Understanding the elements while you #GetOutdoors is very important! Knowing what dangers you could face, such as quick moving storms or flash flooding, will keep you vigilant. Not every place you visit will be the same. I don’t necessarily need to worry about flooding where I live in the city of Page because it is on top of a mesa, but I do need to consider it when I drive down into Glen Canyon and start hiking around. Just because it isn’t currently raining doesn’t mean it won’t flood, either. Read signs, be aware of your surroundings,and ask a Ranger if you’re on public lands! They are here to help.Signs are placed where they are for a reason. Don’t dismiss warnings or believe that you “know better”. Nature will always win. Don’t be a statistic!
Clinton and I spent a summer working in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Cooper Landing, Alaska. The area is gorgeous – just sitting near Skilak Lake and watching the world go by (or lack thereof) was amazing, and definitely worth a summer experience. Reality is that it was extremely cold even though it was summer, the mosquitoes were intense, and the weather on Skilak Lake could be unpredictable. Living in yurts all summer meant that when it dipped below freezing (very common in Alaska over the summer) you had yourself, your sleeping bag, and whatever thermal clothes you packed for the summer. I was uncomfortable for the first few weeks until I was given the fantastic advice to get a water bladder. I would heat water each night and put into the bladder, and then hold it to my stomach when I went to bed. It would warm me substantially so I could actually fall asleep comfortably. I adapted to the colder temperatures by listening to the advice from the people around me who had lived in these types of conditions previously. Another consideration was the weather. The Harding Icefield is so large that it can create its own weather, including fast moving and powerful storms. Knowing this came into focus many times while crossing the lake with passengers or stores (groceries, etc) for the week. There were a few times that halfway through the trip a storm would form and hit us pretty hard, which meant knowing how to navigate over fairly high waves and fierce wind. Did I mention that the water was from an ICEFIELD? Yep, glacier water is pretty cold!
We lived in the complete opposite climate to Alaska when we were working in Death Valley National Park near the Panamint Mountains. Another gorgeous area but area knowledge was again key. Don’t drive off the road – it is very sandy and your car will get stuck. Don’t think your 4 wheel drive or all wheel drive will necessarily help you here,either. Realize that the desert, even in the winter, completely zaps your hydration without you realizing. It is recommended that you drink at least one gallon of water a day per person, and if that sounds like a lot it isn’t! DRINK WATER! When we left to hike, we always made sure we had more than enough water for the two of us. We packed salty snacks and dressed appropriately. We packed extra fluid for the car and an extra set of clothes in case we ended up needing to stay the night somewhere. Death Valley is another area where the surrounding landscape influence an area in the distance. It could rain high up in the mountains and by the time it reaches the valley where we were hiking it was a torrential river that could include rocks or clay. It is extremely dangerous, so when hiking in areas prone to flash flooding make sure you always see your way out, or even avoid it altogether. In 2015 a flash flood in Death Valley destroyed roads and heavily damaged historical structures at Scotty’s Castle. The buildings in the way of the flash flooding ended up filled with mud. Water is not kidding around – it will find a way through!
Do your research and make sure you understand what type of situation you are about to put yourself in. There are essentials you should bring all the time no matter what the circumstance, and things to pack to make your life more convenient. Life is about the journey, so if you want to stop to smell the flowers or take your millionth selfie, go for it! There is so much to enjoy outdoors, even if you’ve been there a thousand times. The #TravelingTalleys hope that you will continue to enjoy the Great Outdoors and only want to inspire you to be smart about your adventures. Until next time!