When we were kids and my father spent weekends dragging us up mountains in Scotland. He would also spend some considerable effort teaching us the art of ‘survival’. This meant learning to build and light fires, carrying as little as possible, using knives, eating reconstituted food (yuck!), eating cold beans from a can (yum!) and generally making do in the open air without the mod cons.
The pinnacle of our education was an overnight sleep in a ‘survival bag’. All of us. In one bag…
It is good practice to carry some sort of survival bag when hiking through rough terrain. Designed to reduce the loss of body heat in an emergency, these bags serve as a personal emergency shelter (note the word personal here).
There are various types – some better than others – however, the one my father had managed to get hold of was a typical strong, lightweight bag made from a tough plastic material. It was bright orange, to enable rescuers and helicopter pilots to spot you from afar.
My father decided that a night in a survival bag was a must for his brood of three. I thoroughly suspect he was also just a little sick of having to carry a pretty heavy family-sized tent.
A soggy night
So one night, on top of a windswept highland mountain, in the pouring rain, all four of us (dad plus three kids ages 5-8ish) crawled into a large orange plastic bag to sleep.
Fortunately, Dad instructed us to lie facing downhill with the bag opening close to our heads to avoid the endless rain from pouring in. Unfortunately, this personal emergency solution was not built for comfort but for ‘survival’. My father, elder sister and I awoke the next morning soaked from head to foot in condensation. The bag was wetter inside than the rain-drenched surrounds.
My younger brother on the other hand was completely missing!
A cherub by the stream
Following our early morning arousal, lots of girly squealing in disgust at our own discomfort, and a quick mental count to discover the youngest of our party missing, we began following a vague slug-trail squashed into the heather. It led us down the hill.
Halfway down we found a bright red sleeping bag.
At the bottom of the valley we found a five-year old. Curled up in the heather next to a mountain stream… fast asleep!