CNN Correspondent Rick Sanchez burrows into a makeshift shelter in Colorado's Rocky Mountains.
I took a blow-dryer to my feet last night. It was one of those super-duper ones that painters use to dry their canvasses. No matter how close I put it to the underside of my feet, I didn't feel any heat, not a bit.
My feet were frozen from trekking through the Rocky Mountains. I was out there for an hour-and-a-half. I maybe walked a mile. James Kim walked between seven and ten miles during his ordeal in the Oregon wilderness.
I was wearing a jacket, boots not fit for the snow, gloves and a hat. No mountaineering gear of any kind. Just the kind of stuff someone might wear while driving. James Kim was wearing sneakers, a couple of shirts and a jacket, but he reportedly had no hat.
Last night in the wilderness, I found out firsthand just how dangerous extreme conditions can be. The temperature was in the teens; our elevation was 8,500 feet.
At the suggestion of survival experts, we tried different techniques to see what works in those conditions and what doesn't. We tried making a shelter of last resort by literally burrowing four feet into the snow (see picture above). We tried using a candle to keep our car heated.
One thing we learned is how important it is to be prepared, because as I found out, when one is 8,500 feet up in the Rocky Mountains and the temperature is dropping into the teens, it is too late to look for the kinds of items that could save your life.
Here are a few things that Ken Brinks, a ranger with the Colorado State Parks, suggests keeping in the car at all times:
- Fluorescent tape (even just one piece of orange tape can be spotted by a helicopter)
- Couple of candy bars (but not chocolate -- chocolate can dehydrate you and so can, say, salted nuts)
- Coffee can to hold the candle (and melted water)
- CD to use as a reflector in case you see a helicopter
But the most important thing you can do, Ken says, is to tell somebody where you are going and when you expect to get there. If nobody knows where you are going, nobody knows where to look for you. Just like a pilot would, you gotta file a flight plan.