Treasure Hunting Wilderness Hunting – Color or Camo?

I must admit that I’m not the most sociable person in the world. I’m not one to walk up and start a conversation, especially with strangers. Nor am I one that relishes people coming up to me and starting a conversation, although I can be sociable when that happens. But, usually it’s not a long conversation. When I’m walking around the ‘big city,’ I’m going somewhere to do something, and ‘sitting around on a park bench chatting with the locals’ is not my thing. Nor do I stand out in a crowd… other than my altitude. I don’t dress to be seen. I don’t act to be noticed. I don’t intentionally draw attention to myself. It’s not that I have anything against being visible. I just would rather ‘be in the background.’ Call it leftovers from living a life of being in the shadows.

A lot of this comes out in me when I’m working ‘in the field.’ I’m out there for a purpose… generally, treasure hunting, metal detecting, or prospecting for gold. When I’m concentrating on my activities, I don’t want to be approached, especially if I’m wearing headphones (listening to the almost imperceptible changes in tone of my metal detector) or working around or under water for gold. I’m not paranoid, but in my experience, not everyone is friendly and with good intentions. I’m leery of people I don’t know who approach me in the middle of nowhere, especially if I’m looking for or digging up valuables and some stranger walks up wanting to know what I’m doing. It’s not that I’m trying to hide either. If I were, I’d go into complete “stealth mode” (A whole other subject). So, when I’m “out and about,” I dress for success… my kind of success.

I cannot tell you how many times I go out into the woods only to see streams of people walking the trails dressed like they were trying to be spotted from space. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in wearing neon colors, if that’s your thing. If communicating [some kind of] a fashion statement is part of your enjoyment in getting out into the wilderness, by all means do it. As a treasure hunter, doing so has some inherent risks… especially if you’re successful or perceived to be successful in your hunt.

When I look for clothing and equipment for my treasure hunting (in all its forms) activities, I have a couple of basic criteria. First, it must be functional for what’s needed. Second, it must be “earth-toned,” or at a minimum, “not-flashy.” I won’t even consider bright reds, blues, yellows, oranges, lime-greens, whatever. I choose to blend in. Camouflage is great. I have a lot of camouflage “stuff.” But, camo is not mandatory. Dark blue… OK. Dark orange (like an autumn “burnt orange”) – OK. If I’m going to wear it, carry it, or use it, I want it to NOT draw attention… to it or me.

One of the easiest things to spot is a bright non-natural color against a naturally colored background. Fortunately, there is a large selection of good quality garments and equipment that manufacturers make in earth-tones… many of which also come in bright colors (if you choose to do so). Fleece for warmth, Gortex for rain proof, 400 Denier nylon for durability. All of them come in “subdued” colors. There are other technologies for modern fabrics besides these three, many of which are good. But, whatever it is, I choose ‘subdued.” I recommend you do the same.

Now for one piece of contrary advice. Always… and I mean always… carry something that is blaze orange, signal red, or at least “very bright.” Why? If you get hurt. If you get lost. If you are marking a location for aircraft or rescue parties, you need to have something that they can easily spot. Keep it handy in the bottom of your rucksack, or carry a cut down version in your cargo pocket or a pouch on your canteen belt/knapsack. But, carry one.

The primary intent of getting out ‘in the woods” while treasure hunting is to have a great time. If part of that ‘great time’ is attracting people so you can interact and do some public education while working, by all means “Dress for Success.” If, however, you would rather not have crowds around watching you detect, dig, sluice, and find coins, jewelry, and gold, then I recommend my kind of “Dressing for Success.” So, here’s to seeing you (or not) out on your next treasure hunting adventure!

9 Excellent Tips for Hiking in the Heat

Summer is probably the best time for hiking, but at the same time, you can often feel like it’s the worst possible time to go outside.

The clear skies and long, fresh daylight hours attract most hikers but these skies and long days can bake you in the heat. When the temperature rises, it gets tough to keep yourself motivated and calm.

You can still enjoy the beautiful outdoors in the same hot weather. You just need to take few precautions before heading out.

Don’t let the weather stop you from making some beautiful memories.

Here are few tips for hiking in hot weather that you should know before heading out.

1. Check Weather

Don’t just assume that you’d be fine on the trail. Hot weather comes with a lot of risks. It is important to check the weather forecast before planning a trip.

Humidity can be a sign of rainfall. Be prepared in advance.

Thunderstorms are also much more likely to occur when it’s hot. Keep yourself safe in all situations. So, check the weather before going out.

2. Start Early or Finish Late

Another good way to avoid heat is to start your trip early in the morning or in the late afternoon or evening. Skip the midday heat, don’t hike between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hike during the coolest time of day. Be an Early Bird or a Night Owl.

3. Choose Your Trail Wisely

Hiking in a shady forest is different from on an uncovered mountain pass. So, it’s important to choose your trail wisely. Your trail should include shady sections where you can rest for few minutes.

Try to find a trail that runs along running water/river.

You can get drinking water easily
You’ll be able to refresh yourself and cool down.
A trail at a lower height is preferred if the weather is going to be hot because a higher trail offers a lower amount of oxygen and stronger UV rays.

4. Light Apparel

In hot weather hiking, try to wear synthetic clothes as you’ll definitely sweat a lot and moisture-wicking clothes can prevent irritation.

It is better that you wear long sleeve shirts, hiking pants, and fine quality boots. The more of your body you can shield from the sun, the happier you’ll be.

Your boots should be made up of breathable fabric so wet feet won’t represent a problem during your hike. Your clothes should be in loose-fitting as it will allow for better airflow, which keeps you cooler.

5. Keep Yourself Hydrated

Staying hydrated is the key to every successful outdoor adventure. This is particularly essential when you’re hiking in hot weather.

Your body loses about one liter of water per hour on a regular hike. A challenging outing in hot weather can double that amount. Make sure you replenish, otherwise you’ll get dehydrated during a hike in hot weather.

6. Eat Salty Snacks

A hot weather hike will result in copious sweating. As water is essential to restore your body fluid levels, it’s equally important to restock the electrolytes lost through sweat. The most important ones are potassium and sodium. They play a major role in managing your energy levels.

Make sure to bring plenty of snacks that have complex carbs. Don’t go for simple carbs like sugary drinks and candy. You can have energy bars or fruit as they are great sources of complex carbs.

7. Take Regular Breaks

Continuous hiking in hot weather is near to impossible. Your tired body needs few minutes to relax. Regular breaks also allow your body to cool down and sweat to evaporate.

Put your backpack down, lay down, and give your body some much-needed rest. Drink water and have some snacks to restock your energy that will keep you going for the next few hours.

You may also want to take off your hiking boots and airing your feet and sweaty socks.

8. Be Aware of Heat Stroke

Be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke. Listen to your body and it will tell you when you can push yourself and when it’s time to coast. Eat when you’re hungry, rest when you’re feeling tired.

Common signs of heat stroke

Throbbing headache
Muscle cramps
Disorientation or confusion
Lack of sweating, despite hot temperatures
If you feel any of the above-mentioned symptoms, immediately find shade and try to cool down as soon as possible.

9. Protect Your Skin

In such a hot weather, it is important that you take care of your skin.

Sunburns can damage your skin
They also affect body’s ability to cool itself, thus increasing risks of dehydration.
Apply a sunscreen with an SPF 30+, 30 minutes before heading out. Put it underneath your clothes as well.
Wear a hat or head covering to ensure that your head and neck area does not get too hot. Apply plenty of sunscreen and UV-blocking sunglasses

Count’n Ounces and Treasure Hunting

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s the power of ‘Count’n Ounces.’ In my prior life, I went “to the field” in an airplane, and when the time came… jumped. I jumped with a parachute. I jumped with a reserve parachute. And, I jumped with a rucksack and LBE (Load Bearing equipment… which is military jargon for a canteen belt and suspenders) that contained everything I would have available to me to do whatever was I was going to the field for. Let’s not forget your weapon, ammunition, and other munitions. All told, everything I went out the door of the aircraft carrying anywhere from 120-160 pounds… or even more. Thank goodness, the parachute did its job.

When I started my career, we had a rucksack called a “jungle ruck.” It consisted of a tubular metal frame and a bag that held maybe 1 ½ to 2 cubic feet of space. Not a lot of space, considering everything we had to carry. On the frame (usually the top half) we would strap on a waterproof bag that carried sleeping gear and maybe a few other things. Now for a soldier heading to the field for 14-30 days, the first priority that goes in the ruck is mission critical supplies and equipment. For me, that meant a minimum of one heavy radio, multiple batteries (big batteries), antenna making supplies (wire, insulators, rope, etc.), and a bunch on other miscellaneous stuff. Next came my share of other required team equipment.

After that, I can start looking at my needs. Food, clothing, toiletries, sleeping gear, “snivel gear,” and the like. Every man had his standard list of personal stuff he took. And what you took was as small and lightweight as possible. You literally started ‘Count’n Ounces’ because you were going to carry every ounce you took. And if you could get away leaving that extra ounce behind, you did. Here’s an example: Back then, you were issued one of two types of field rations: C-rations or LRRP’s. C-Rations were “wet food.” It came in a box that had individual cans of the main meal, fruit, cake, bread, crackers, peanut butter, whatever. It also had a sundry kit that had coffee, creamer, salt, pepper, toilet paper, and a few other things. A full C-Rat may weigh 2 to 2 ½ pounds. You could either carry that whole thing… or… you could break it out and take only what you wanted and leave the rest behind. And that’s what we did. I couldn’t eat the box. It stayed behind. I didn’t want the creamer. Out it went. Whatever was inside that box that I was not going to consume, I left behind. It may have only totaled an ounce or two, but that’s weight I didn’t have to carry. Everything was scrutinized in such a manner. Probably the most valuable lesson I learned was the concept of “Dual Use.”

What is Dual Use? It’s the selection of items that I took with me that could be used for two or more tasks. Comfort, no matter how menial, was important to us in the field. If you could carry something that had a dual use that also provided some means of comfort, it was worth its weight in gold. What’s an example of a dual use item? A canteen cup. The old G.I. canteen cup was made of stainless steel, and molded in such a way that the canteen fit inside. It was relatively heavy, but you could use to heat up food, drink coffee, scoop up water from a shallow creek to put into the canteen (yes… we used iodine tablets to purify the water), boil water for sterilization of medical instruments, collect berries or other native edibles, and the like. Another dual use item? Just about every man had a “drive-on-rag.” This was a triangle cloth called a cravat that he wore around his neck for warmth (when cold) or to hang something on (like a flashlight), tie around his head to keep sweat out of his eyes (when hot), and to use as a filter for bugs and other debris from water being collected and poured into the canteen (from the canteen cup). A multipurpose knife, like a Leatherman, was also popular. It had a knife, pliers, screw drivers, punches, even a saw. Parachute cord (aka 550 cord) was invaluable.

We had another saying, “Travel Light – Freeze at Night.” Sleeping bags were heavy… especially when they got wet (Army bags are down filled). Better to take a poncho liner (nylon) and a lightweight poncho (also nylon) and wrap up in them at night. Not as warm, but not as heavy. The rucksack was the pillow. No tent either. Instead, we used a second poncho strung up with 550 cord.

Time went on and the old jungle ruck was retired and replaced with the ALICE Ruck. A much bigger bag so we could carry more stuff. Eventually, that was replaced with what was called the LOWE Ruck. Even bigger, but it also was MUCH HEAVIER than the jungle or ALICE rucks. We were issued a lot more gear, too. Technology shrunk it down, but 100 pounds of lightweight gear weighs just as much as 100 pounds of heavy weight gear. So, ‘Count’n Ounces’ was still the name of the game.

In future articles as I talk about specific planning for or conducting treasure hunting adventures, be it metal detecting, gold prospecting, or whatever, I will be giving you my “spin” on supplies and equipment to take. In most cases, I’ll recommend something that is dual use, or at least light weight, yet gets the job done. I’m big on comfort, and part of that comfort is being able to get from point A to point B with all my “stuff” and not so exhausted that I cannot do what I went there to do. Until then, start thinking about ‘Count’n Ounces,” and start planning your next treasure hunting adventure.