5 Outdoor Myths

Toads give you warts. Lightening never strikes twice.  Avalanches strike without warning. Happy April Fool’s Day everyone!

Ask a fire tower lookout if lightening ever strikes twice! (Photo: M.Kopp)

We’ve all heard them before, but sometimes it’s a little difficult to separate fact from fiction. I thought I’d start the month debunking a few enduring – not necessarily endearing – outdoor myths.

Myth One: Toads give you warts.
Fact: Of course they don’t. Toads have a natural bumpy-looking skin that has nothing to do with warts. However, toads do secrete toxins on their skin intended to irritate the mouths of would-be predators. Should you feel the need to pick up a toad, wash your hands immediately after setting it back down.

Myth Two: Lightening never strikes twice.
Fact: Says who? Lightening often strikes the same place – especially if it’s a tall structure out on its own. Just ask any fire tower lookout why they need to install lightening rods!

Myth Three: Avalanches strike without warning.
Fact: It may seem like there is no warning, but avalanche potential is often hidden in new snowfall or wind-deposited snow piling up on top of weaker, buried layers. Conditions can change from slope to slope, aspect to aspect, day to day. While not always immediately visible to the eye, avalanche awareness and training  can help red flag the hazard.

Myth Four: All black bears are black in color.
Fact: False. Black bears can be black, brown, cinnamon, blonde, even white in color. 

Myth Five: If a bear attacks, play dead.
Fact: This one is true and false – depending on the species of bear.

If you have neglected to follow protocol for traveling in bear country (make lots of noise, watch for signs, carry pepper spray …) and come across a bear not so happy to see you, you need to immediately ask: grizzly or black bear?

Undoubtedly neither will answer, but if you see a distinct muscle hump on the shoulders, a dish-shaped profile and long claws that extend well beyond the pad – not only are you too close, but you’re also looking at a grizzly bear.

If you slowly back away, avoiding eye contact and getting ready to drop your backpack as a distraction, then you’ll probably just have an interesting story to tell your buddies.

If you scream and turn tail to run and the grizzly follows in serious pursuit (not a bluff charge), then you need to hunker down and play dead.

However, if you are staring at a black bear (Roman nose profile, claws close to the pads, no obvious shoulder hump) that is making a move on you, fight back. Black bears are known to be more predatory, rather than defensive of territory or food like most grizzly bears.

What’s the wackiest outdoor myth you’ve ever heard?

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