Chapter 7. Think Ahead of the Curve: Notice Trends, Anticipate Threats, and Discover Hidden Opportunities

I take a flashlight with me on trips. I carry one in my car. We've got five flashlights around our house.

You're probably thinking, "What's the big deal? Why all the flashlights?"

I learned the value of a flashlight years ago, on a backpacking trip in the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming. The first day out, I stopped hiking toward evening, pitched my tent, and made supper. Then, with some daylight left, I decided to check out the neighborhood.

I meandered across a broad meadow full of scrub, scampered on a ways, and eyed a small oval-shaped lake. The setting sun broadcast the most amazing colors. I sat down on a log to take in the scene, and when I got up to go back to my tent, I noticed how dark it had gotten all of a sudden. As I started back to my tent, I worried about tripping over a rock or smacking into a tree. The next couple of hours I walked around with my hands out in front of me, trying to feel my way to my tent.

Giving up, I huddled underneath a pine tree with a Forest Service topographic map as my blanket. Since it was summer, I was in no danger of freezing to death. Still, it was a tad uncomfortable out there, especially when it started to rain.

When daylight appeared, I looked around. There was my tent—30 feet away!

Out of this experience, I learned two lessons.

First, being close to shelter does you zero good.

Second, things happen fast when you aren't paying attention. ...

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