Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Desert: teaching me to Woman Up since 2010

Hannah+Utah= Go Outside

So I tagged along with the Adventure Crew on their 5th annual MLK weekend outing to Buckhorn Wash in the San Rafael Swell.

"Oh yeah," some dudes said, "it’s usually around 50 degrees during the day, but low twenties at night. It will be great climbing weather." I didn't bring boots, just some trail runners and some Tevas, some sweatshirts, lots of thermals, and a pair of fleece pjs- I was prepared for some clear sunny skies and chilly nights. I checked Weather Underground, showing low 40s for the weekend, but thought nothing of it.

The car I rode out in was the car with this year's camp starters: Chaison and Clark, two muscley dudes that chop wood and climb rocks. There was also two dogs, two cooking stoves, foodage, 15 gallons of water, sleep stuff, and 5 bags of climbing gear. I was confident in this adventure and sooooo ready to be out of the wasatch inversion.
it was dark when we got the the turn off.
the snow was deep in Huntington, and deep at the turn off for buckhorn.....
the snow was still deep in the desert. but the stars were gorgeous and i ran with the dogs for a while on the road in front of the car without the lights, on thinking about all the desert creatures that weren't making any noise- frozen mice, frozen snakes, frozen crickets, frozen sagebrush, frozen breath, frozen sound.

when we showed up to their regular camp spot, there was 6 inches of snow. I had never been in this particular area, or even an area similar to the "Little Grand Sanyon". so i left it to the eagle scout and survivor man to evaluate our camping situation:
mind you, its 10:30 at night in the desert in january

Q- do we stay here, or go to red canyon to see if it's any better?
A-no, stay here until the rest of the crew shows up tomorrow.
Q- do we have enough firewood?
A-the wood we do have is wet cherry wood. it needs to burn hot. we can gather kindling if needed
Q- okay. who's hungry?
A- (chase)i am... (clark)i am.... (me, realizing i have to get serious and woman up because) i am.... and guys, i didn't bring boots, just trail runners and slippers.


DUHN- Duhn- duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......................... uhhhhhhhh...............

Needless to say, it was the coldest i have ever been. simply walking from the car to the fire pit soaked my shoes, and then we had to go to the frozen river to collect tamarisk so our fire would live past a flame. And it was the second time in three months i painfully learned the lesson of proper shoe preparedness. My shoes were cold, i was a little upset at myself, but we got the fire going and made excellent burritos. It was gorgeous and quiet- new moon, desert sky- the stars were phenomenal. i looked up at the sky and did my astronomy homework instantly (i now am able to find all the zodiac constillations on the ecliptic)

Night came and i was in a borrowed sleeping bag, on a tarp, under a rock overhang, freezing. my feet were cold, my legs were cold, my bum was cold and i woke up every 30 minutes to rub my feet and legs together in order to get warm. i whimpered for a while, then had a panic attack because i was scary cold. then i got out of the sleeping bag and peed, trying to accept the cold. i did, and realized that NOBODY could help me but myself. So i shoved my coat in the bag to take up space and spooned Beige the dog with my legs.
I got some good sleep once the sun was up. Breakfast- Banana Pancakes. And I put better thermals on.

Lesson I learned that night- the desert is cold and so is winter. Be prepared. AND save my money so i can by MY OWN GEAR that i purchase because it WORKS FOR ME and MY NEEDS. i deserve it. totally. Also, i learned that i can take care of myself and i need to. Why? because i have to. My survival- physical and intrinsically- depend on my ability to survive, meaning taking care of myself and trusting my self’s better judgment in order to be self reliant.

Self reliance is more than just food storage and having a successful emergency zombie-attack survival plan. Self reliance is knowing exactly what you need to survive in comfort and in health. I survived through the night, and without frost bite- yet I was really, really cold. Survival, as a way of life, is more than just living through the night. Its survival of your human element. Think Cast Away:

So after the coldest night of my life, another third of the crew showed up around noon- uncle bacon, Erica, the wizard, and some dudes from arizona. one of the dude's laughs is exactly like my uncle david's. We decide to stay in the alcove for the next night- but this time I am borrowing a sleeping bag and sleeping in a tent at night. MUCH warmer. And we spend most of the afternoon sunlight gathering more kindling and finding dead trees felled by beavers for firewood.

SURVIVAL TIP: when gathering firewood away from camp, fashion a sled out of the wood. This way, three girls can return to camp with enough firewood for 20+ hours of fire. And then boys chop it and build a fire while the girls give eachother manicures and have babies.

After dark, the rest of the crew showed up and they brought great firewood. At one point, someone through 8 logs on the fire, for we had waxed rich in firewood bounty.

The next day, I fell in a frozen river. This one in fact:

But I caught myself on the ice before I submerged and pulled myself out before I knew what was happening. I ran out of the slot canyon and up to the cars- about 2 miles- because I knew the three, wet layers of cotton on my legs would chill me to the bone and the two pairs of soaking socks in canvas shoes would freeze around my foot if I walked coolly out the canyon, through 6 inches of snow.

It was kind of fun- turning to my friends and saying “no… you guys go ahead… I gotta get out of here before I die” and then running in order to save my extremities from certain ice cubage. My friends did turn around, taking my dip as a sign from the river gods, and James Clark ran out with me- encouraging me to keep moving.

I got back to the car, to fresh thermals, to fleece pajama bottoms, and dry socks, and was in shock for about an hour. I warmed up after two. I am so grateful for what I have, but I know that I can have exactly what I need when I need it. By using my resources (financial, energy, skills) to acquire what I need, rather than what I want, I can become self reliant. It is like food storage, but on the scale of my whole being rather than just food.

And I’ve discovered Multi Grain Wasa Bread. 13 gram of fiber in a serving. Peanut Butter the top+ walnuts, cranberries, and semisweet chocolate pieces= survival of the fittest.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Winter Survival Tips

This is another list from Carolyn Nicolaysen's article, "Surviving the Hazards of Winter Travel". You may think the list looks extreme, but survival is key to a healthy life :). Thus, personal preparedness for emergencies is extremely important. With a little time gathering the items we already own, and a small investment to buy a few others, we can all be better prepared and survive quite well, any winter challenge that awaits us.

These tips apply to traveling by car, for road trips, peaceful drives up Provo Canyon, the joy ride to Utah Lake, or your daily commute to work. However, consider applying these tips in your everyday life! Designate a bag/backpack with a 72 hour kit and items that increase your chance of healthy and successful survival.

1. Glow sticks/Flashlight (self winding) for light during the nighttime hours for you and to make you more visible to rescuers. I love the 10-inch glow sticks that are sold with a bipod. These are great to use in place of flares, to mark a path, to direct traffic after an accident or during an emergency or to signal rescuers at night. They can be seen for a mile.

2. Work gloves to change a tire or put on chains and Warm gloves/Snowproof gloves, because it gets freaking cold and you'll need your fingers for many things.

3. Snow chains for cars. And the bottom of your shoes if you're hardcore.

4. Sand or kitty litter to help with traction if your car spins out in the snow. Or you meet friendly hermit crabs and cats doing the potty dance.

5. A small shovel to build a snow cave or dig out a car. VERY VERY VERY important.

6. Waterproof matches or lighter.

7. A metal container to melt snow for drinking.

8. A mirror, flares, or extra mylar blanket to signal rescuers. Fireworks may also work by attracting police officers to your position (from my non-emergency firework experience: loud and obnoxious illegal fireworks work best in attracting police officers to my non-emergency position, but i don't recommend this as an emergency backup plan. )

9. An umbrella . Instant shelter. Eric, from Vale, Arizona, tells us that Ray Jardine, in his book Beyond Backpacking, says an umbrella is one of the most useful tools in his arsenal for long distance hiking. It allows him to keep hiking when unfavorable weather has other hikers holed up for the duration. He goes on to say that when hiking in the desert in summer, covering his umbrella with a space blanket allows him to hike in the daytime when it would otherwise be infeasible. It places the entire body in the shade, which no hat can do. Consider these possibilities for umbrella and mylar blankets in summer. A tent will also work, but not while you are walking.

10. Safety vests to be worn so you can be more easily seen by rescuers or while near the roadway (bright orange vests, cheap ones). You will all be safer if you need to leave the car, and each passenger wears one. These can also be attached to your car as a distress signal.

11. Cell phone charger for the car, or a wind-up charger.

12. Small candles . If placed on the dash this will help keep the air in the car above freezing. Candles will provide you battery-free and useful light- as well as ambiance. BUT don't go to sleep and leave it lit. You can also run your car engine for 10 minutes every hour to warm the car and charge the phone. Make sure before running the engine that the tail pipe is not blocked. Also, leave a window, which faces away from the wind, open very slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have room, I recommend carrying some firewood around. Carrying firewood around has never hurt any of my adventures, and has come in handy on every camping trip I've been on. Fire = warmth, signal, and cooking.

13. Wool blanket or sleeping bag. And if you can, there's no harm in carrying around a sleeping pad.

14. Knit cap and mittens . Most of your body heat is lost through your head, so the cap is important. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Remember wool or manmade fibers are better in cold/wet weather than cotton. I always carry gloves and a hat, as well as a bandanna.

15. Body warmers , the instant heat type. Make sure when purchasing these that you buy the ones rated for 20 hours, not 20 minutes. These are small and easy to stash in your auto emergency kit. But don't eat them.

16. A whistle can be heard much further away than the human voice. I would have at least 2 in the car. If one member of your party needs to leave to look for help you can signal each other every few minutes and help guide them back to the car. It is not wise for anyone to leave alone, and go further away than “whistle distance.” It is just too easy to become disoriented and lost. If in a group, its good to have a call in order to communicate safety to members of your group. At girls camp, i learned a call that started with ".. High low, minnie minnie cow cow.." and used it often on hikes. When I go climbing or hiking, we constantly use our calls in order to check in with or locate other crew members. I use the call of a morning dove as a signal.

17. Flashlight with extra batteries and an extra bulb.*

18. A portable radio is great to hear news and weather reports without draining your car battery. Make sure you have both AM and FM bands. Look for the ones that are also a flashlight and siren. Handcrank and solar power portable radios are SUPER! If purchase a portable radio, make sure it is powered by handcrank and/or solar powered. Its the best idea. Seriously

19. Tool kit. Tools like screwdrivers and wrenches are already SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO useful. Why not keep some in your car? Also, Leatherman makes fantastic multi-tool utility knives (among other fine and useful products). These are easy to carry around and small enough to keep in a pocket or car compartment. I never travel without mine, unless i'm going on a plane.

20. Tow rope, slack line, or climbing rope . Some people who could help pull you out of the ditch are not equipped with a rope. Think of how smart you will look, when you say “I've got one!”. Also, its just a great idea. You can use a rope to make a lean-to, clothes line, safety line, leash, lasso, snares, and whatever else you need. It holds things together, and is also one of those things I use constantly, at home or on wilderness adventures. And did i mention they make lassos?

21. Maps . I LOVE MAPS! When you are traveling, pay attention to where you are on a map. You will be able to locate water and people SO MUCH easier if you are using an up-to-date map . If you don't know where you are, how will you find where you want to go?

22. Compass . Know how to use it? The arrow points north. Unless you are in the Bermuda triangle.

23. Roll of TP . Essential.

24. Fire extinguisher . What good is your emergency gear if it's burning up with the car? More than once, we've seen cars fully ablaze at the side of the highway, and not from a traffic accident. Gasoline + heat + leaking fuel line = fire.

25. WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!- This goes for car, travel, or home. Store and transport in thick plastic, metal, or glass containers- our stake says "use only food grate containers". Thin plastic containers can get warm and melt chemicals into your water, as well as be porous and allow contamination easier. But there are a certain types of plastic that are okay to store water in- heavier plastics and PETE or PET plastic containers. I stick with metal and glass containers for travel, plastic for home.


            • DO NOT use plastic milk containers.
            • DO NOT use a container that was previously used for non-food products (ie. gasoline, nuclear waste, nails, ect )
            • Containers should be emptied and refilled regularly (weekly or bi-weekly).
            • Clean each container thoroughly and sanitize before use. A sanitizing solution can be prepared by adding 1 teaspoon of liquid house hold chlorine bleach to one quart of water - only use household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives.
            • Always keep at least a three day supply of fresh drinking water (our stake recommends one gallon per day)

Lists like this one, along with the LDS church preparedness guidelines (found at, suggestions from your grandmother and others will help you become personally prepared! Share them, and even add to them. But mostly, these suggestions are to get you thinking about what you can do to become personally prepared. You may never face an emergency or need to use these suggestions; but if you do need them, they will be priceless.

You can follow these steps, use them as guidelines, or add to this list. Remember, preparedness is for the well being of yourself and the people around you. Please share this info to any family or friends that may find it useful!

-Hannah Smith

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On-the-go Preparedness and Winter Travel Tips

(adapted from my grandma's newsletter)

I know it comes after the holiday season, but I hope you will read this if you are FLYING anywhere, DRIVING anywhere, or TRAVELING at all. Dangerous road conditions and grounded flights, due to natural or manmade (e.g. terrorist) disasters, can have far reaching consequences for any of us who travel unprepared.

I have added my personal advice to these excellent, creative, and practical suggestions from Carolyn Nicolaysen's article "Surviving the Hazards of Winter Travel" to help us be prepared for any such travel exigency. Again, even if you are just driving around the "happy valley" or flying into Denver for the weekend, it is important to consider carrying some of these items in your car in case of any emergency.

"Carry-On" Essentials:

Next time you or a family member is traveling, especially during the winter months, there are a few things you should be sure to include in your baggage.

1. Carry your cell phone charger : A cell phone is no use without a charge. Unless you use it for slingshot ammo or a doorstop.

2. Emergency ID Card : Always carry an emergency card with your name, home address, allergies, and medical conditions, in your carry-on bag. Also, carry phone numbers for family and friends. When stressed, we can forget these numbers.

3. Carry cash . Small bills are best. Don't be caught short.

4. Carry some food for backup . Carry a few high-calorie bars like those in a 72-hour kit. For best taste and energy, I recommend (my fav-Black Cherry and Almond) Clif Bars or Luna Bars. For your travel day, pack a lunch with variety. I usually carry a self made mix of nuts and dried fruits- for example pecans, cranberries, and granola. Avoid salty foods that will make you thirsty like beef jerky and saltines. I always travel with fresh fruits and veggies, and recommend

5. Drinks . Airports won't let you bring water through security any more, but you can ALWAYS carry a container. Metal containers and thick plastic containers are the best for carrying and storing water and other fluids. Glass containers are also very healthy and good for storing and carrying. ALWAYS CARRY A WATER CONTAINER!!!!!!!!!

6. Vitamins . This in not necessary, but a good idea if you have some already. You can get all of your vitamins from a healthy diet that includes a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

7. Medications . Always carry your prescriptions in your carry-on bag. Add pain relievers, stomach medication, cold relievers — you know the drill.

8. Change of clothing . Include a change of underwear and a clean shirt in your baggage. It is amazing how much better a change of clothes makes you feel.

9. Personal hygiene items . You can get toothpaste, bars of soap, shave cream, deodorant, almost anything, in travel sizes now. All of these will be some of the first things to sell out at the shops, not to mention feminine supplies. Anything you couldn't live without goes in the carry-on.

10. Mark your luggage in a unique way . Its yours. Make it yours. I sew patches onto my bags.

11. Insect repellent and sunscreen. Sounds crazy, I know, but I would really rather not be bug bait or painfully sunburnt.

12. Pack a diversion . Ipods run out of charge quickly. I recommend packing an entertaining book or small projects such as sewing, crocheting, making necklaces, or anything else to get your mind off stress or take a break from being serious.

13. Mylar survival blanket, extra thermals or coats, SOCKS!!, WARMTH!!! . If you are lucky enough to get a blanket you will want to use it as a covering and that leaves you sleeping on a filthy floor. Place your mylar blanket on the floor and even though you may still be visited by insects, the surface under you is clean, and the foil side of your blanket will reflect and retain your body heat.

14. Travel soft . This is especially important when traveling by plane or bus in case you need to rest a bit, or set up camp for the night. Most airlines don't allow personal blankets or pillows on the plane anymore, but I usually travel with a fleece blanket that doubles as a poncho. Big or comfortable sweatshirts have the same purpose. If your driving or riding the bus, I recommend carrying a sleeping bag (you cant get lightweight ones, and even rent them from BYU outdoor's unlimited if you want to be super prepared)

Moist towelettes . When you are stranded, or help and supplies can't reach you- restrooms run out of supplies (like TP), food courts and stores run out of napkins and other paper products Kleenex. Again, if you NEED it, bring it.

Lists like this one, along with the LDS church's preparedness guidelines (found at and suggestions from your grandmother and other people will help you become personally prepared! Share them, and even add to them. But mostly, these suggestions are to get you thinking about what you can do to become personally prepared. You may never face an emergency or need to use these suggestions; but if you do need them, they will be priceless.

You can follow these steps, use them as guidelines, or add to this list. Remember, preparedness is for the well being of yourself and the people around you. Please share this info to any family or friends that may find it useful!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sprout Spouts, now featuring purpose and meaning :)

Due to my church calling as "Ward Emergency Prepared Specialist", Sprout Spouts will have purpose as a blog.

I will share information regarding Emergency Preparedness, such as links, articles, readiness tips, disaster response systems/guidelines, as well personal survival techniques. A lot of the information will be tailored to young single adults and college students, but all of the information can be easily applied to anyone and everyone. Just remember, prepare for people in your house and your family as well as yourself.

First off, everyone should have 72 hours of fresh water (stored in metal, glass, or thick (not thin, and not milk cartons) plastic containers). For storage needs, everyone should have two weeks of food and two weeks of water. For emergency needs, everyone should have 72 hours of food.

In any emergency or disaster, 3 days of food and water gives you the energy and clarity needed to insure survival. Being prepared never hurt anyone. Start now, and you'll find its easy to be prepared. And if anything, pretend that zombies attack- then think about your personal preparedness.

FIRST SURVIVAL RULE: FIND WATER, make sure its drinkable and if not- then make it so. If you can't find a water source, then suck the dew off plants in the morning, or suck the juice out of an eyeball, or go Bear Grills and press some poo.