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Thread: Dry-Run: Lessons Learned

  1. #1
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    Dry-Run: Lessons Learned

    Long story short, my wife and I were invited by some good friends up to their remote family cabin for the weekend. Up a mountain pass that's only open in the summer and about 5 hours' driving time, this is one of our warm-weather "bug out" locations, so this presented a good dry run for us. The weekend involved a total of 10 people (6 adults and 4 kids age six and under), 3 vehicles, and about 3 days to shop and pack in preparation. Because of work and school schedules, my wife and I found ourselves packing rapidly the night before and the morning of departure, which added time pressure to the scenario. Of note, the cabin already has a well, a propane tank, a generator, beds, and some basic supplies, so many of our basic needs are already covered as you might want in an ideal "Bug-Out" location.

    Here are some lessons learned from the weekend. Bottom-line up front, don't forget the basics. None of the mistakes we made were cosmic, they were just careless. In a really bad bug-out scenario, a couple of bad fundamentals could have been far more costly. Enjoy learning from my mistakes:

    The good:
    -Food. We had plenty, and brought back more than we used.
    -Route, location, and gas. We already had a plan from previous trips up there. No maps or GPS needed.
    -Pre-staged gear. The cabin already had a lot of what we needed on-site. My wife and I had many of the essentials for our family already in a bug-out bag, which took care of a lot of incidentals that could have been an issue.
    -Group mentality. Having a small group of people makes a huge difference over being alone, especially when things start going wrong.
    -Fitness. See comms, part 2.

    The bad:
    -Comms. With no cell coverage at the cabin, we initially planned to rely on some handheld FMS radios for comms during the drive in, and while staying there. One radio died immediately, and no means to charge was available. Poor planning on my part. Have a way to charge radios and at least one backup communication method. This could have saved a lot of exertion when...
    -Comms, Part 2. Make sure all pertinent information is passed to all players before you go. You never know when you'll be split up or need to ingress/egress solo. The cabin's single access road has a gate located 6 miles down the road. I wasn't given the combo and assumed I wouldn't need it, since we were rolling with our friends who had it. Wrong answer. On day 2, we got split up while out for some day hikes, and I ended up in my truck, stuck outside the gate, with my wife and 2 small kids. I had to double-time it 6 miles on foot to get the combo for the lock so I could drive my family back in before dark. Bad on everyone, since my buddy didn't wait for us at the gate (he swore he gave me the combo, but I didn't have it). I was ticked off, but we all laughed about it around the campfire that night.
    -Conservation. Trying to convince my buddy's mother-in-law that it wasn't worth turning on the genny for a single lightbulb was an exercise in patience. We probably used twice as much propane as we should have (it's expensive and only gets filled once a year up there). Don't be afraid to be a Scrooge with resources that may be hard (or impossible) to come by. Especially if there is no harm in not using them.

    The ugly:
    -Disease. Somebody's freaking kid is always sick, and in close quarters it just rips through people. Somehow between 10 of us from 2 locations, nobody brought enough medicine. We had Advil, some hand sanitizer, and a few diaper wipes and that was about it. We started with 1 sick kid, and now at least 3 of the kids and one adult are sick. Reminds me of the old "You Have Died of Dysentery". Remember that one? Pack medicine for cold, flu, and yes, freaking dysentery. It sucks. Medicine, medicine, medicine!
    Last edited by sevenhelmet; 05-31-16 at 17:52.
    "We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." -Benjamin Franklin

  2. #2
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    You are lucky to be alive...... if they could weaponize daycare disease we would a be dead......

    Good write-up. Looking forward to the second part. Como is usually the failure point in all plans. It is hard to plan for everything.
    In no way do I make any money from anyone related to the firarms industry.


    "I have never heard anyone say after a firefight that I wish that I had not taken so much ammo.", ME

    "Texas can make it without the United States, but the United States can't make it without Texas !", General Sam Houston

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sevenhelmet View Post
    Long story short, my wife and I were invited by some good friends up to their remote family cabin for the weekend. Up a mountain pass that's only open in the summer and about 5 hours' driving time, this is one of our warm-weather "bug out" locations, so this presented a good dry run for us. The weekend involved a total of 10 people (6 adults and 4 kids age six and under), 3 vehicles, and about 3 days to shop and pack in preparation. Because of work and school schedules, my wife and I found ourselves packing rapidly the night before and the morning of departure, which added time pressure to the scenario. Of note, the cabin already has a well, a propane tank, a generator, beds, and some basic supplies, so many of our basic needs are already covered as you might want in an ideal "Bug-Out" location.

    Here are some lessons learned from the weekend. Bottom-line up front, don't forget the basics. None of the mistakes we made were cosmic, they were just careless. In a really bad bug-out scenario, a couple of bad fundamentals could have been far more costly. Enjoy learning from my mistakes:

    The good:
    -Food. We had plenty, and brought back more than we used.
    -Route, location, and gas. We already had a plan from previous trips up there. No maps or GPS needed.
    -Pre-staged gear. The cabin already had a lot of what we needed on-site. My wife and I had many of the essentials for our family already in a bug-out bag, which took care of a lot of incidentals that could have been an issue.
    -Group mentality. Having a small group of people makes a huge difference over being alone, especially when things start going wrong.
    -Fitness. See comms, part 2.

    The bad:
    -Comms. With no cell coverage at the cabin, we initially planned to rely on some handheld FMS radios for comms during the drive in, and while staying there. One radio died immediately, and no means to charge was available. Poor planning on my part. Have a way to charge radios and at least one backup communication method. This could have saved a lot of exertion when...
    -Comms, Part 2. Make sure all pertinent information is passed to all players before you go. You never know when you'll be split up or need to ingress/egress solo. The cabin's single access road has a gate located 6 miles down the road. I wasn't given the combo and assumed I wouldn't need it, since we were rolling with our friends who had it. Wrong answer. On day 2, we got split up while out for some day hikes, and I ended up in my truck, stuck outside the gate, with my wife and 2 small kids. I had to double-time it 6 miles on foot to get the combo for the lock so I could drive my family back in before dark. Bad on everyone, since my buddy didn't wait for us at the gate (he swore he gave me the combo, but I didn't have it). I was ticked off, but we all laughed about it around the campfire that night.
    -Conservation. Trying to convince my buddy's mother-in-law that it wasn't worth turning on the genny for a single lightbulb was an exercise in patience. We probably used twice as much propane as we should have (it's expensive and only gets filled once a year up there). Don't be afraid to be a Scrooge with resources that may be hard (or impossible) to come by. Especially if there is no harm in not using them.

    The ugly:
    -Disease. Somebody's freaking kid is always sick, and in close quarters it just rips through people. Somehow between 10 of us from 2 locations, nobody brought enough medicine. We had Advil, some hand sanitizer, and a few diaper wipes and that was about it. We started with 1 sick kid, and now at least 3 of the kids and one adult are sick. Reminds me of the old "You Have Died of Dysentery". Remember that one? Pack medicine for cold, flu, and yes, freaking dysentery. It sucks. Medicine, medicine, medicine!
    Oh the joys of the Oregon Trail.

    Great post here and really enjoyed reading though your report of your dry run.

    One thing I always do is keep a 40 dollar jump pack in my car, considering the amount of juice it holds, and a fancy shmancy USB port is located on it, I use that to do some charging when my phone, flashlights, or misc gear needs a refuel.

    Beyond that, I keep a little usb hand crank. I have timed it. It would take over an hour to get enough power to make a few phone calls. Considering the usefulness of comms, it's worth lugging around an extra ounce or two for it in the bag if ever needed.

    Nonetheless, it's making me re-evaluate the strategy I have in place now. I would love to have a formal cabin/woodsy shack building. Our Bug Out Summer location is a pre-setup campground in the most remote/secluded area I know. We set it up at the beginning of March/April and take it down as late as November around hunting seasons. Stash enough meds/ammo/non-perishables/clothing-blankets/canvas tent, river is within 50 or so yards, but avoided setting up to close to the river. The most entertaining part was finding a decent spot to bury a bunch.

    Granted, I am setting up for 2 people. No one else in the family agrees or commits to prepping in much of any way. I hope we never have to leave them, I know I don't want to, but I can't force them to follow along, and I certainly can't have people not willing to take it seriously putting myself and significant other at risk because they don't have any idea of what to do or how to handle themselves. Family or not. If their biggest concern is "Is there fridge for my beer?" before we even set a time and place to go check it out, I just gave up 2-3 years ago. At least I tried for the first 2-3 years.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeruMew View Post
    Oh the joys of the Oregon Trail.

    Great post here and really enjoyed reading though your report of your dry run.

    One thing I always do is keep a 40 dollar jump pack in my car, considering the amount of juice it holds, and a fancy shmancy USB port is located on it, I use that to do some charging when my phone, flashlights, or misc gear needs a refuel.

    Beyond that, I keep a little usb hand crank. I have timed it. It would take over an hour to get enough power to make a few phone calls. Considering the usefulness of comms, it's worth lugging around an extra ounce or two for it in the bag if ever needed.

    Nonetheless, it's making me re-evaluate the strategy I have in place now. I would love to have a formal cabin/woodsy shack building. Our Bug Out Summer location is a pre-setup campground in the most remote/secluded area I know. We set it up at the beginning of March/April and take it down as late as November around hunting seasons. Stash enough meds/ammo/non-perishables/clothing-blankets/canvas tent, river is within 50 or so yards, but avoided setting up to close to the river. The most entertaining part was finding a decent spot to bury a bunch.

    Granted, I am setting up for 2 people. No one else in the family agrees or commits to prepping in much of any way. I hope we never have to leave them, I know I don't want to, but I can't force them to follow along, and I certainly can't have people not willing to take it seriously putting myself and significant other at risk because they don't have any idea of what to do or how to handle themselves. Family or not. If their biggest concern is "Is there fridge for my beer?" before we even set a time and place to go check it out, I just gave up 2-3 years ago. At least I tried for the first 2-3 years.
    This is an excellent thread with several thinking points to consider by the OP & HeruMew.
    Ive am weak in two areas of prep- medical & comm. As a single income person..mine...I do all I can, and yes there is always something else "mandatory", that funds don't allow.
    On the subject of comms- I need to get a basic handheld CB type radio..and am also looking at some of the handheld walky-talky type units at Cabelas. In the Comm forum here some call them junk. I don't have the knowledge, time or money to invest in a high dollar, complicated buch of stuff that I nor anyone I kno would be able to use in a shtf situation. I don't know of anything else easy-peasy.
    HeruMew-you brought up a touchy subject: What to do with those who don't/wont/aren't prepared for ANYTHING come even the slightest emergency, let alone a shtf event. From here on Ill call them SHEEP. As one who has for many many years told my family to be at least prepared on some level to defend themselves if something were to happen, Im tired of worrying about it. They will reap what they've sown. Ill ask them just how important all those fvcking ball games were, and tv shows were, and texts and all the other BULLSHIT was that this society has deemed important,are aftera shtf event. My family...even my close kin..doesn't even own guns or know how to shoot to any extent. Ive told them countless times Ill help them, all they need do is ask and lets set up a time. Bring ammo...nothing else. Not a one has ever nor will ever take me up on it. Ok then, so be it. I WILL NOT lend out weapons or ammo or anything else come that time, these are for myself and my group people that Ill be making my way to. I just cannot & WONT help those who will not help themselves. Itll be sad, and I love them and they are great people, but they haven't listened and so to heck with it, I don't bring it up anymore.
    Last edited by Straight Shooter; 06-08-16 at 01:46.
    " Be NOT ye afraid of them..
    Remember the Lord, for He is GREAT & TERRIBLE!
    FIGHT for your bretheren..for your sons & for your daughters,
    for your wives & for your households"!

  5. #5
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    Good post! Field hygiene and proper food/water prep can never be more overstated.

    Properly treating/boiling water before cooking, washing hands before eating...all goes a long ways towards preventing dysentery. I'm with you there-- I got some nasty stuff back in Nicaragua and it's crazy how no matter how big or strong you are, there's nothing much you can do when stuff is exiting you through many different holes...
    If plan A didnít work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.

  6. #6
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    Points well taken...thanks.

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