People may hear the phrase “outdoor survival” and immediately start planning a squirrel snare, but more likely than not, surviving in the woods comes down to spending the night — and successfully spending the night comes down to being prepared says Alaska Department of Fish and Game Information Officer Riley Woodford.
When they leave for the outdoors, most people understand the importance of letting friends or family know where they’re going and when they plan on returning.
You’ll need a lighter (or two — you don’t want this to be the time a lighter malfunctions), matches, which are easier to work than lighters if your hands are cold, and fire starters, which are small, cheap and sold in outdoors sections of stores around Juneau. Woodford also always carries a headlamp, even if he doesn’t plan to be out past dark, and a knife.
He’s also not a big fan of space blankets, because of their fragility, though their reflectivity is useful. If it’s rainy, the small, dead, broken branches at the base of spruce and hemlock trees burn better than sticks on the ground, Woodford said, as they’re somewhat protected from rain. Woodford favors small fires, which require less fuel but still put off a good amount of heat.
If you put something — like a large rock — behind the fire, it can serve as a good resting place for the fire-starter, and helps reflect heat once the fire gets going.
Fire exudes heat like water ripples, Woodford said, so if there’s a rock behind it, that heat will ripple back to you. During the class, with these tools and this knowledge, several groups got fires going successfully in spite of the soaked wood and the falling rain. When it comes to surviving overnight in Southeast Alaska’s outdoors, keeping as dry as possible is paramount. Wet clothes will prevent you from warming up, so she recommends taking them off and wringing them out if they’re soaking wet.
A strange characteristic of hypothermia is that those who are suffering from it often start to feel warm, Woodford said.
Future “Alaskans Afield” classes include a “GPS and Geocaching Adventure” (which still has space available) tomorrow, Saturday, July 26, an introduction to fly fishing on Aug.
They leaned the fire up against a rock both to reflect heat and provide a resting place for the fire starter.
You tip your boat in shallow water and are able to get to shore, but now you’re soaking wet, shivering and miles from your campsite.

After you dress it you realize you’re hours from your campsite, even if you can find your way in the dark. Once, when he was hiking at Cowee Creek with a group of people of varied ability, it began to snow — hard. For those who, for one reason or another, don’t have anyone to tell (or who’d just like to be more organized and informative about their plans) the Alaska State Troopers have a form you can file, Woodford said. That way, if you get lost or don’t come back on time, no one has to second-guess their memory.
If you’re in a boat, keep it in your lifejacket; if you’re hiking, keep it in your backpack. Other supplies include a whistle, a contractor bag (which is a little heavier and more durable than a trash bag), a quart-sized Ziploc bag, something reflective — even a scratched old CD will do — and some flagging tape, all kept in a gallon Ziploc bag. On the day of the class, it was pouring; the class was planned for a gravelly, exposed section of Gold Creek, but the creek had flooded and overshot its banks, so everyone headed to a wooded area between Basin Road and the beginning of Mount Roberts trail as raindrops sifted their way down through the canopy. You can last three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food.
Three fires burning on a beach, three gunshots, three blasts on a whistle are all indicators of someone who needs help.
Some other burnable supplies to potentially bring include cotton balls soaked in Vaseline, or old candle bits melted into ripped off portions of cardboard egg carton. Drawn for the first time by an independent commission instead of Sacramento insiders, the proposed new voting maps suggest the GOP could lose as many as five seats in Congress. Moreover, Democrats may be positioned to win two-thirds of the state Legislature, potentially robbing the minority party of its ability to block tax increases, the last vestige of its governing power in the state Capitol. Between now and next year's elections, Republicans must scramble to reinvent themselves, recruit more moderate candidates and find common ground with more Californians if they are to be at all relevant in Golden State politics, according to independent experts and partisan analysts alike. Then voters in the considerable number of new swing districts that the maps show could opt to elect moderate Republicans just as easily as centrist Democrats.
At a recent Alaskans Afield course, put on by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, attendees learned how to start fires, as did participants, like the one pictured, at the Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop held this spring at Echo Cove.
In fact, Democrats could have a smaller registration advantage than they now do in some proposed districts a€” and would need to win those seats to reach a supermajority in the Legislature.

Outdoor survival classes are also available through hunter education classes and through the annual Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop program. But the stakes are much higher for Republicans, who have been losing ground as hardliners have tightened their grip on the state GOP. Less than a third of California voters, 30.9%, are registered Republicans, down from 39% two decades ago.
Republicans alienated the state's growing Latino population in the 1990s by backing Proposition 187, a ballot measure created to deny most taxpayer-funded services to illegal immigrants. The GOP sought to maintain its numbers in the last redistricting, in 2001, when lawmakers controlled the maps. Republicans cut a deal with Democrats to protect incumbents by cushioning both parties in safe seats across the state. Adam Mendelsohn, a GOP strategist who worked to win passage of the new reapportionment process when the transfer of authority appeared on the ballot in 2008, said Republicans who traditionally hugged the party line in safe districts would now have to appeal to moderates, independent voters and disaffected Democrats in more competitive races.
As Republicans swept statehouses across the nation, in California the party lost the two statewide offices it held and a legislative seat it had controlled for two decades.
Party officials and rank-and-file activists have been particularly hostile to moderates, cutting off campaign cash, launching recall efforts and working to oust from office those who voted to raise taxes to help balance the state budget. In 2009, for example, after a cluster of Republicans joined Democrats to pass temporary tax increases in Sacramento, two members lost their leadership posts, another retired in the face of a recall and another lost a bid for statewide office.
But the new maps, which will be further refined before they are ratified in August, seem to have changed the calculus, especially for Republicans such as state Sen. Berryhill is one of five senators who have bucked party leadership a€” and the majority of his GOP colleagues a€” this year to negotiate with Gov. The new districts' potential makeup could provide a final push for Republicans and Democrats alike to agree on the taxes and pass a budget as they face the deadline for doing so Wednesday.
The prospect of running before more centrist voters next year "may convince members of both parties to come to the middle of the field." The pressure from both right and left will be intense over the next year.

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