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  • Shawn Ammons

Wet & Cold - Don't Panic



A few months back I was hiking with Kreed, 12, in the Flint Hills of Kansas at Camp Cutteru. It was 27 degrees outside with a little wind. Camp is on Kansas Forest land and Kreed wanted to show me a special place he had discovered. After hiking half a mile Kreed performed a monkey maneuver up a tree and across the river to a high bank on the other side. He instructed me to cross on logs he had placed in the river. I grabbed a walking stick and started stepping carefully from one log to the other. Everything was going great until… You guessed it! My walking stick broke and I lost balance. Splash… cold splash! freezing cold splash! By God’s grace I only got wet up to my calves. 


People respond in a variety of ways in times like this. Some say, no big deal I will just be tough and ignore the facts. Others panic and make things worse than they really are ignoring the facts. How did I respond? I checked the temperature, 27 F, and the water exposure to my body and clothes. Kreed accomplished our mission and hiked back to a fire pit by the truck. We had a Kelly Kettle to make a hot drinks.


I started a fire in the fire pit and a fire in the base of the Kelly Kettle. It was not long and we had hot drinks and a hot fire. I was wearing KEEN Targhee II Mid hiking shoes. I learned about these shoes at outdoorgearlab.com. These hiking boots have been the best I have ever had and they don’t require a break in. They are ready to wear out of the box. 

For socks I was wearing SmartWool. SmartWool helped me stay healthy even with wet feet. I have been in some crazy weather situations all over the world and SmartWool has been a blessing over the years. 


Before my stick broke, I remember thinking about safety and the importance of staying dry. It is an awkward feeling to be thinking about safety and making a concerted effort to be safe while simultaneously hearing the crack of the walking stick.


I have been through basic hypothermia training which has given me a point of reference for experiences like this. 


If you plan to spend time outdoors, consider preparing yourself ahead of time for potential scenarios you might find yourself in so you can respond with calmness and confidence. When we prepare ourselves and simulate potential experiences in a safe environment we do ourselves and the group we are leading a big favor.


What spiritual lesson can we learn from this experience? 

1. In this world things don’t alway go as we plan.

    “We make our plans but God directs our steps.”  — Proverbs 16:9  

2. As we live in this world we need to be prepared, watchful, and thankful.  

    “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” — Col. 4:2

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