgments.  Confusion is also a side effect of many medications used to treat seasickness. Astronauts who suffer from motion sickness in space call this condition the “space stupids.” The equivalent condition for seasick boaters might be called “sea stupids.” The trick to preventing seasickness is to avoid sensory conflict by coordinating input, especially from your eyes and ears. Simply put, if your eyes are seeing what your ears are feeling, you will have a great day at sea!

PREVENTION

  1. Start your trip well hydrated, and avoid alcohol.
  2. Eat a light meal low in fat and high in starch.
  3. Pre-trip preparation should be designed to minimize time spent below decks while underway. Prepare a few simple meals ahead of time, and have personal belongings easily accessible.
  4. Avoid close-focused visual tasks such as reading.
  5. Stay in the fresh air, away from engine fumes, and near the center of the boat where motion is less pronounced.
  6. Munch on saltines, granola, or energy bars, and sip fluids.
  7. Look at the horizon to provide a stable reference point; sit or stand upright with your head and upper body balanced over your hips, and anticipate the boat’s motion as though “riding” the waves. Standing and taking the helm will help you accomplish this.
  8. Steer the boat by reference to the horizon, clouds, oncoming waves and distant marks; this is extremely effective in reducing seasickness. It may take as long as three days to adapt to the boat’s motion and get your “sea legs.”

MEDICATIONS

Medication is generally more effective in preventing symptoms than reversing them during this period of adaptation; therefore, if you anticipate you may become seasick, begin medication the night before departure.

MARINEBonine® (Meclizine), and Phenergan® are effective as well as other medications (see page 114 in A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine for more info on medications). Sudafed®, or Nodoz®, can counteract the drowsiness caused by the antihistamines. The popular drug Stugeron® (Cinnarizine), although not sold in the United States, is available over-the-counter in Europe, Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada. It can also be obtained from www.canadadrugsonline.com. The prescription Transderm-Scop® adhesive patch, applied behind the ear two hours before departure, may cause less fatigue, and the benefits will last for three days. Review the many potential (and serious) side effects before using scopolamine with your physician. Scopace® tablets allow sailors to regulate the amount of scopolamine, which helps reduce side effects.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

Alternative therapies, which appear beneficial for some mariners, include ginger capsules, one gram every six hours, supplemented with other ginger products. BioBand® and Sea-Band® are elastic bands with a plastic stud that applies pressure to the Neiguan P6 acupuncture site in the forearm.       The variety of medications, devices, and other remedies may work for some people and not for others. Therapies are subject to the placebo effect, and there are no well-controlled trials confirming the effectiveness of many products or comparing different treatments. The protection conferred by drugs is a matter of degree; there is no magic bullet to prevent seasickness in everyone.  If one drug fails to work for you, try another; try different medications or modalities on land to see if there are any unacceptable side effects. If you discover a safe regimen that works for you, stick with it and believe in what you use.

SIGNS, SYMPTOMS & TREATMENTS

The earliest signs and symptoms of seasickness are yawning and drowsiness, progressing to dry mouth, headache, dizziness, and extreme listlessness. Some people initially experience an unsettled stomach, slight sweating, mild blushing, and a feeling of warmth. Untreated, the person becomes pale, cold, and clammy. Nausea later comes in waves with belching, salivation, and then uncontrollable vomiting. Recognize and begin treatment with prescription anti-nausea medication (e.g. Phenergan®) when early signs appear. Phenergan® taken as a pill, but preferably a suppository, will prevent vomiting and subsequent dehydration. During treatment, lie down and try to sleep. Take small amounts of fluid, crackers, and hard candy.

Sailors now have many options to manage seasickness. It is no longer necessary to follow Samuel Johnson’s 18th century advice: “To cure seasickness, find a good big oak tree and wrap your arms around it.”

Dr. Jacobs is the co-author of A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine, and the author of numerous articles and chapters on medicine for mariners and safety at sea. He is the founder of MedSail, and consultant to Adventure® Medical Kits. He practices medicine on Martha’s Vineyard.

To find a great line of medical kits pack with the medication you need out at sea go to www.WestMarine.com  or AdventureMedicalKits.com

west_marine_logo

 

How to Train for the 2016 TransRockies Race at Sea Level

Monday, August 15th, 2016

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By Adventure Medical Kits’ Adventurer Heather Gannoe

As I write this post, I am anxiously counting down the days until I fly from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Buena Vista, Colorado. (12 days, to be exact). Thanks to an amazingly generous company, a ton of fantastic friends and family members, and a stroke of good luck that I totally attribute to all of the good running karma I try to put out into the world, my partner Geoff and I will be running the 2016 TransRockies Run. A 6 day stage race that had been on my racing “bucket list” for quite sometime, but had been financially and logistically out of our reach, was suddenly gifted to us, two sea-level dwelling newbie ultra runners who have never been to Colorado.

Needless to say, we are beyond excited for this amazing adventure.

I’ll be the first to admit that training at sea level for such a race, one that spans 118 miles over the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and includes over 20,000 feet of elevation gain between about 7,000 and 12,500 feet above sea level, has been…interesting. Sure, we can dutifully put in the mileage and strength training sessions. But there is no denying that there are certain health and safety factors that we will face in Colorado, many of which we simply don’t have to concern ourselves with here in sunny South Carolina. When we can’t physically train for these conditions, the next best thing we can do is mentally prepare ourselves for what we might face. Here are a few of our concerns:

Altitude. This is the big one, the subject everyone wants to talk about when they hear we are headed to the mountains. The truth is, there is no sure fire way to train for running at altitude here at sea level, without investing in a high tech altitude tent, or something similar, to create a hypoxic environment. So instead, we are bracing ourselves for the possible side effects of running at high altitude.

The least of our worries include light-headedness, fatigue, numbness or tingling of extremities, nausea, and of course, feeling short of breath and completely out of shape. More serious concerns, and things we hopefully will not encounter, include everything from confusion and disorientation, severe headaches, and even life threatening conditions and high altitude sickness including  pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE). In the cases of HAPE and HACE, fluid accumulates around the lungs and the brain respectively, and can be fatal if left untreated.

Fortunately for us, we will be under the watchful care of professionals who have successfully put on this race for a number of years. However, it is still important to be aware of the potential side effects, and have the ability to react to their onset quickly and accordingly.

Dehydration. The decreased atmospheric pressure at high altitude forces you to breathe faster and more frequently. Water vapor is a normal waste product of breathing, thus, it is easier to become dehydrated at higher altitudes. Further, the humidity is typically lower at higher altitudes, thus evaporation of moisture across the skin may happen more readily, and without as much notice as it does down here in the swampy South (you should smell our sweaty hydration packs!). Both of these factors will increase the potential for dehydration, and as any athlete can tell you, dehydration is never a good condition to find yourself in.

Sunburn. Ultraviolet exposure increases approximately 4% for every 1,000 feet above sea level. That means, even though we live AT the beach, our UV exposure will be upwards of 50% higher during the TransRockies Run. Sunscreen, and constant reapplication of it, will be vital to avoid painful and even dangerous sunburns.

Extreme weather changes. This summer in South Carolina has been brutal, as far as the heat is concerned. In fact, July 2016 has gone on record as the hottest July on record in Columbia SC (just inland of where we live). Needless to say, we feel pretty comfortable (well, as comfortable as one can get) training in temperatures upwards of 105 degrees. What we are NOT currently accustomed to is freezing temps. And in the mountains, the weather can change from one extreme to the next in the blink of an eye. It will be important for us to be prepared for anything, from dry, hot, heat to freezing cold rain, or potentially even snow.

Terrain. If you haven’t been to coastal South Carolina, let me describe it for you: Flat, sandy, and swamp like. We are very fortunate to have a wonderful mountain bike and running park that gives us 7 miles of fun trails to run on here in Myrtle Beach. And while the single track has just enough rocks and roots to keep you on your toes (and hopefully off of your face), it is certainly nothing like climbing the Rocky Mountains. In addition to steep climbs and equally as steep descents, we will likely face very rugged and technical terrain. From a safety point of view, this could mean anything from pulled muscles to cuts, scrapes, bruises, or worse, if we fall. HOPEFULLY, none of these ailments will occur, but it will certainly be in the back of our minds, causing us to add a little caution to our step as we tackle the trails.

Wildlife. Our biggest concern with wildlife encounters here in South Carolina is venomous snakes. And I suppose, the potential of a scuffle with an alligator, though they typically keep to themselves, as long as you stay out of the water. But venomous snakes such as copperheads, rattlesnakes, and cottonmouths are incredibly common in our area. Fortunately, they typically scurry off long before we actually see them.

In Colorado, it appears we have a few much larger, much more dangerous predators to watch out for, such as bears and mountain lions. I’m certainly hoping that the large crowd of the TransRockies Run, and all of the fast elites that run ahead of us, are enough to scare off these animals. In any case, it is important to know what to do to possibly avoid attracting these animals, and what to do in the event of an encounter.

Not having the perfect terrain or conditions to train in shouldn’t be a deal breaker when it comes to pursuing new experiences or adventures. But being mentally prepared for what you may have to face, and the potential dangers in those situations, is in my opinion a very important part of training. Always be prepared isn’t just a motto for the Boyscouts, it is something that all athletes and outdoor adventurers should abide by as well.

Heather Gannoe, is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist who splits her time between working as a personal trainer and running coach, and writing as a blogger and author in the fitness and running industry.   She’s also a mom to two young boys, and is constantly encouraging them to love the great outdoors a little more, and their video games a little less.  Trail running really long distances is her true love, but she’ll never turn down an adventure.  Keep up with her adventures on www.RelentlessForwardCommotion.com.

 

 

Trail Running Safety Tips: What to Know Before Heading Off-Road

Friday, August 5th, 2016

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By Adventure Medical Kits’ Adventurer Heather Gannoe

My introduction to running was in a quiet suburban neighborhood lined with cookie cutter houses and countless cul-de-sacs. It was on these paved streets that I trained for my first 5K and eventually my first four full marathons. For years I pounded the monotonous pavement roads and cement sidewalks, and developed a love for running.

Or so I thought.

It wasn’t until I abruptly returned to my home state of Vermont that I realized what my running was missing all along: trails. The countless miles of single-track dirt through the forests of New Hampshire and Vermont were the spark that ignited my love of running into an unbridled passion. I love the constantly changing scenery, the freedom from cars and congestion, and the never-ending sense of adventure trail running provides. These days, I run 95% of my mileage on dirt trails, and will be the first to try and convince my road running friends to head off road (or, “cross over into the dark side”, as they like to joke.)

Trail running is something I think every runner should experience, even if only occasionally. But, when you head off road and onto the dirt, there are a few extra safety precautions you should take

Know Your Trails

Here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we have very limited access to trails. No matter where you go in our 7 mile mountain bike/run park, you can still hear the roar of traffic, or the boats on the Intracoastal Waterway. Can you get turned around in there, and potentially double back over a path you’ve already crossed? Absolutely. But it is nearly impossible to get lost, as all four sides of the small park border main roads or neighborhoods.

That said, this is not the case for many people in other parts of the country. In some places, a trail system could border hundreds or thousands of acres of undeveloped backcountry, forest, or desert land; taking a wrong turn or getting lost could become a serious, life threatening mistake. Therefore, it is extremely important to be familiar with the trails you are running. If you aren’t, be sure carry a map (and know how to read it.) Carry a cell phone or other GPS enabled device, however, do not rely solely on that device, for technology and GPS reception can fail. Pay attention to trail markings, and obey all posted instructions.

Pick the Right Trail for Your Ability.

Not all trails are created the same. They can vary greatly in types of terrain, from wide, flat, dirt trails, to single track lined with rocks and roots. Depending on the type of trail, you may encounter very few or very many natural obstacles along the way. If it is your very first time running off road, you might not want to venture out onto an incredibly technical, steep climb, and instead may enjoy yourself more on a beginner friendly path.

Choose an appropriate trail for your fitness level and current trail running experience to make the most of your trail running experience.

Check the Weather

Being caught in a storm is not only a cause for wet, uncomfortable socks, but can actually become a dangerous situation while on a secluded trail. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t run in inclement weather, but more so to be aware of what you might possibly face, and prepare accordingly. So before you head out for your run, check your local weather forecast.

Wear Appropriate and Protective Gear

Can you wear your road running gear on the trails? Yes…but you might not want to. Trail running shoes are designed to give you better grip on the uneven trails. Further, they are often made of more rugged materials to help protect you from rocks, sticks, or other items you may encounter on the trail.

Wearing tall socks or gaiters will help keep debris from entering your socks, as well as protect you from branches, poisonous plants, and even insect bites (like ticks). Often, the shade of the trees and change in elevation may result in drastic temperature changes, so be sure to wear or pack layers that are easy to remove or put on. Lastly, wear bright colors so you are highly visible to other runners, cyclists, or even hunters.

Bring Plenty of Hydration and Nutrition

Unlike running through urban areas with neighborhoods, public parks, and convenience stores, it is very unlikely that you will find a reliable water or nutrition source on the trail. While fresh water sources may be available, the water quality might be questionable: bacteria or parasites like giardiasis can cause miserable gastrointestinal issues. Pack more water and nutrition than you feel you may actually need, in the event that you become lost or spend more time on the trail than you expected.

Nathan Intensity Hydration Vest

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Be aware of what is going on around you at all times. Leave your headphones and “Pokémon GO” at home, so you are able to hear the sound of approaching runners, cyclists, or even animals. Enjoy the sounds of nature instead!

Watch Your Step.

Trail running, especially on technical trails, is definitely a learned art. Taking shorter, faster steps while you run will allow you to have better control, and maintain better balance, while covering the uneven terrain. Also, don’t forget to pick up your feet! Shuffling, as many do on pavement, will likely result in a toe catching a root or a rock, and you’ll be face down on the trail before you know it. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us

Personal Protection

I’m always torn over whether or not to include this one in a trail safety post, as it is certainly a highly debatable and personal choice. But…consider whether or not you want to run with some sort of personal protection item. While some people do go to the extreme and run with firearms, a more common practice is running with a handheld pepper spray. The latter certainly won’t protect you from a grizzly bear or mountain lion attack (both highly unlikely, but certainly a risk in some parts of the country), but may fend off advances from aggressive dogs or even worse, attacks from fellow humans. A terrifying but unfortunately necessary thought. Consider the areas you are running through (are there lose dogs? Unsavory people frequenting trails?) as a deciding factor as to whether or not you want to carry some sort of protection. And if you do decide to run with a form of personal protection, make sure you are well versed and comfortable in its use, otherwise you may do yourself more harm than good.

Tell Someone Where You Are Going

I know it sounds silly, as we are all adults and should be able to fend for ourselves. But if you are headed into the backcountry, or even just your small local trail: tell someone where you are going before you head out, even if it’s simply a note left at home. In addition to location, give an estimated return time so your friends or loved ones know when to expect you back. If an emergency arises and you don’t come back, this gives rescuers an idea of where to begin looking for you.

On a related note: I won’t tell you to NOT trail run alone. Sometimes the solidarity of a solo trail run can be an amazing experience, or even some much needed running therapy. However, if possible, do run with a friend or a group. Safety in numbers.

I know this post may seem overwhelming, especially to brand new trail runners. I promise these safety precautions aren’t that much more involved than what you should do prior to a road run. But the beautiful sights, exhilarating run, and endless adventures that trails provide? They are totally worth taking the extra steps.

Heather Gannoe, is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist who splits her time between working as a personal trainer and running coach, and writing as a blogger and author in the fitness and running industry.   She’s also a mom to two young boys, and is constantly encouraging them to love the great outdoors a little more, and their video games a little less.  Trail running really long distances is her true love, but she’ll never turn down an adventure.  Keep up with her adventures on www.RelentlessForwardCommotion.com.

What’s in My Pack: Summer Skiing in the Tetons with Adventurer Thomas Woodson

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

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I have a pretty good streak for going skiing every month. 35 to be exact — every month since I moved west and started skiing. During these lonely summer months most of my friends have packed up their gear and look at me with insanity when I’m searching for partners. This leaves me on my own, hiking for hours, searching out the last glimpse of shrinking glaciers in the Rocky Mountains.

As a Wilderness First Responder, being out solo can create a challenging headspace. I try to use speed and lightness to create my own margin of safety. But I still carry a first aid kit like the Mountain Series Day Tripper. When you’re in an alpine environment, you’re your own first responder. Emergency response and evacuations take longer out there. So get prepared, the kits include professional quality supplies so it’s worth checking out. You read about many accidents from inexperienced hikers in these locations as well, so I want to feel prepared to assist others.

The SOL Thermal Bivvy is an integral part of my medical kit. Environment is a great concern during wilderness patient care, especially if trauma is involved. Having warmth and protection from the elements can make quite the difference. I also carry base layers in a dry bag, which provide ample warmth underneath a lightweight rain shell in the summer, or can be used to pad a makeshift splint or c-collar.

For communication outside cell range, I carry a SPOT Satellite Messenger with my trip plan tied in with my S.O.S. message. The optional rescue insurance is a plus as well.

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Miscellaneous things… For boot/binding repair when skiing, I carry a multi-tool, duct tape, zip ties and bailing wire. That combined with a ski strap can fix just about anything.

Here are more of my favorite items:

I’m stoked for more adventure and continue to encourage all of my adventure partners to sign up for a Wilderness First Responder course. See you in the mountains!

About Thomas Woodson

I’m a van based adventure photographer chasing film projects and snow storms across the west. My passion for photography overtook my design career after moving to Colorado. Working full-time chasing athletes around the world, I partners with brands to craft authentic stories of adventure. Despite a change in tools, design plays an active role in everything I do. www.thomaswoodson.com.

The Tower of Mordor

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
Photo: Matthew Parent

All Photos: Matthew Parent

Adventure Medical Kits’ Adventurer Gareth Leah’s Pico Cão Grande Expedition

A dark tower of volcanic rock shrouded in clouds dominates the unearthly landscape. Formed millennia ago when high-pressure magma solidified inside the vent of an active volcano, its presence is foreboding. This is the peak of Cão Grande, a 370m volcanic plug situated deep in the jungle on the island of São Tomé in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to the expedition, I’d spent a year planning (mainly dreaming) of the day I would be able to visit this island whose landscapes resembled a scene from a Jurassic Park movie. It was a project I knew was ambitious on so many levels. Everything had to be carefully planned and arranged, as the island offers almost nothing in the way of purchasable goods or medical help. If something was to go wrong, we would be on our own.

Arriving on the island was a cultural eye opener. Stray dogs running wild through the busy streets, a seven-person family riding a single 125cc motorbike, a balancing act fit for a circus performance. Navigating the narrow roads that winded south from the capital we arrived at Agripalm plantation, the furthest point we could reach before being forced to continue on foot through the jungle. A 3km hike through thick jungle and we emerged at the base of the wall, greeted unknowingly by a 100m high roof that jutted out some 30m. There was no information on the peaks rock formation prior to arrival and standing at the base we gained a very real sense of the task at hand.

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We climbed in 14-hour shifts every day for 4 weeks and had only 1 attempt on each pitch to make it happen before we had to leave the island. In the end we established a new 15 pitch 455m line up the wall, which goes at F8b (5.13d). We named it Nubivagant (Wandering in the clouds).

When we at last stood atop the peak, we were blown away by the magnitude of the challenge and not just by the climbing! It had been wrought with difficulties, many of which had threatened to end the project from the start. Luggage problems, blown battery chargers, generator issues, snake bites, jungle logistics, currency exchange, sickness and stuck vehicles all looked that they would stop us in achieving our goal. However, with each new obstacle that stood in our path, we would find a solution, though none were what you would describe as “traditional”.

Having now completed the route and with time to reflect upon the island, the peak and the people we have encountered along the way. I am thankful in all that I have gained from the trip which amounts to a lot more than just a new route, but new friends, skills and an understanding of a life where people are masters of their environment.

About Gareth
Gareth Leah is a worldly adventurer, passionate writer, business developer and rock climber. Born and raised in UK, he discovered rock climbing and quickly became obsessed with adventure and the unique problem solving qualities it presented. Leah owns his own guiding company and is currently living in Mexico, where he is working to grow climbing as a community, culture and sport through development of new climbing areas, local communities projects, and industry education and awareness. He supports a number of causes that benefit climbers such as, the Access Fund and Climbers Against Cancer. See more at www.GazLeah.com.

Essential Gear for the Journey:
Bug Spray – Natrapel
This stuff works great. I like the non-Deet option and it smells great.

Ben’s Face Net-Great to have when the bugs were fierce.

Ben’s clothing spray – We sprayed the entire basecamp with it. Tents, clothes, sheets etc and it definitely worked at keeping the bugs at bay.

Adventure Medical Kits Comprehensive- This was amazing to have. There were a handful of cuts, small health issues such as diarrhea, fever, headaches, vomiting, all the good stuff you get from visiting a jungle that no ones really been too. I think the really good thing about this was the book. When people were becoming sick, i used it to help diagnose the problem and decide on a solution.

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .7– It is great to have in the backpack. It has all the essentials needed to deal with common problems. If you can’t fix your problem with this kit, you’re up a creek and need an EMT anyway.

Dental Kit – I never used it in the end, my fillings held out. However, I did use it on one of the locals who developed a MASSIVE abscess in his molar. The information in the pack gave again helped me diagnose and decide the best solution. Using some broad spectrum antibiotics and this kit I was able to clean the wound out, numb the pain and he is now perfectly back to normal. Huge success!

3 Useful & Life Saving Items You Should Take On Your Next Adventure

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Reflection of mountains and trees in water, Moor Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

3 Insanely Useful & Life Saving Items You Should Take On Your Next Adventure

So you are heading out to explore the Allagash Wilderness of Maine, backpacking in the Sierras or mountain biking an old logging road. You’ve got the gear packed and the posse assembled, but have you thought about the fact that you’ll be 20 miles from a road? That means your crew will be depending upon each other in case something goes down.

Prepare for anything and get #AdventureEquipped. Channel your inner Scout with a few simple items that could make you the hero if you and your buddies are stranded out in the wilderness. Trust us, you’re friends will thank you for taking these along.

 

The Doctor is in

Accidents can happen. Carry a first aid kit and you’ll be ready for bee stings, punctured wounds, sprained ankles and a host of other emergencies. The Ultralight watertight .9 is an easy take- along filled with all the supplies you’ll need. It even comes with a handy first aid guide and is housed in a waterproof zip lock bag in case your canoe capsizes.

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A $20 Box Could Save Your Life

Who ever said $20 doesn’t buy anything? Then they haven’t explored the immensely useful items inside the Survive Outdoors Longer Traverse survival kit. Packed into the small tin are essentials like water purification tablets and water storage container, fire starter with flint, emergency blanket and signaling mirror. The box covers the basics of water, shelter, fire and signaling. The Traverse is easy to slip in your bag and weighs about 6 ounces.

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A Knife with a Purpose

About the size of the palm of your hand, the Phoenix incorporates 8+ survival tools into a small pocketknife size multi-tool. The contents include a fixed, serrated and drop point bladed knife, 3-7mm wrench, flat head screwdriver, fire starter and flint striker, LED light and signaling whistle.

 

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How NOT to Get Stranded Out in The Wilderness

North, South, East, West, you thought you knew where you were going but now you’re lost. Of course, knowing the terrain, watching the weather and knowing how to use your compass is key in the wilderness. Check out these links below to learn the skills, scout the terrain or get a read on the weather.

Learning Map & Compass Skills

http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/blog/2009/04/navigation-basics-map-and-compass/

Learning Wilderness First Aid and Rescue:

NOLS http://www.nols.edu/wmi/courses/wildfirstaid.shtml

REI https://www.rei.com/outdoorschool/wilderness-medicine-classes.html

National Weather Service http://www.weather.gov/

 

 

Adventure Medical Kits Ambassador Rebecca Rusch Rides Rome to Trobole, Italy- in an 850km Self Supported Ride

Monday, May 9th, 2016

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In late April, Adventure Medical Kits ambassador Rebecca Rusch joined the Italy Divide Ride, an 850k self supported ride from Rome to Torbole. Here is her recount of this unique event.

Beginning at the Eternal City, Rome, riders had the opportunity to pass some of the most famous archaeological sites in the capitol before riding the ancient Via Francigena (connecting France and Rome) toward Tuscany. Siena, the Chianti countryside, and climbing the Apennines to Bologna are some of the course highlights before finishing the race in Torbole at the Lake Garda Bike Festival.

I’d already met some of the other riders at the racer meeting. The meeting was really just riding around the Colosseum and eating pasta! Great way to get relaxed and meet the other riders. There were a wide range of people racing- like my friend Jay Petervary- who went all out and raced, while others took their time and camped along the way.

 

UltraLight mat, Spark Sp III sleeping Bag, Pocket Towel, X Bowl, X Cup, Wilderness Wash, Compression Sacks, Aeros Pillow Premium.

UltraLight mat, Spark Sp III sleeping Bag, Pocket Towel, X Bowl, X Cup, Wilderness Wash, Compression Sacks, Aeros Pillow Premium.

When heading out on a trip like this I like to be light and fast, but that doesn’t mean I have to be unprepared. I choose what I’m going to carry carefully and knowing its there is peace of mind so I can go further or longer when I want to. Thanks to my great sponsors Sea to Summit and Adventure Medical Kits I can be #AdventureEquipped, which means controlling what I can control, so that I don’t worry when things turn unpredictable. Here are just some of my bike packing essentials.

0125-0290 AMK Ultralight Watertight 9 RT copyMy Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight Watertight .9 kit contains: anti histamine tablets for allergic reaction, trauma dressings (including QuikClot for heavy bleeding, gauze roll, non-adherent dressings, tape), blister dressings (I love BlistoBan because it’s so thin and really works!), anti-inflammatory meds, asthma inhaler, and a needle (for blisters). I also carry a mini knife, and CPR shield.

 

Happy Trails,
Rebecca

 

About Rebecca Rusch

When describing Rebecca Rusch’s athletic achievements, it may be easier to talk about what she hasn’t done, but, like Rebecca herself, we’re doing this the hard way.

Her national and world titles in whitewater rafting, adventure racing, orienteering, and cross-country skiing certainly impress, but they only set the stage; it’s the two-wheeled victories that really lengthen her resume. Rusch’s mountain bike accomplishments would strain the pixels on your screen. National wins across multiple off-road formats top the list, as well as record-setting victories at storied ultra endurance races like the Leadville Trail 100, Dirty Kanza 200, and 24 Hour MTB World Championships. Not content to wait for the race to come to her, Rusch also claimed the record on the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail, coming in more than an hour and a half faster than the previous champion. It wasn’t her idea, but it doesn’t take a professor to see why she earned the moniker “The Queen Of Pain.”

While maintaining this laundry list of accolades would be enough for most athletes, Rusch takes no such time to rest on her laurels. Her SRAM Gold Rusch Tour has been traveling to races and events across North America to help get more women in the saddle and riding their bikes through skills clinics, social events, and group rides. She created Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a grueling gravel road event in her hometown of Ketchum that attracts hundreds of riders to her backyard every year, all for charity. Organizations like the International Mountain Bike Association, World Bicycle Relief, PeopleForBikes.org, the National Interscholastic Mountain Bike Association, and the Wood River Bicycle Coalition can count her as an official ambassador and, in some cases, board member. Visit her site at http://www.rebeccarusch.com.