Join Date: Dec 2003
I was an amateur day hiker for may years and every once in a while I'd get a wild hair up my ass and go on a walkabout for about a week in a survivalist situation where no man had gone before. One such excursion was in the forests of Big Sur, Ca which I wrote about on VNN many moons ago. Forests so vast and dense you wouldn't believe it. No one would ever find you if couldn't make it out on your own
You know what I learned what was the most important thing about survival? Not your backpack, food or medical supplies, water, bear spray or personal hygiene products. It's your brain. Don't lose your cool, don't panic. Think things out. Don't lose hope because if you do you're dead. Statistics show that people who get lost in the wilderness are dead within 3 days. Not from lack of water or food or warm shelter but because they gave up hope.
When I wrote this years ago I did it in a kind of light hearted manner which minimized the danger I had put myself in. I could have easily been a statistic but I didn't panic and I never gave up hope. In fact it never entered my mind.
Same here, about 10 years ago I hiked big Sur solo. You're supposed to stay on the trails and they are clearly marked but I didn't want to meet up with a bunch of weekender day hikers so I went off trail. The terrain was steep and the vegetation was so dense I only made 5 miles the first day. Beautiful country tho, Redwood trees 13 feet in diameter and the isolation! I was having the time of my life...until the weather went bad. On the second day it started raining. A hard, cold, drenching rain that wouldn't stop. I continued on but the night of the second day I crawled into my tent and sleeping bag a little worried. The stream I had crossed earlier was now a raging river so there was no going back and I wasn't sure what was up ahead. I knew where I was, basically. I knew north, south, east and west but I wasn't sure how I was going to get there. I only brought food for 4 days and it was almost gone and my knee was swelled up like a cantalope from all the climbing I had done and I was fuckin cold!
Third day, still no letup of rain. No cell phone reception, no one knew where I was at other than, "somewhere in big sur". Hell, if search and rescue flew right over me they never would have seen me because of the thick forest. Food nearly gone, knee still fucked up but even if I could walk it wouldn't matter because the rain storm was so heavy it made it impossible to travel.
So now I'm fighting the urge to panic. That black bear I saw yesterday is stalking me. Those creepy noises at night sound like wailing ghosts. Bigfoots gonna eat me and no one will ever know. It's funny the things that go thru your mind when you think you might die. You hear stories of people who get lost in the wilderness and are never found. I didn't want to be one of those.
Fourth day, still pouring and I'm real hungry and cold. I decide it's time to stop acting like Homer Simpson so I find a group of Redwood trees growing close together, so much so that the rain hardly even hits the ground. I move my campsite to there and get a fire started. I dig out my "Survivalist fish trap", that I have never used, and set it up at a nearby large running creek. I go back to camp and take stock of my gear. I have a Leathermen multi tool, a good Sierra tent and sleeping bag, water purifer, first aid kit, campstove and cooking utensils, 2 boxes of instant corn bread mix and a tube of margarine and thats it. I spend the next couple hours gathering firewood and then go down to the creek and eureka! Two good size trout in the fish trap. Grab-em, reset the trap and head back to camp for a fish fry. I spent the next two day catching and eating fish and grubbing on cornbread.
Sixth day, rain has stopped, knee feels great, gut is full so I break camp early and head for home. I keep on a westerly course because I know thats where the Pacific ocean is and even I can't miss that. The terrain is just as tough going out as it was going in but the beauty of the place makes it worthwhile. Spent the next night under the stars. Didn't even pitch my tent the weather was so good. The sky is so bright without city lights to fuck the view up. Next afternoon I climb down a ravine and then up and there it is, a hiking trail. With 2 hikers on it who were startled as hell seeing me emerge from the heavy forest.
"Hey, did you just come out of the bush?", they asked.
"Yep, been there about a week", I said.
"Wow dude, thats insane how did you do it"?
"Weren't nothing to it", I lied. "Just keep your wits about you and enjoy the scenery".
As I walked off they were still asking questions but I had no time for it. A hot shower, a thick steak, 6 beers and a woman were waiting for me.
Last edited by Steve B; January 25th, 2012 at 12:26 AM.