There’s nothing quite like getting out into the woods and reconnecting with Mother Nature. So much of our lives are now spent indoors that we often forget how much we need to be outside, in the fresh air.
Getting into the woods allows us to clear our minds and get back to our instinctual roots. Not only is it good for us, but we need it. At Marksdailyapple.com, Mark Sisson goes into a number of reasons why it’s good for us to get out. Here are a couple of his articles.
He even talks about How To Work Outside.
But one thing to keep in mind is that nature has it’s dangers as well. And there are few things that you can take with you to protect yourself while in the woods.
While it is unusual to run into bears in the wild, it can be a terrifying experience. A friend of mine was recently walking along a fairly busy path and came face to face with a male brown bear. Luckily he was downwind, and the bear never even noticed he was there. But he estimates he was only about 3o feet from this 500 pound behemoth.
Bear spray is a great way to protect yourself during an attack. But be aware of a couple things:
1. When you need bear spray, you need it FAST. DO NOT store bear spray in your backpack. By the time you get it out, it will be too late.
2. Bear spray becomes less effective in rain and windy conditions. Use common sense and be very aware during these types of conditions.
3. Attacks rarely occur from the front. They often come from the side, or worse, from the rear. Always have your spray in an easy to access place.
Taking plenty of water with you on a hike is common sense. But anything can happen when you are deep in the wilderness. The human body can survive for well over a week with no food, but without water, you can die in 36 hours under the wrong conditions.
Life straw is a device that allows you to drink out of practically any water source without having to worry about parasites. It works just like a straw, you simply place one end in the water source, and draw water through the microscopic filters. You can get clean water from a mud puddle with this gear.
A survival knife is a great tool to have with you when out in the woods. Knives can be used for any number of things, and can be a life-saver in certain conditions. Always make sure that your knife is properly maintained. Carrying a small knife sharpener is a good idea as well. Heavy usage can cause a blade to become quickly dulled.
There are literally hundreds of survival knives on the market. For a great list, check out the BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com. Here you’ll find reviews on knives ranging from $25 to $500. Some even come with a magnesium strike so that you can light a fire when necessary.
While we always delight in the hiking in and around Vancouver Island, it is often nice to get out and see new places. Recently we had the opportunity to travel to Central Oregon and explore one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the U.S.
The Cascade Lakes area is located east of Bend, Oregon. Bend is most famous as the home of Mt. Bachelor, one of the premier skiing and snowboarding mountains in the Northwest. Bend is best accessed by car if you live in the Northwest, and via Redmond Airport if you live more than 5 hours away. Redmond is about 12 miles from downtown Bend, so the trip is quite easy.
Once you’re in Bend, you simply follow the Cascade Lakes Scenic Highway to the west out of town. From here you can explore any number of trails.
One of the most popular hikes is the South Sister. which rises to a height of 10,358 feet. It is the tallest of the Three Sisters mountains, and also the easiest to summit. The trail to the top is actually quite reasonable with the exception of the last 1000 feet. This part of the trail is made up entirely of volcanic scree. For every step up you take, you’ll slide back down a half step. Both the Green Lake and Devil’s Lake trailheads will allow you to reach the summit of the South Sister.
Broken Top mountain is another popular hike that can be accessed from this area. Broken top offers both great hiking and novice climbing. No ropes are required unless you want to get to the very top. Broken top an be accessed from the Green Lakes trailhead.
While there are dozens of lakes spread throughout the Three Sisters Wilderness, if you follow the Cascades Lake Highway further south, you’ll find even more lakes. One of the most scenic is Waldo lake. From the Cascades Highway you can either take an extremely bumpy fire road (which is what we did) or you can drive further south and then loop back north to the lake on all paved roads.
Either way, the lake is worth the trip. There is plenty of camping on both the north and south side of the lake. Just be aware that in the early summertime mosquitos can pretty bad, especially at the south end of the lake.
All of these areas are within the Deschutes National forest. You can find more information on hiking, climbing, camping, and other outdoor activities at their website located here.