People ask why I’m always pushing MEC products!

Yes, it’s a fair question!

During most, but not all of my posts, I tend to make recommendations of equipment to do with hiking, climbing, walking etc.

And most times, my recommendations come from my favorite equipment company, MEC.

Why do I recommend them? Well, it’s a little difficult to fully explain….reminds me of what my grandfather used to say about things he was comfortable with….”Son…it’s like an old pair of slippers…sure theyre worn out, but I feel comfortable in them…!”

So it’s not to say that I haven’t used other suppliers for my stuff, but I keep coming back to MEC time after time.

Not only do they supply a whole load of comprehensive equipment, and have been for coming up to almost 50 years or so now, but they have such enthusiastic people working there…often times, I get a whole lecture about whatever I may be into, be it walking, climbing etc. But that’s not to say the employees are over-bearing..far from it…they are simply enthusiastic, all of them being outdoors people themsleves, too!

And the advice I get is not over-the-top like in some places, where any fool can tell that the salesperson is out to nab a sale!

Then there’s MEC’s interaction with the community. And this for me, and countless others who use it, is the final decider.

It’s what is the core of MEC that brings a smile to everyone who finds out…it is a co-operative, which means that everyone who buys a share in the company is entitled a voice in the running of it. Like myself…I bought a share in the place because I like what they’re doing, which means giving back to the community as well, not just making a quick buck and running away!

So that in a nutshell are just one or two reasons why I use MEC and always heartily recommend them. Over the years, I hope to talk a lot more about the company and how it works etc, but for the time being, if you want to know more, click here to go to their website….and happy reading!

😉

Backpacking, climbing, walking and hiking safety

While nothing makes a more memorable backpacking, hiking, or mountain climbing trip that a genuine emergency, ending up dead is not a good story for those involved.

Growing up in the sticks and spending a lot of time outside, I have had a few real emergencies in my life.

I’ve been lost once. I’ve overreached on a hunting trip in cold weather and ended up huddled over a fire to thaw out myself.

Fortunately, I knew where I was as the only thing that I had to start a fire with was my map! However, I am not an expert on mountain climbing, but these tips will work for those brave souls who do participate in this sport.

The first thing that all backpackers, mountain climbers and hikers need is a first aid kit. While most of the stuff in a first aid kit purchased at a large retailer is junk, you do need some antibiotic ointment, sterile bandages, and other first aid items.

You also need the knowledge to make splints for broken legs, treat hypothermia, and more. Knowing the signs of problems and addressing it before it gets out of hand is indispensable, especially in the outdoors.

The second thing that all backpackers, hikers, and mountain climbers need is a way to signal for help. Cell phones are unreliable in the middle of nowhere. Not only can there be signal problems, but also batteries die and phones can become broken.

A pocket sized signal mirror is a great item to have in case of emergency. Signal mirrors only cost a few bucks and take up very little space in a backpack or pocket.

The third item is a note. Yes, a note. Not only should people back home know where you are going and when you are coming back, but first responders need help finding you as well.

When going on a mountain climbing, hiking, or backpacking expedition leave information on your route and planned return with a park ranger or other responsible person. If this is not an option, leave this info in plain sight on the dashboard of your vehicle. If theft is a concern (you might not want everyone knowing that you won’t be back to your car in three days) only leave location information in plain sight.

Backpacking, hiking, and mountain climbing are all great ways to enjoy the outdoors, but you want to come home safely. Remember these three items along with the obvious ones to assure a safe return.

This is not a definitive article by all means, but if the information given here can save even one life, then it is worth it’s weight in gold.

A copy of this article also appears in the “Safety and First Aid” page of this blog.

Forget the afterlife..make a difference here!

A contentious subject….what happens to us after we die, both in the physical and metaphysical sense.

I bring up this point as a person who has made a choice, a personal choice, to take part in an activity that could lead to the loss of my life. Yes, I know…it sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But it’s a fact.

Every year, there must be thousands of people all over the world who die due to taking part in just such hobbies as mine, namely hiking, climbing, etc.

That is a risk we have to take, albeit a calculated risk. Even crossing the road from one sidewalk to the other could quite easily result in death, so does that mean we don’t venture out of our houses? No, of course it doesn’t.

But what is really shocking is that well over 50% of the population still do not bother to become organ donors, if the worst case scenario were to happen.

Some say it is an insult to the dignity of the dead person if his/her organs are removed. Some say their religion does not allow it. Some just don’t know what it is, but they will not allow it.

Let’s take the religion thing first. There is not a shred of evidence anywhere, correct me if I am wrong, that removing organs from a dead person is taboo. Aside of the religious pundits, who BELIEVE there is a life after death, and that somehow leaving this life with a full set of organs is  somehow a prerequisite of gaining a foothold in the afterlife, nobody has ever proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is afterlife. In my opinion, and I do hope I’m not upsetting anyone with my conjectures, these beliefs belong to the days of the Pharaohs and maybe even earlier. We are in the 21st century now and need to change with the times….a tree that doesn’t bend in the wind will break and die……

So why not donate your organs?

On the other hand, logically, if a person donates their organs after death, then he/she will give life, after death, to someone else. Isn’t that life after death? I believe it is.

And a friend of mine who is a physician, once told me that a total of NINE people can be given new lives, from the organs of just one donor.

Let’s think about that awhile…then make your decision.

 

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Always buy the best equipment you can afford….

I was just watching that film about the guy who fell down and trapped his arm in a rock fissure in Colorado whilst walking alone in the desert…guy called Aron Ralston.

If you look past the gory bits and the movie scenes, you can learn an awful lot from that film I think.

Like always letting everyone know where you’re going, when you’ll be back etc. That guy, in his self-assured manner, failed this first essential of going out walking, hiking or climbing in remote areas. So when he fell into trouble, nobody knew what had happened to him ro where.

The second very important point is to try and have a partner with you if at all possible. I’m afraid I must put up my hands here on this one, as I rarely have anyone with me; my reason, silly as it may seem to you, is that having someone with me somehow robs me of the solitude, the silence I am constantly seeking. The funny thing is, it is that silence and solitude that could, if things went wrong, work against me one day. having a partner can be of enormous help if you get into difficulties.

Thirdly, Aron didn’t have a cellphone with him. Much as I hate the relentless march of technology and how it continues to intrude into our daily lives, a cellphone is a virtual necessity these days, and if you are injured or stuck in dire circumstances during a hike or climbing session, a phone call can mean the difference between life and death. So always, always, always try and carry at least one working, fully charged cellphone. I know of friends who carry 2 cellphones with them, in case one fails.

Finally, regarding what happened with Aron in that rocky fissure. Because he was unlucky enough to get his arm trapped between a falling rock etc, he had no choice but to actually hack his own arm off….yes, you read right…he made the agonizing decision to cut his arm off, or face certain death within days.

And when it came to carrying out the grisly task, he used the only thing available, the knife in his multi-tool. that unfortunately proved to be of inferior quality and he had a lot of trouble cutting through his flesh, as he joked about his in a recording he made with his camcorder, “..always make sure the multi tool you buy is not Made in China!

The moral there of course is to buy equipment that has proven reliability and is durable. Again, talking about Aron….if his tool had broken up in use, and he had failed to sever his arm, he would not be alive today.