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#169442 - 09/16/12 05:48 PM Survivalists?
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Hope this is the right thread for this post. I'm new here, found this site by searching using light + weight + backpacking. This really got my interest because I've always been a proponent for the advantages of packing as light as possible, while not sacrificing safety to save a few ounces.
Even in the military, I fought hard for shaving as much weight as possible, while still being able to accomplish the mission at hand, without sacrificing the ability to acomplish said mission. Usually just ended up with me banging my head against the wall, but I'm getting off my own topic.

First let me explain: When I say survivalist, I'm not talking about someone hunkered down in a bunker with 50K rounds of ammo and 10 years worth of food and water, waiting for the Mayan Calander to end the world.

I'm referring to those who have had at least minimal, up to expert levels of formal training, to survive the type of terrain that you'll be trekking through, no matter what kind of unexpected gremling jumps up and steals your gear and compass. (Yes compass, surely you use your GPS as a back-up, not a primary means of navigation, if you carry one, and know orientation techniques using a compass and at least some form of map).

I'm just curious, as I run into so many people who have no idea what to do "when all else fails" but consider themselves advanced or even experts. I've also had the unpleasant task of having to help locate and recover bodies, whose lives were literally wasted for lack of even rudimentary training.

Anyway, I'm just curious how others on this forum feel about this, and what training they may or may not have. I'm sure many of you who may be prior military or work in the rescue or ranger field or something related have had training. I often cringe when people I know tell me they are going to X location, with absolutely no idea of handle themselves in that environment.

Myself, I spent 20 years in the military, and am confident in just about any envioronment except mountaineering in extreme cold weather environments. I'm also not an experienced climber, mountain, ice or otherwise. The bulk of my training is desert (my prefered environment) woodland and jungle.
And even with some of the best training taxpayers can buy, I by no means consider myself infallible, by any measure. In fact, I'm still learning all of the time.

Not meaning to pontificate from a soapbox, so I'll leave it at that. Just curious about other's thoughts on this subject.

Thanks,
J.
P.S. (Edit) This months issue of Backpaking is dedicated to survival, when things go bad, then from bad to worse...


Edited by jbylake (09/16/12 08:40 PM)

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#169444 - 09/16/12 10:40 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I think most of us are aware of common hazards and avoid those. Or are we? Most are afraid of animals while many are unaware that the major cause of fatalities is falls.

Until you added the information about Backpacker Magazine, I wasn't sure why you were posting.

Here is a direct link to the Backpacker Magazine article: http://www.backpacker.com/survival/

I wonder if there is a book that has hazards that are gotcha's but easy to avoid. For instance a snow bridge over a deep stream.

It would make an interesting book.



Edited by Gershon (09/16/12 10:53 PM)
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#169445 - 09/17/12 12:15 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Gershon]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
I didn't mean to imply that people here weren't aware of the usual hazards. Sorry if my post came off that way. I'm talking about true survival when stuff goes really, really wrong, and then get worse. In SERE training in the military, in different environments, *the ere (the evade, resist, escape portion doesn't apply here) you can be put in situations where things start off really bad, and only get worse.

I have a friend from my military days that started a desert survival school for backpackers and others who want to do trips in areas, or need too by the nature of their business, like Arizona, Nevada, CA, etc. People get a very good course in how to survive nearly everything that can and will go wrong, and turn their love of hiking into a nightmare.

Basically, that's all I was trying to say, and ask to see how many people take survival courses or other formal training for areas that pose serious potential life threatning situations.
Mostly out of sheer curiosity.

Thanks for the reply,

J.

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#169447 - 09/17/12 01:04 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2039
Loc: Napa, CA
Hmmm. Well, I live in California, but never took a survival class to figure out how to live here.

I think most of us on this board think of backpacking as recreational. That means that we know what dangers there are, and we do a pretty good job of not meeting them. We're in the mountains because we want to have fun and enjoy the spectacular beauty.

The very best survival course is one that teaches you to avoid getting even close to a situation that is life-threatening...and I suspect we all work pretty hard to achieve that goal.
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#169449 - 09/17/12 02:31 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: balzaccom]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I think survival courses are a good idea for the most part. Some survival shows I have seen exaggerate the risk by eliminating items that any camper would have; if they don't, they probably don't have survival skills anyway.

For me, survival skill #1 is have what you need. Granted you could lose everything--falling and losing your pack for example, so carrying a few essentials separately on your body would be a start (knife, matches, small light or headlamp for example).
#2 would be know where you are--not just geography, but expected weather. You'd be surprised how often we read about people caught in storms and come to find out they never checked the forecast before heading out.
#3 would be letting someone know where you plan to go and when to expect you back. No one is going to come looking for you if they don't know you are missing.

I'm sure this list could be a lot longer, but that's the very basics I can think of at the moment.
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#169453 - 09/17/12 09:41 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Survival is specific to the environment - I'm sure my skills wouldn't get me far anywhere outside California, say, Africa....

Search and Rescue teams get survival training (not that we will ever need it if we follow instructions and stick with the team).

What those skills don't help is the fact that aside from living on fish and wild onions, you really can't forage and survive in the Sierra Nevada. Not enough to eat there. I suppose trapping pika or marmot would help but, simply being extra cautious in preventing injury, not going climbing or glacier/snowfield walking alone, and leaving a detailed itinerary behind should do the heavy lifting in the situation.
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#169454 - 09/17/12 10:06 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: TomD]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I went through SERE in 1971. It really didn't teach much more than I learned in the Boy Scouts, but it was a good program. I'd love to do it again today.

Survival schools seem to run about $200 a day in Colorado. For independent learners, I don't think it's a good use of the money. For others, it might be a great vacation.

One objection I have with military training is it tends to treat nature as an adversary to be conquered rather than as a friend to live in harmony with.

I think all the survival skills a person needs to know can be learned independently through books, magazine articles, forums and Youtube videos. But I prefer independent learning. Others prefer a live teacher.

In order to complete the learning process, I feel the book learning needs to be drawn down to physical actions. Many times this can be done safely in a person's backyard or by walking in bad weather around their neighborhood. For many, it's difficult to get out in the field enough with a willing person to practice skills there. Consider someone who lives in Kansas planning a trek in the mountains.

When a person learns how to cope with unusual situations, it's no longer a survival skill. It just is. Often what seems like a survival situation to others can be an enjoyable situation.

In the wilderness, most situations happen slowly. Often sitting quietly without thought will result in a solution appearing. In my opinion, the time to stop is at the first sign of things not going quite right. This especially applies to getting lost or the onset of unexpected bad weather.

Mental skills may be more important than physical skills. With other people, group dynamics can be a major factor, especially with people you don't know. Many times, the person with the strongest leadership abilities has very little knowledge. This is one reason I gave up riding motorcycles with others.



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#169469 - 09/17/12 05:04 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By lori
Survival is specific to the environment - I'm sure my skills wouldn't get me far anywhere outside California, say, Africa.....

Precisely..But as mentioned, survival classes should not be taught as nature is the adversary, as one person pointed out. Just the opposite. I went through numerous survival schools while in the military, and our unit, stationed outside of Riverside CA were primarily desert warfare specilists. Yes you can survive in the S.N.'s, in Death Vally, just about any where you need, if you know how...and you practice those skills.

It was also mentioned here that avoidance was the best method of "survival". Negative. If that were true we wouldn't have to worry about any situation, we'd just avoid it. The time to figure out you don't know what to do, is not when something bad happens. It doesn't have to be day's in the making like a major storm. It can go from a carefree day to a nightmare in an instant.

I'm not implying that people walk around paranoid, thinking constantly that something's going to go wrong any minute. If I were to think like that, I think I'd just give it up and take up bowling or something.

I guess what I was really referring to, is someone with no skills in above the tree line in the Rockies, having spent their whole lives, say..in Hawaii, buying gear and heading off for a winter expedition at 14,000 feet...granted that's kind of a far fetched example, but stuff like that happens more often than you think.

And Marmot might be quite tasty....:-)

Two things will get you in trouble more than anything. Arrogance, and waiting until things happen to find out you really don't know as much as you could, or should, to be where you're at..

J.

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#169481 - 09/17/12 06:56 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1814
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Regardless of one's training, you cannot be prepared to survive any environment. I went through survival school when I was in the Army; in those long-ago days it was called EES or escape, evasion and survival (I think). I thought then, and think now that the training I received was more aimed at building individual confidence than anything else. Too many in the military, especially those from cities, just gave up when confronted with an EES situation. This was especially so during the Korean conflict; EES training was aimed at rectifying the situation by teaching soldiers, Marines and airmen that even if you were alone and unequipped, if you kept your wits about you could, not would, survive and escape capture. Sadly, this training gave a lot of military people the notion that they could survive anywhere, anytime, and in any conditions; in many cases, this false confidence has carried over into civilian life.

Survival depends on training but also on circumstances. If one were to wind up in Antarctica, lightly clothed and without food, fuel and shelter you would die regardless of how well one was trained. The same applies with the desert. Survival in a temperate forest with full kit is another matter entirely.

I live in the desert and am intimately familiar with it, it's denizens, finding water and problems of travel. Again, if someone were to find themselves 80 miles from water in mid-summer, on foot, without gear and without water, survival would be problematic, at best, regardless of training. I also spent six months in Antarctic and have a keen appreciation for one's dependence on gear, fuel and food for survival there.

There are a lot of environments where the best survival strategy is to just get out of there as quickly and elegantly as possible. Eating a marmot or Pika (Perish the thought!) is a pale substitute for an expeditious walk to the nearest hamburger restaurant and, in fact, food is probably one of the less important requirements unless it is a marathon survival situation.
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#169487 - 09/17/12 09:04 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Pika]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Pika, I don't think anyone can be prepared to survive in any environment at anytime. Your correct, and that would be a foolish if not insane perspective. When I started this thread, it was out of curiosity. Let me clarify. If you have no experience or survival skills in a desert environment, then I would not recommend you voluntarily step into Death Valley for a 10 day trek. (the roughest training and place I've ever been, but it's entirely dooable). Or the Sahara (second roughest). That's all, just simply that. I was not implying that if you were in an aircraft that crashed while flying over the artic, wearing a tank top, shorts and a pair of flipflops, that having extreme cold weather survival skills would help you much. I think I've tried to make that point several times in this thread. I don't think you should look at the enviornment your in as an adversary either. A challenge, yes, if that's what your going for and if it in fact is, but not and adversary.

I remember one of my survival instuctors saying something to us like this (or very close, it's been quite a while).
He said "The earth is like your mother, your father and your God. Like your mother it can feed and nurture you. Like a stern father, it can scold and admonish you, and like a God, it can give you life, or take it.

Having said that, if you read my original post, I was just asking who had formal training.

One person mentioned that self-learners can use the resources available today to teach themselves. Sure. I doubt if our early ancestors had any formal training, they learned as the went and they passed on what worked and what didn't, to their young.

I certainly didn't want to rankle any feathers, or create some sort of disconnect between those who feel in harmony with the universe and all that.

I just love the outdoors, and honestly, due to age and injuries, I don't really do the arduous challenges, I'm talking flat out ragged out, shredded, cut, bruised, letting out a big "whew, that was fun" and smiling like a possum at the end of the day, trips.

I would like to try some extreme cold weather trip of some sort, as part of my "bucket" list. But I don't know if that'll happen, and I wouldn't try it without some formal training of some type, and without a group of very experienced or expert people that do that sort of thing.

Happy trekking,
Jim.

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#169495 - 09/17/12 09:45 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Frankly, after quite a few decades in the outdoors, I consider the natural world neutral; it isn't my mommy or daddy, or anything else. It just is. Success requires flexibility and adaptation to circumstances as they arise - in this line, I was quite taken by the account of the hikers stranded by rising water in a canyon. I have been in that situation more than once and on every occasion our preconceived time table went out the window, a hard thing for many of us who are slaves to a schedule. Relaxing and waiting for the waters to recede also had unexpected dividends in every case. BTW, I have recovered about as many drowning victims as fall victims and nearly all of my SAR experience has centered on southern Arizona (Pika country). Common to nearly all of the victims was the need to get somewhere right away - like the dude who just had to get home to watch the 1978 Super Bowl, and to that end, charged right into the raging Rillito and a quick death. I, too, wanted to watch that game (Dallas vs. Denver and I was a Cowboy fan) but I gave it up to thrash around for a couple of hours in a fruitless attempt to find him.

I suppose survival schools and classes are generally a good thing, although I acquired my training before such things were very common, so survival schools are certainly not the only way. I learned a great deal by simply reading the literature, especially the American Alpine Club annual publications, "Accidents in American Mountaineering," and if I can do that, anyone can.

In my experience, the common denominator for outdoor victims is inexperience and lack of knowledge. This was certainly true for me - my very first excursion in southern Arizona was also my closest brush with serious injury or death.

Right after college, I was drafted into the Army. I learned nothing there that was useful to me in my later career in the outdoors. If you served later than I did (1960-1961) you probably knew a much more competent military than I experienced.

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#169498 - 09/17/12 09:55 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Just one more comment - living off the land. I doubt I would be much good at it, other than in very unusual circumstances. I doubt that a Pika has much food value - they are too tough and stringy, besides being tough to catch....

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#169500 - 09/17/12 10:56 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: oldranger]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
ha..ha...can't be worse than a pack rat.... sick
J.

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#169504 - 09/18/12 12:14 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
mimstrel Offline
member

Registered: 08/25/12
Posts: 37
I'll second what someone said earlier about survival skills being highly context dependent. Around home... well, I'm from the state with the least remaining native habitat. It's a very different place from wilderness areas where you can hike for days and not see another soul. Which isn't to say you can't get in trouble in Iowa... but help usually isn't too far off.

Much of my knowledge, experience, and training in "worst case scenario" survival situations has been either in the winter (in the northwoods), or in southeast Alaska (would NOT want to have to try to survive an Alaskan winter... but the summer, no problem... and I'd rather get dumped in a southeast Alaskan winter than either of the two situations below). But of course, I'd be relying on fairly basic training and experience, with a side order of logic and creativity, and I'm aware that it would only take me so far.

On the other hand, drop me in the desert and I'd most likely shrivel up and die. I have a few vague ideas about finding water, and what to watch for as far as dangerous animals and terrain... but in reality, I wouldn't be prepared to deal with the situation at all. Fortunately, life rarely takes me to deserts!

Tropical rainforests, now... there again, I'd be completely screwed if I somehow found myself off-trail without my pack. But honestly, a good part of the reason I'd die if I were lost in the tropical rainforest is mental. One of the most important things to do in an emergency is stay calm and think things through... and I don't stay calm well in the jungle. It's the heat, the humidity, and the ants.

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#169505 - 09/18/12 12:50 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By jbylake

It was also mentioned here that avoidance was the best method of "survival". Negative. If that were true we wouldn't have to worry about any situation, we'd just avoid it. The time to figure out you don't know what to do, is not when something bad happens. It doesn't have to be day's in the making like a major storm. It can go from a carefree day to a nightmare in an instant.



This is a backpacking forum.

If we are to talk about survival in the context of the purpose of the forum, PLANNING and AVOIDING is the very essence of survival. Know the risks where you go, plan and research, survive and enjoy your trip - that's the survival skills the leisure backpacker needs to know.

Having the skill to get dry, warm, etc. after the unexpected happens is the second half of the equation and hopefully one that you don't need to use.

Not everyone has to think like a bushcrafter and to backpack.
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http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#169506 - 09/18/12 01:44 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6742
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
"Bushcraft" is pretty much illegal in designated wilderness areas, where the somewhat misnamed "Leave No Trace" principles reign supreme and are basically the law. No cutting green wood or standing dead wood, no fires at or above timberline, no fires at the more popular lakes.... Right now in the Pacific NW, fires are banned altogether because of the extreme fire danger (and a lot of fires burning right now). Outside wilderness areas things aren't so strict, but the US Forest Service frowns on cutting green wood anywhere. I'm sure there are other areas where bushcraft can be practiced, but it's well to be aware of the local regulations before doing so. Bushcraft can be fun, but if a lot of people do it in one area, it can be destructive of the environment.

Preparedness is far more important. Part of preparedness is having the right emergency gear, such as the "Ten" Essentials. With those, you may not be comfortable, but at least you'll stay warm and dry during an unexpected overnight or two in stormy weather. Another part of preparedness is planning ahead (also, BTW, part of Leave No Trace). This includes such items as studying maps of your route before the trip to identify water sources and camp sites, planning for contingencies, identifying bail-out routes if the trip has to be cut short, leaving an itinerary with a trusted person at home. Another part is learning outdoor skills in advance of the trip, such as maintaining your body temperature ("thermoregulation"), learning to cope with inclement weather, etc. These skills are best practiced close to home, in your (or a borrowed) back yard or at a car campground where your warm bedroom or your car and its heater are available if you mess up.

One thing not always mentioned is that you can go a couple of weeks without food, but going without water can incapacitate you in less than a day and kill you in a couple of days (or less). Unfortunately, we're all told "don't drink backcountry water unless you purify it." In an emergency situation, if the water is polluted (not all sources are), it will take a week to 10 days to get sick from it, by which time you'll be home and close to medical care. So go ahead and drink as much water as necessary to keep well hydrated. That's far more important than worrying about natural food sources--something I wouldn't have to worry about for several weeks in any case, since I have a perennial overweight problem! laugh


Edited by OregonMouse (09/18/12 01:47 AM)
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#169516 - 09/18/12 10:42 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: OregonMouse]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I think it is interesting that a "desert rat" is living in Kentucky.

This is an interesting subject, despite the abundance of reality shows with that word in the title. Hard core skills are a good thing to have, but really, the kind of things Lori and OregonMouse are talking about are the necessary first step to proficiency in "survival" anyway. Some people take this survival thing too far and head off in an anti-social direction.

The desert is something that a few of us here are used to. That thermoregulation thing can be critical in this environment, especially in spring and fall where I am cause it can be scorching during the day and then freeze at night. Actual experience in a region is important. Resources that you have read about or been taught to rely on my not be available during the time you visit. For instance, getting water from a cactus requires that there has been rainfall in the area not too long in the past. These plants shrink and expand with the availability of water and can expand quite rapidly when water is available for the plant to take up. That's probably why many are ribbed in structure. And you are never going to get any moisture out of a prickly pear pad if the thing looks anorexic (all shrunken up) even though it is green.

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#169524 - 09/18/12 01:00 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: oldranger]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1814
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Quote:
I doubt that a Pika has much food value - they are too tough and stringy, besides being tough to catch....

They taste lousy and smell bad too!!
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#169528 - 09/18/12 02:05 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Pika]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Lori,
Oregonmouse,
SKCedric,
Please re-read the thread.
Lori, I know this is a backpacking thread, Oregonmouse, I'm not talking Bushcraft, I'm talking about skills preparedness. I don't doubt that you'd get in real trouble if you had a compound fracture on a little known or traveled trail.
I'm also not saying that you need the skills of a Navy S.E.A.L, to survive a day trip in the woods with your kids, dog etc.
And fineally, there are no "pack rats" in Kentucky, you are correct, but wrong in your assumtion.
I've trained (especially in the military) in some of the most difficult deserts around the world. I spent many years in CA, more than 12, actually. We trained in the Mojave, Death Valley, South down in the Sonora, and further east, the massive desert property surrounding Nellis AFB in NV. Throw white sands New Mexico in there. Also the Sahara in Northern Africa, and other places too long to list here. I was a desert warfare specialist in the military. We trained for planning and avoidance, and guess what? We often encountered something we didn't expect. That's what it (training) is all about. I don't mean this as a jab, but if you are confident in your skills, and you feel "avoidance" and planning will help you if you're snake bit in the mojave, while on a solo trip, and 15 miles away to the nearest help, the I personally don't care if your planning requires only a bandaid and some alcohol wipes.

I will tell you this. We were the first ones the State Police, Sheriffs deputies, and other agencies called when they lost a (this is for you, Lori) a "backpacker" out in the desert or high desert mountains in Far Southern CA. Nine times out of 10 it was a result of someone getting lost, injured, or out of water, food, etc. Unfortunately we had to recover a few bodies. The final part of our contribution to the tax payers, was to back track the individuals path, and reconstruct everything that happened. Fairly easy to do. We found one body, less than 500 yards from a ranch home and highway. Had those people had at least a rudimentary understanding of basic survival skills, they might have, and at least one case I remember, ended their backpacking trip on a great note.
Lori, I know this is a backpacing forum, please read through the thread, and you'll see that I'm not advocating it be turned into a training class for Military Special Operations Units.
Aside from the afore mentioned tragedies I was involved in, I have pulled several people out of the desert that were just plain in over thier heads, and suffering from near shock, near heat exhaustion, and just plain to physically unprepared for the terrain that they didn't realize how difficult it could be.
They had said that they had planned for a long time, and still came up short.
So, I'd like to end this thread on an upbeat note.
1. I'm not trying to recruit Spec Op's troops here, that can survive anything.
2. I'm not trying to turn a "backpacking" forum into a survival forum.
3. I've been around the world, not just Northern Kentucky, and am familiar with what we do and do not have to eat here, vs. what you might find in the high desert of Arizona. Snakes and Rat's basically.
4. If you feel perfectly safe with your planning and avoidance philosophy, to the point you can do a 100 mile solo trek in unknown territory, well by all means carry on. I'm not trying to force feed my philosophy of having the survival skills for the type of terrain, weather, and other situations you may or may not encounter.

This thread was, if you read it from the start, was just a question, born of curiosity.

It seems to be going horribly wrong, with some folks I'm getting the vibe of "how dare you question my skills, I know how to take precautions". Never was intended to go there.

Thanks for your participation and input, though.

Jim.

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#169531 - 09/18/12 02:49 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 927
Loc: Michigan
Actually an interesting take on this is in the book:

Who lives, who dies and why by Laurence Gonzales

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=who+lives+who+dies+and+why&sprefix=who+lives+%2Cdigital-text%2C288

The point of the book is that conditioning and knowledge is not the most important aspect. A will to live and being able to handle adverse conditions mentally is what keeps someone alive. Frequently the 125 pound geek will survive while the macho he man dies.

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#169534 - 09/18/12 03:47 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Jim, I'm sorry you took my short addition to your thread the wrong way. The comment about the desert rat in Kentucky was just teasing you a little. I probably should have put a wink or such after it. My only assumption is that you might think it was funny. I always thought a pack rat was someone who had an over abundance of stuff like hardware stashed "just in case" like my neighbor. Here in Southern California, I have only heard of people like me being called desert rats. I'm 55 and have many winter months in the desert, including Death Valley and all over the Mojave just to name a few spots. Summer I try to avoid the desert. Even the high desert in California, like Edwards AFB, is just not that pleasant that time of year.

Anyway, my real addition to this thread is the second paragraph in my previous post. I've seen more than one person trying to show how to get water out of a cactus when we are nearing the end of the dry season. Even putting the cuttings into a survival still did not generate much water for the work that went into it. The snakes and creepy crawlies don't really bother me. In fact, the snakes are good eating if roasted nicely over coals.

Other than using your head, because that's the best tool you have, I guess I am not real sure what you are after. Seems to me that in the desert, being water wise and avoiding over heating is very important. Lots of people die in our desert every year, a fair number of them with some water left in their canteen. I believe its a similar situation along the Arizona border.

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#169540 - 09/18/12 04:52 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: skcreidc]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
No harm, no foul. Yep there is a real creature called a pack rat. Not real meaty, and not real tasty, but it beats nothing.
Didn't take your post the wrong way. Also very familiar with some of the places you've been. Desert camping in the winter/late fall is great! Unfortunately, during my military years, we had to train year around, and it wasn't real pleasant most of the time. Just as an aside, there's a great deal of water in Death Valley, if you know how to find it, and where. No need to suck on cactus..LOL...
Yes, you are correct about people dying out there each year. Sad, and usually avoidable.
Enjoy your day, I'm leaving for a trip in the morning. Meant to leave a couple of days ago, but heavy rain/thunderstorm warnings so I decided to delay it a couple of days. This will be a pretty easy trip, but plenty to enjoy. Going into the Daniel Boone National Park for a few.
Also will be testing and evaluating some new gear, so that'll be fun (I hope) Testing at home just can't tell you how it'll be out in the field so I might load some extra "old" gear in the truck, just in case.
Have a good one.

J.

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#169542 - 09/18/12 06:07 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I think you are misunderstanding my intent.

I consider preplanning a survival skill because it is. Going into the wilderness, downtown LA, or downtown Tokyo requires some preparation for Most people because going anywhere without knowing what you are up against is dangerous to some degree.

As a SAR volunteer who has searched the central Sierra for hunters, day hikers, campers, fishermen, tourists etc who Had no intent to be in a survival situation, i can tell you that they are getting in trouble at about the same rate as people who should know better or have significant experience or training. We have looked for lifelong backpackers and barefoot kids who "just went for a walk." We are still looking for an experienced, prepared hunter who vanished. The main survival skill Most have in common is the ability to stay calm. Being in an altered state due to dehydration or making decisions while panicked results in worse outcomes.

Learning as much as you can before going backpacking radically reduces risk of many extremely common problems. Awareness comes first. Then you have half a chance at getting people to make an attempt at skill building. Preventive SAR is one of my current and ongoing projects.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#169548 - 09/18/12 08:47 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Originally Posted By jbylake
Going into the Daniel Boone National Park for a few.
"Daniel Boone National Park"??? Don't you mean Daniel Boone National Forest?? This is similar in magnitude to the classic distinction between "rifle" and "gun". Drop and give me twenty, trooper!

This thread can use a little diversion, anyway......

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#169550 - 09/18/12 08:52 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By lori
I think you are misunderstanding my intent.

I consider preplanning a survival skill because it is. Going into the wilderness, downtown LA, or downtown Tokyo requires some preparation for Most people because going anywhere without knowing what you are up against is dangerous to some degree.

As a SAR volunteer who has searched the central Sierra for hunters, day hikers, campers, fishermen, tourists etc who Had no intent to be in a survival situation, i can tell you that they are getting in trouble at about the same rate as people who should know better or have significant experience or training. We have looked for lifelong backpackers and barefoot kids who "just went for a walk." We are still looking for an experienced, prepared hunter who vanished. The main survival skill Most have in common is the ability to stay calm. Being in an altered state due to dehydration or making decisions while panicked results in worse outcomes.

Learning as much as you can before going backpacking radically reduces risk of many extremely common problems. Awareness comes first. Then you have half a chance at getting people to make an attempt at skill building. Preventive SAR is one of my current and ongoing projects.

Lori, I agree. Planning is a survival skill. Heading out into difficult terrain, especially solo, requires much preperation and planning. Staying cool and confident comes with either experience or training, I think we're in agreement there also.
Being aware of your physical limits, is also a part of planning. Trust me, I'm getting older, I know. Now the only major component that seems to be at odds with, is knowing what to do when all goes horribly wrong. Staying cool, calm and level headed is absolutely necessary. But you can have ice water in your veins, and if you still do not know what to do, if your lust of nature, and the outdoors takes you to earth, and mother natures "bad" side all of the planning in the world can go out the window. That's the only point I was really trying to make. And a great many people have needlessly died, for lack of knowledge and skills. Do you see where I'm going with that? You can plan and prepare till the cows come home, but when the boogeyman comes, as we used to like to say, can you deal with him? Other than this one last point, I believe we are absolutely on the same page.

Cheers and best wishes to you up there in Alaska this winter.
Man I hate cold weather, so you can have it!

Oh and one last thought. My bucket list has at least one unfinished item, as far as backpacking goes, an area in which I have absolutely no training whatsoever, and that's an ECW trip. Yeah I know I said I hate the cold, and I've done some winter camping in the Rockies, with friends, where I've never strayed more than 100 yards from camp. But a winter trip to the Yukon, or another continent would definetly be cool. I was actually searching the web for somebody that does that kind of training or trips.

I think it would be more of a challange than even the hottest day in the sand, jungle or woods.

We'll see.

Jim


Edited by jbylake (09/18/12 09:01 PM)

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