Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Indispensable Flashlight

Never go walking in the South Texas Brushlands without carrying a flashlight.  Never!  This advice comes to you via a fellow who a long time ago was a reckless kid who was fortunate in being a good runner but had a nasty habit of never returning to camp before sunset.  As such I ran back on many occasions figuring that if I was traveling fast enough a big rattler crossing the trail wouldn’t have time to implant its fangs into me.  At least that was the theory.  But besides needing a flashlight to illuminate the path you also need a light in case something happens and you are forced to make a quick camp.  A lot of people recommend a headlamp and that is good advice.  I usually use a small AA handheld light because it seems to work okay for me.  Maybe someday I’ll use a headlamp.  But that’s not the point.  The main thing is to carry some sort of light.  Besides rattlesnakes you’ve got to contend with prickly pear cactus and dozens of thorn-bearing woody shrubs and trees.  When I’m tracking someone I always know if they were walking in the day or night by whether or not they avoid cactus and thorny shrubs or amble into them.  Once I found a fellow who was so covered with cactus spines he looked like a human pin cushion.

At night you also must deal with scorpions, pamorana ants and centipedes and you don’t want to sit anywhere or pick up anything without inspecting it first.  You’ll need a light.  There are also vicious shrubs like mala mujer and stinging cevalia that will leave burning welts on your skin that will last for days sometimes weeks.  The bottom line is that carrying a flashlight is prudent and has the potential to save your life.  Make sure your flashlight is dependable and always carry an extra set of batteries on you or in your pack.  You don’t want to be out in the deep woods and find out your batteries are caput.  I prefer LED type flashlights because they are brighter.  So carry a light and save yourself the agony of having to run back to camp.