What do you really need to survive? Did you remember to pack it?
I love backpacking and I also really love packing bags. That might sound a little odd, but I look at packing like a detailed practice plan -and the more that I work on it the better I preform when it comes to game time. With effecient packing I can carry less weight, which means I can go further in a day, which means I can explore more terrian – which is what I’m trying to do… but it all starts with packing right.
I think I’ve carried my backcountry medical kit on about 10,000 miles of wilderness trail. It doesn’t weigh a lot and it doesn’t take up a lot of space, but it’s always there. For all the days, and nights, and miles that it has been carried, it has only been used one time…
I was on a quick overnight trip with Will Moss (of MCLA photography fame) in a place we both had hiked numerous times, sort of. Montana’s Bitterroot Valley is one of the most scenic places I’ve ever been. Driving south from Missoula, the wide plains and river shoot straight across the sky and the mountains tower to the west. There are canyons that cut into the mountains about every 10 miles which extend due west for about a dozen miles each before running up to the main divide that separates Montana and Idaho. Each canyon is a ‘fun hike’ (relatively low elevation, lake at the end) and are popular destinations. For this trip, Will and I decided to hike to the end of Mill Creek, go off trail up and over to Blodgett Lake (the twist), camp at Blodgett, and then hike out Blodgett Canyon the next day. It was going to be about 13 miles the first day and 12 the following.
We set out on trail and things were going great. We made speedy time up Mill Canyon, first 11 miles down easy. There was a light rain starting as we began to climb up to Printz Ridge. It was steep, but a very fun route.
We were pretty pumped up about things when we finally made it to the top.
But we didn’t stick around long to celebrate.
There was a dark cloud formation waiting on the other side of the mountain – and then it started to really rain. We were high above Blodgett Lake and looking at a steep descent, and it was going to be slick. Will and I talked about things for a minute before deciding what to do next. It was around 6:30 PM and we were almost done for the day, with only another mile or so to the lake where we had wanted to camp. We could try to wait out the storm for a few hours and descend after, but the heavy rain had only just started and it had no signs of letting up. After some back and forth on our options, we elected for a very slow descent – mainly crawling from big thing to grab to other big thing to grab – and would try to make it to the lake before nightfall.
Everything was slick, with the running water creating tiny rivers everywhere. It was mainly exposed rock face and we tried to stick to the heavy vegetation as much as possible so we could control ourselves. We made it about 50 yards before Will’s foot slipped off a log and was cut on the rocks – and it was a gusher… I took my pack off and reached for my medical kit. Right on top was a quick clot package, which I ripped open and handed to Will. He had removed his shoe and sock and there was a lot of blood pumping out of the wound. But the quick clot controlled the bleeding and we had the situation under control…
And then we had to make the big decision.
We finally got Will patched up and ready to get back to moving at around 8 PM. It was still pouring rain and starting to get dark. So we decided to just hike out, all the way.
We still had about 11 miles and we figured once we got down to the trail we’d be moving about 2 miles an hour with Will’s injury, so that meant about 6 or 7 more hours of hiking in a complete down pour in the pitch black – best case scenario. Assuming we could make it down, we didn’t meet any bears or mountain lions, we didn’t further injury ourselves, and our head lamps work for the entire 7 hours – then we should be all set to arrive at the truck around 4 AM.
And that’s what happened – the rain never stopped. Our headlamps never ran out. We never met any animals. We didn’t suffer any more serious injuries. We didn’t talk much. We didn’t stop moving. We did make it home.
Later on when we talked about what had happened. We talked a lot about how we were prepared. We had packed right and it saved us, big time. Plus now we have a cool story.
and I swear this relates to lacrosse because…
You shouldn’t leave anything to chance. When it’s game time you don’t want to be on the bench because of something you can control.
Look inside your lacrosse bag and think about every disaster that could happen… Of course you have your helmet and your gloves, your shoulder pads and elbow pads, your cup for god’s sake. Do you have tape, an extra mouthguard, head screws, screwdriver, knee brace, water bottle, absolutely everything you need?
Did you pack right?