We all know that ENOpians love the outdoors. Most of you can’t wait to go play in the backcountry in your off time. When we delve into the depths of the forest however, there are many skills that we must possess in order to respect the land and protect ourselves. Including wildlife safety. Every time you frolic into the wilderness to find your next two perfect trees to string your hammock up-watch out for the critters! You can find ENO’s local backcountry in the mountains of Western North Carolina and these are the animals that we run into the most.
Preventative Measures: Make noise as you are hiking; sing, talk, clap–if there is a bear nearby on the trail let them know you are coming rather than sneaking up on them. When camping, hang your bear bag properly, 15 feet off the ground and at least 100 yards away from your sleeping area. You can also experiment with the idea of getting bear spray. If you run into some cute baby bear cubs, hightail it in the other direction as to avoid even seeing the mama bear.
Run in: If you happen to just bump into one on the trail, listen to your instincts within reason. In this scenario when we just cross paths with one try bowing your head and slowly backing away diagonally. Bears try to avoid people. This may be just enough to bypass having a fight with a bear. If a bear comes into your campsite looking for food, unfortunately this is a more predatory type of semantics. Group together, bang on pots and pans and be as loud and big as you can. When you get to civilization next, call your local forest ranger and report the incident so they can continue to monitor the area.
Preventative Measures: Even though most snakes are not venomous and just look kind of creepy–no one wants to get bit by these slithery guys. Wear proper hiking shoes and thick long socks; even it it’s summer! That’s when the snakes are out anyways. Try to avoid stepping in or around brushy areas, snakes love that sort of thing. Essentially make sure your feet are properly covered and watch your step.
Run in: If you see a snake stop, change directions and slowly back away. If the snake starts coming towards you, stomp your feet on the ground hard. The theory is here that the vibrations will scare and drive them away. Do not try to touch or pick up the snake. If you are with the type of hiker that gets a rise out of this sort of thing, do not let them pick up the snake. Almost all snake bites occur when people attempt to do this. If you get bit by a snake there are many theories as what one is supposed to do. Try not to move a lot, get your friends to carry you off the trail, drink lots of water, and get to a hospital.
Preventative Measures: Wear lighter clothes as you go hiking. For whatever reason, bees are more attracted to those wearing darker clothing. Similar principle as the snakes, watch your step! Often bees dwell in ground nests, especially by creeks and rivers. Hint: there are lots of blossoming flowers by creek and rivers.
Run in: If you are unfortunate enough to step on a nest or encounter a swarm, run as fast as you can without swatting them. If you swat and act predatory they will only be more determined to hurt you. If you find a shady shelter, duck in there. The sudden darkness will confuse them. You can also jump into a creek or stream if you must. If you do get stung, remove the stinger by flicking it sideways with your fingernail. Stay calm and treat yourself to something nice later, you got stung by a bee(s) you deserve it.