Sorry I haven’t posted in two weeks; things have been hectic for the last little while. Saturday, July 18, a treasure hunting friend and I joined forces to look for a cache. What we thought was credible information turned into a wild goose chase, but that isn’t why I am writing this post. Incidentally, I have added the US Army Survival Manual (FM21-26) in pdf format this month to the list of E-books to win. See the entry information on the right side of this blog.

Our Search led us to a secluded area near Atlanta, which is about 68 miles from Idaho 21 if traveling on Middle Fork Road passing by Arrowrock Dam. When we were approximately 70 miles from Boise I heard a “clunk” under the front of my truck. Driving further I could hear a loud rattle on every little bump in the road. On closer examination my friend and I discovered that the radial arm bracket on the driver’s side had broken and the axle was now pushed back about three inches. It was 105 degrees outside, and we were several miles away from cell service. We decided to take our chances and drive back to Boise babying my truck at around 15 to 20 mph. To make matters worse, my truck was close to overheating so we opened the windows and cranked the heat to allow some of the engine heat to escape. All in all, it took several hours to drive to Boise, and with bracket replacement, new bushings, drag link, and alignment the bill was around $650.

Could it have been avoided? Probably not. You can’t always foresee every possible scenario that can take place while you are on an adventure. What we thought was a simple three hour drive to a treasure location turned into an eight hour major inconvenience.

I don’t take preparation lightly. I have had extensive training in wilderness survival from the military including SERE. (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape.) My truck is equipped with a winch to pull me out of a tough spot if needed, a camper shell, a trunk that stays in the back of my truck at all times containing a three-day supply of food, utensils, matches, a change of clothes, first aid kit, and a snake-bite kit. I also keep jumper cables, a sleeping bag, cook-stove, signal mirror, compass and gps navigation, a full five gallon water container, emergency water filter, and topographic maps in my truck. I have a backpack in my truck in case I have to travel on foot. All this is on a bed slide that I can easily pull out to get to items quickly. This takes up almost half of my truck bed. The other half contains tools I use with my business as a home repair contractor. If I need more room for tools I remove the trunk but it goes right back in before I go anywhere in the wilderness.

We thankfully didn’t need any of the gear other than water this time. If my truck wasn’t drivable we would have waited it out for someone to come by that could offer assistance. This brings me to another point; stay with your vehicle if at all possible, many have perished trying to find help. Believe me, someone you know who cares about you will contact authorities if you are missing for a period of time. It is a requirement in our family that if I or any of our adult children go anywhere in the wilderness that we share where we will be and how long we will be gone. If you have a gps, and you know where your base camp is going to be, give someone the coordinates before you leave.

The next time you head into the back country on a treasure hunting or metal detecting outing take this short list of items with you:

1. KNIFE- keep it sharp. (I carry a Buck knife with serrated edge on one side.)
2. COMPASS – a good one, and have one even if you use a GPS.
3. TOPO MAP of the area you are in – know how to read it.
4. WATERPROOF MATCHES & a GAS MATCH – matches dipped in wax work best.
5. FIRE STARTER – dry tinder stored in a plastic film can or a tuna fish can with cover.
6. FIRST AID KIT – small backpackers kit, include a snake-bite kit if you know how to use it.
7. PERSONAL MEDICINE & SPARE EYE GLASSES – bring glasses even if you wear contacts
8. WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS or FILTER – (My personal choice is a Katadyn Vario Water Microfilter
9. HIGH ENERGY FOOD – trail mix or energy bars.
10. ROPE- minimum 10 feet.
11. PLASTIC WHISTLE – the international signal for help is three long even blasts.
12. SIGNAL MIRROR – a flash of sunlight from a signal mirror can be seen for miles.
13. LARGE PLASTIC TRASH BAG – can be used as a poncho/tarp/ground cover.

Best advice I could give? Use common sense. Think safe and be safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks, and travel with a partner if at all possible.