As I sat down to write this original post, I turned on the TV to the National Geographic Channel to a show entitled “Alone in the Wild”. I was immediately drawn in and it changed my whole train of thought.
Alone in the Wild is about Ed Wardle, an accomplished extreme photographer, who is dropped into the Canadian Yukon wilderness with the intent of living there for 3 months alone and on his own. He has his video camera equipment, his initial supplies, and a satellite phone for emergencies only, and is able to do outgoing tweets. He describes himself as an outdoorsman, not a survivalist. He has a gun, but has to conform to the hunting, trapping, and fishing laws of Canada throughout his adventure. In the end, he makes it 50 days (out of 90) before he calls for help because of his lack of food and consequential lack of energy just for everyday tasks.
There were a couple of things that really jumped out at me: Firstly, even though he was in an area that one would think harbored a ton of wildlife and plants, he still had a hard time getting enough to eat. The trapping and fishing were not as lucrative as you might imagine and his major “kills” were two porcupines. (He did come across a moose and ducks towards the end of his stay, but conforming to the hunting laws prevented him from shooting either one). Secondly, he missed human company. The longer he was out there, the more he longed for human contact. He kept saying over and over “I miss people”.
I am sure one component of most survival plans out there is to bug out to the woods at some point. So I wonder how many of us have underestimated what it would take to live in the wilderness on our own. Are we planning for the game to be plentiful (and not over hunted)? Do we truly have (and practiced) the skills necessary for acquiring game? Do we have the demeanor to be able to kill an animal that we are not used to eating, gut, and skin it? What if your initial kill attempt only wounds and you have to finish it off up close and personal while it is struggling for breath? What about fishing when lakes and ponds are not restocked on a regular basis. Or when you don’t have a boat?And what if you are alone and by yourself. How long could you really last without human contact? Would you attempt it even if it were dangerous?
His experience reminded me of the survival rules of 3: A person can last 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food, and 3 months without hope or human contact.
And what really struck a chord was one of the last things Ed says before leaving on the rescue plan; “The wild doesn’t care. You can be lonely, tired, and hungry, the wild doesn’t care. It is just there.”