PAT NEAL: It is never too late to panic

AS A STUDENT of wilderness survival, it has always amazed me how often wilderness survival experts offer the same wilderness survival advice, “don’t panic.”

For example, if you are lost in the forest with night coming on and you hear the footsteps of a large creature that seems to be following you, don’t panic.

If you should suddenly come face to face with an enraged cougar, bear or nest of bald-faced hornets, don’t panic. If you fall into a river or get swept out to sea by a rip tide, don’t panic. In fact, given the temperature of our water you probably won’t have time to panic before you go hypothermic.

Personally, when it comes to wilderness survival, I like to panic at the first available opportunity.

For example, once upon a time on a wilderness survival exercise disguised as a bird-watching trip it was discovered we had only coffee beans instead of ground coffee for the morning brew.

Panic was inevitable. Panic can be a great motivator.

In a state of advanced panic, I was able to smash the beans with an ax, ensuring a satisfying morning ritual.

In that particular instance, the ability to harness panic in a constructive manner saved the expedition from the disastrous and even dangerous consequences of running out of coffee in the wilderness.

Which begs the question, might it be possible to harness the power of panic in our daily lives?

The answer should be obvious to anyone who just looked out the window and saw fresh snow in the mountains. This, along with other key seasonal indicators of the severity of the coming winter, such as the thickness of corn husks, the size and abundance of spiders, the winter coats on the coyotes to name a few, are all pointing to a disturbing repetition of last year’s “snowpocalypse.”

You remember last winter. It was like living inside your freezer with the light turned off.

Just remember, when it comes to surviving the coming hard winter, it’s a good idea to panic early and often.

It takes a village to get ready for winter. A hard winter can have a way of bringing folks together. In fact, there is a tradition in this country of neighbors helping neighbors as a way of expressing solidarity against the elements while we provide a shining beacon of humanity by enduring this adversity together.

Neighbors who have not spoken in years are often glad to see other neighbors if you find them stuck in a ditch in a snowstorm and you are able to pull them out.

Getting to know your neighbors is a good first step in winter survival. You may want to make a list of things your neighbors should have in case you need to borrow them in an emergency, like batteries, toiletries, mineral water and coffee.

In addition to the snow, cold and darkness, winter weather can leave us without electrical power for many minutes at a time.

Power outages can represent a traumatic, irreversible negative impact in our daily lives since people can be forced to endure being trapped together in the same house without television, computers or phones once the batteries go dead.

That is the perfect time to panic. Without the presence of these electronic devices in our daily lives, we could be forced to revert back to the practice of talking to one another in a manner not unlike primitive societies once did in the dawn of our history.

You were warned, prepare. This winter will be hard, cold and dark. It is never too late to panic.

_________

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via [email protected].

More in Opinion

LETTER: Resist the Borg

Nice to hear Clallam County may achieve herd immunity as early as… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: Olympic Peninsula driving guide

The signs of summer are all around. The roar of the lawn… Continue reading

DIANE URBANI DE LA PAZ: The speed of the sound of live music

WATER IN THE desert: That’s how it felt when I heard the… Continue reading

LETTER: Poverty, overpopulation

What does poverty have to do with overpopulation? As a young person… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: Requiem for a river

Spring is a time of hope on the river. The salmon eggs… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: The Orca Task Force

Last week we examined the tragic results of capturing the orca for… Continue reading

Meiqi Liang 
photo courtesy of Meiqi Liang
DIANE URBANI DE LA PAZ: A year of transformation — in place

The post stopped me in the middle of my scrolling. Here was… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: A history of whaling continued

Last week, we reviewed the industrial slaughter that pushed our large whales… Continue reading

Paul Hansen
POINT OF VIEW: To save family farms like mine, pass capital gains as emergency measure

THE PANDEMIC HIT Washington hard. The economic collapse that arrived with it… Continue reading

ron allen
Legislature: Support Trust Land Transfer for state forests

People on the Olympic Peninsula benefit from our state forest lands in… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: A short history of whaling

It’s always fun to look back at this day in history to… Continue reading

Douglas Woodruff Jr.
Come together to save steelhead

OUR STEELHEAD ARE in serious trouble. For the Washington Department of Fish… Continue reading