Get Outside, Into The Real World, Take A Walk


You will see and notice LOTS more of what’s around you when you walk through your neighborhood (or anywhere) rather than simply driving though. This may sound like a fairly obvious observation, but how many actually take the time to discover what’s really out there?

If you walk in it, it’s like a completely different world. Here’s what I mean…

When you drive in your vehicle, you are surrounded by a barrier which isolates you from the environment as you’re driving through. You can see through the windows, but miss the true identity of the ‘place’ and most of the details as you drive.

Speed and the associated inability to ‘take it all in’ or see everything, the isolation in your ‘cocoon’ as you’re thinking of other things, listening to the radio, the inability to hear the environment outside, – they are all reasons contributing to the major differences in really knowing what’s out there.

Again, this probably reads as being quite obvious, or, “Why should I care?”

I try to walk a-lot these days so I already know this to be true, however I wanted to share (point out) the obvious because I know that not too many people walk much in today’s modern world (compared to times gone by).

The reason that I bring this up is because of the reminder I had just the other day. I recently brought in my truck for service and I knew that the process would take several hours. Instead of sitting in the waiting room the entire time, I went for a walk for about an hour.

I’ve driven the streets through that portion of town and have explored the neighborhoods there, but what a difference while walking! The ‘feel’ of the place is often quite different from what you might have experienced while driving through.

When you’re walking, you are entirely exposed. You are ‘in’ the environment. You are not protected by the walls of your vehicle. You are hearing all of the nuances around you, the sounds. Your speed is slow enough to actually see everything. You see the detail. Your mind is focused on what you’re doing (unless you start ‘daydreaming’). You notice the little things – which all add up to an experience that is entirely different from driving through.

I walked through the small ‘downtown’ and then ventured off into a few neighborhoods and down a few country lanes. The ‘flavor’ of the various places felt different from the times I’ve driven through. I noticed a shop or two which I hadn’t realized were there before. I got a feeling for the neighborhoods by seeing the details of the houses, the yards, the things kept around the homes, the signs and clues which revealed somewhat about who was living there. I stopped by a river while passing over an old bridge. I saw someone fly-fishing upstream. I stood there for a while and took it all in, listening to the river, the breeze through the trees (it was a nice day). I continued on and passed another ‘walker’ coming the opposite direction. Ironically we passed again as we each looped around a few streets – smiled and waved as though in our own world, separate from those in their cars…

I took in an amazing amount of information about that little area which I would have otherwise had no idea whatsoever.

Try it some time. Around your home neighborhood or during your lunch break at work. Take a walk. You’ve driven those roads a million times. When you walk, it will seem quite different. You will see and notice things that you had no idea about before. The place will ‘feel’ different (unless you’ve already done this before).

It seems to me that today’s modern world has most of you ‘inside’, or inside of something. Your house. Your car. Your work. The store. All the ‘places’. All except outdoors. Not too many people walk around much. This has led to a sort of fake environment in which most people live. It’s not fake in the sense that it’s not real, it is real (the inside spaces). The real world outside though is a place where many have lost touch.

From a preparedness standpoint, or from one of security, you should really ‘know’ your environment. Situational awareness. There is no way that you will ever really know it if you have never walked through it. Not only that, but you will find that the more often you do walk through it, the more you will discover.

Do you agree?

Do you believe that today’s generation(s) hardly walk compared to years gone by? Is that a detriment?

We as humans are generally most always ‘indoors’ or inside somewhere.
Is it time to get outside?

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Couldn’t agree more Ken! We have about 50+ miles of nearly contiguous bike trails by us that goes through several towns. Each year I try to ground/humble myself by getting familiar again with the local area in walking 20+ miles of it at least once. It’s coming up to that time of year again to put myself out there. Just never know what you’re going to learn out there, not to mention that it is good bug out conditioning!

For what it is worth, some of my favorite books on this topic include:

Planet Walker” by John Francis
A Walk Across America” by Peter Jenkins
Hiking Through” by Paul Stutzman

It is healthy…..and free!! My wife and I have carried pedometers for years, always trying to go beyond 10K steps per day – most times that is very easy. The weather is super for walking right now.

I believe this is probably the best advice I’ve seen on any prepper/survival blog. So many concentrate on guns, food, water, and the latest gadgets etc., all of which are important, but if you are not intimately familiar with your own backyard (neighborhood, surrounding area), you are going to be surprised how hard navigation will become when normal routes are taken away.

When I was a child in the 50’s, I would visit a cousin who lived in a big city in Texas. He would lead me on treks through the storm sewers of his neighborhood, sometimes coming to the surface several miles from his home. He knew exactly where we were at throughout the journeys. We made trips to different stores, miles from his home, completely underground the whole trip. How many are aware of these obvious subterranean highways in their own neighborhoods now, much less how to navigate them?

Now, in my mid-60’s, I live on 45 acres, my home on top of an Ozark mountaintop, surrounded by rugged, heavily wooded terrain. My son, laughingly tells folks that I know every tree, rock, game trail and hiding spot on our place. I tell him, the only surprises I get when walking around is when I see something out of place or disturbed. I see this as a good thing. You only achieve this intimacy with your surroundings on foot.

I fully agree I’m the same way in northern Michigan . Knowledge is power and no surprises

I fully agree I’m the same way in northern Michigan . Knowledge is power and no surprises

trapper dave – northern Michigan here too.

check out The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher. It was originally written in 1968, then updated 4 times (equipment changed a lot). I have the 1984 version (2nd update) and it’s very informative. I believe preppers can learn a lot from the hiking/backpacking community.

I’ve seen this many times browsing used book stores through the years. Never really gave it a nod for some reason. Gonna add this one into the book queue now, though.

Thank you for sharing!

Ya know Ken, I don’t know where you come up with these article topics, but please keep doing so…..

Thanks for another kick in the azz :-)


very good suggestion…

just read your post quickly, but I think I have another point on why it is a good idea.

I am not much of a walker, due to various concerns. And, mostly I am “ride along”.

well, I will tell you , if you, (not you specifically) happen to be mostly “ride along”, you totally will not have the same concept / understanding of directions/routes as the driver.

I can “ride along” with someone, and honestly if I had to drive myself back home, most times I would then have to figure it out.

As a ride along, I don’t pay a lot of attention to turns, this and that.

So, especially if you usually “ride along”, your post is important. One never knows, when one will have to find one’s way somewhere.

Very true. My wife and I like to play a sort of game with our kids where when coming home from somewhere, we let them play navigator. “So we’re going home now, you tell me which way to go, when do I turn?” It’s been surprising and fun to see how quickly a 5 year old can pick up on how to get home once they know that it’s up to them.

My brother’s house sits up on a hill here in rural Alabama where you can see for miles. The cabin I’m building is about 1/4 mile into the woods from his house as the crow flies. It’s about a 200 foot elevation drop in a valley surrounded by hills on 3 sides and a pond that runs about an acre. (At what point does a pond become a lake?) Anyway, due to it being downhill the switchback trail turns that 1/4 mile into over a half mile. It’s a good walk, especially on the way back up, and I always see some interesting stuff. One thing I’ve noticed though, when I’m carrying building supplies down there on the quad with the trailer it’s so noisy that I’m practically blind to everything that’s around me. Being so wooded you usually walk the trail seeing with your ears which is something you can’t do on the quad. When walking its easy to see the snakes and coyotes and all the other good stuff. Walking a half mile uphill sure beats the hell out of a stair master too!

Balanced content! Someone said that people pay attention to the things that give them a sense of identity, purpose, and adventure. I think that many would be walkers have been discouraged by the newer neighborhoods being built w/o sidewalks. Not everyone wants to drive to ” the path”. Connecting with the outdoors will help it to be less of a shock should you find yourself walking in the event of an emergency. There are many places around the world where people still walk. Ireland for example. And since our system is designed to benefit from walking, and all things being equal, you’ll probably find that they who walk whether by choice, or necessity, are on average a healthier people than those of us who think that we have to drive everywhere.

When I come home from work I am too exhausted. I work in the national forest, I drive 100 miles a day and get out and walk a lot to enjoy my work in the woods and along the shores, I meet people coming to camp and have conversations, often waving at new campers and fishermen coming in, I have to know what the fish are biting on and where on the lakes. I have cleaned wilderness fish disposal areas alone where bald eagles, vultures, bears and wolves visit often, and ravens announce my presence. I have to be aware of everything as I work and where I work.

Today I heard ruffed grouse drumming his wings and I can feel his wing vibrations in my throat as I cleared brush. I heard some animal breaking limbs in the forest around me when I found fresh wolf scat at my feet composed of crushed bone and deer hair in it. I watched 3 white pelicans soaring overhead, catching the updraft and in unison, performing an air ballet with graceful chorography. As I walked further, I found otter tracks leading to a lake where a mud slide was made by them. Then of course, I felt something crawling on my neck, and checked my clothes and found 6 ticks on me. Oh, nature, how thou art bountiful in thy creatures!

I agree with you Ken, you will find that the more often you do walk through your situational awareness, the more you will discover. It sure beats finger punching on twitter, X-box, or FB in what most kids would rather do these days.

I used to hike in the various wildlife preserves and parks but I had to give it up as I started experiencing hip problems that come with age. I used to feel so connected to nature during those hikes. Which is why I prefer an open window over air conditioning. Listening to the creatures of the night while I lay in bed kept me informed if danger was nearby. The night sounds change when a predator was nearby. You didn’t need to see it to know it was there. I always feel so alive when I can hear what goes on around our property.

In the same vein as walking your area, consider becoming more aware of the difference the night makes to your surroundings. Few people in today’s world spend much time outdoors after nightfall. Many prepper folks talk about perimeter defense in the event of civil breakdown. Have you actually spent a night outside your home, possibly in a “hide” you’ve identified or built. You might be surprised what you see and hear going on just outside your domicile during “normal” times, at night. You may discover your observation point/hide is not as hidden as you thought it would be and what is needed to make it more comfortable for a stay of over a couple of hours. You most certainly will discover the importance of protection from insects. You may even want to include family or like minded friends to do 4 hour shifts on a Friday or Saturday night just to have a feel for what may someday become a necessary part of life.

The ambient noise at night changes drastically as the neighborhood goes to sleep. You will hear activities at much greater distances, sometimes footsteps from over a block away, people talking in normal voices 2-3 blocks away, dogs barking many blocks away.

The neat thing is it doesn’t cost a penny, is something everyone should at least experience once before you are thrust into a no choice situation, and just might open your eyes to the “going’s-on” in your neighborhood you were unaware of.

I live way back off the beaten trail, but the same applies to country folk. As the old saying goes “the snakes crawl at night”. Learn to be prepared for them.

This is one of your best articles. This seems to be one of the most obvious things and I know for the most part that I have neglected it. You really are hitting two birds with one stone on this.

When you walk around your neighborhood, and do this seasonally, then you become aware of the flora and fauna which surivive and thrive in those periods. That awareness will later pay off as you note the species that grow in certain niches, the presence of their “runs” in case you need to trap them. You note which trees are maturing, which might be taken and harvested, identifying their species and then looking in a reference as to the best intended use (tool making, shingles, potential cart wheel spokes, etc). Do mushrooms grow here or there? What berries come along and when? Are there nut trees around that no one is harvesting? What wild edible grasses are there like red and white clover to make tea or flour-filler later? What common native species are around and which have been introduced? What medicinal plants like hibicus might be in someone’s yard? Where does common plantain and honeysuckle exist? When organizing your neighborhood later, what are might serve as the burial ground? What might be a sacred space for worship and ceremonies? Where will the new neighborhood school be? Where might be a good place for a central outdoor earthen oven for baking and preparing foods to conserve wood stores and to remove heat from indoors in the heat of summer? Where should the cisterns be? Where can you take advantage of swales? Where might latrines offer easy access and taking into account issues with water sanitation and wells and bio-sand filtration? What about future fodder meadows for livestock? What plants need to be introduced from nearby in order to reduce foot traffic later? Are there plants which produce tree crops for fodder, for medicinals, for maple syrup, for small wild edibles when it’s difficult to gather them? Where in your neighborhood is the least defensible? From what likely direction will predators come from either via roads or cross country? Where do the nearest predators live currently based upon public databases? How far away are they? What would be needed to protect the elderly, single mothers, medicinally fragile folks in parts of your neighborhood? Where should watchtowers be erected? Where can barriers be put up to slow them down? What windbreaks need to be planted? What areas need to be cleared? What areas could be put to better use if used communally? Do any bridges need to be built for crossing streams? Is there any erosion issues when flash flooding happens and will this be a future concern? Do you already have issues with feral dogs and cats, and how might you discourage them from moving in with even more post-collapse? Are coy dogs or coyotes already an issue? How far away have feral pigs been sited? What local stones can be gathered for construction projects? Do you already have sources of clay for pottery? For wattle-and-daub? Where should people dump rocks later so the supply will be centralized? How will your neighborhood manage an inevitable fire in the future? How will you… Read more »