Sunday, August 22, 2010

TV Series Review: I Shouldn't Be Alive

A while back I was flipping through the channels on TV and came across "I Shouldn't Be Alive" on the Discovery Channel. I immediately began saying "what an idiot," or "why don't you just...," or "if I was there I would do A, B, and C." It's a lot easier to see the perfect solution of a problem when you are on the outside looking in, but it would be very beneficial to have the skills to get an outside perspective when you are actually in the thick of a hairy situation.

I'm going to attempt to break down one of those less-than-wise casualties as well as that of a survivor, and then give examples for what the human body is really capable of when put in an impossible situation.

Bad example: Lost in the Snow
A husband and wife leave in a hurry to get to a funeral for the husbands relative who lives two states away. They leave California and head towards Idaho, only to have their route cut off by a severe blizzard. Finding out that the Inter-State had been closed, they decide to purchase a road atlas and attempt to cross Nevada on a different road (mistake #1: if a major highway/freeway has been closed due to weather, most likely a smaller road will be worse off - snow plows are going to do everything they can to keep the inter-state open, not some small road out in the middle of nowhere). They run into the same storm they were trying to avoid, are unsure which road they are driving on (mistake #2),  and eventually get stuck in the snow. They stay in the truck overnight (good), then wrap themselves up the best they can and zip the baby up in a garment bag to drag him in behind them as they hike on the road in the same direction they were headed (mistake #3 and #4, why wouldn't they either stay put, or hike in the opposite direction they came since, obviously, plows rarely go down the road, meaning they are not headed TOWARD civilization, but AWAY from it...).
End of the story - they hike aimlessly around the frozen desert until he decides to leave the wife and baby in a cave while he hikes back toward the truck. When he gets to the truck it doesn't start (of course) so he hikes in the OPPOSITE direction they were originally headed, flags down a truck, and they are all saved.

Good example : Solo Hiker Drags Himself 15 Miles
I wasn't able to find the title of this story, but it is too good not to use as my positive example.
A man who is used to navigating and solo hiking goes on a long hike during the wintertime, and is swept away by an avalanche. He survives, but not without the violence of the avalanche first breaking his hip. He is alone, has little, if any, food, and is far out enough in the countryside that he has no chance of someone coming across him. He spends three days battling his fears of wolves he can hear in the distance, sub-zero temperatures throughout the whole ordeal,  and only his will to survive. He CRAWLS 15 (I can't remember the exact number) miles in the snow, all while his hip is on fire with pain. He eventually comes across the road he was intentionally crawling towards and finds a stick to use as a crutch: although it only makes it barely possible for him to move, and relieves none of the pain.
He spoke a lot of the "will to live," and that this is the only thing which kept him alive. He said that he wanted to give up hundreds of times, but refused to let his body stop moving.

The TV series, itself, is not that impressive. It appears that they didn't have much of a budget to work with, and the acting is pretty unimpressive for the most part. The message in each episode, and which makes the series worth watching, is very clear - if you want to live bad enough, than you will; if you lose your desire to fight for your life, than you will most likely lose it. Every person who gives in to their despair ends up dying in the end. The human body is capable of much more than we really understand, but without the skills to keep a positive mindset there is no chance of tapping into that power of the will to survive.

I would highly recommend this series to anyone who has an interest in wilderness survival. There are scenario's which take place in the desert, in the frozen tundra, on the ocean, and in pretty much every situation you can imagine. This series would be perfect for a Survival 101 class. If only such a class was offered at my University...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Worlds Highest Swing - New Zealand

A while back I came across this video of the "worlds highest swing" located in New Zealand. I would LOVE to do something like this. The first time I saw it I thought "why not just bungie jump," but it looks like the distance you swing is far greater than what you would ever be able to bungie jump.

This second video does a better job of showing the distance that these guys are swinging. Pretty sweet!!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trip Report: Thousand Lakes (Boulder Mountain), UT

Location: Fish Creek Reservoir, Boulder Mountain, Utah
Mileage: 3 Miles out-and-back, 6 total

Last weekend I went to Boulder Mountain here in Utah. It was a small hike, but I learned a lot in the over-nighter...

A year ago I took a friend to Fish Creek on Boulder Mountain for a quick little excuse of getting a backpacking trip in, as well as a prime opportunity to catch fish on a Lake where there would be very few other visitors. The weather was prime, and the hike was strenuous enough to feel good about ourselves once we reached the lake. After making our way around the boulder-covered (hence the name) shore-line, we camped at the inlet and caught fish, after fish, after fish. When we left the next day, I would say that I felt more confident with my fly-fishing abilities than my backpacking know-how.

This year was a little different, but more profound for me in may ways. I was meeting this same friend up at the lake (he decided to ride a 4-wheeler), and was left by myself to hike the steep 3-miles up to the small lake. About 2/3rds of the way up it started to rain, giving me an opportunity to test the integrity of the cover for my backpack, as well as the breathing ability and water proofing integrity of my rain jacket. I was breathing and sweating hard, but I was dry and I was happy. Being by myself gave me more freedom to take my time and really get a better sense of my surroundings.

Love finding those out-of-place scenes that don't seem to belong in Utah
Once I made my way around the lake I set up my minimized tent, using only the foot-print, poles, and rain-fly. This was the first time that I have ever used my tent without the tent body, and doing so saved two or three pounds in my pack. I was impressed with the structural integrity of the tent without the tent-body, and my friend and I both stayed dry during a mid-night storm. The only downside to not having the body, I soon discovered, was the large gap between the ground and the bottom of the rain-fly.

View of Fish Creek
When getting into my bag that night I saw a salamander chilling on my pad and looking up at me with a "what? I'm not bothering you - don't bother me" sort of look. I debated between just tossing it outside, or placing it on my friends head while he slept, but chose to toss it out. For some reason this little harmless salamander triggered thoughts of all those OTHER creatures who would probably have loved to crawl under the rain-fly and snuggle up with our warm bodies. Images of raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and mice danced in my head as I struggled to move as little as possible while in my sleeping bag (another thing I learned during this trip was that I am done with the 'down-slope shuffle' I struggle with when sleeping in a silky bag on a silky-textured pad while on a slope, and will fix the problem before going out again). I'll admit that I may have jumped to my headlamp once when hearing little paws next to my head, but all-in-all I was very pleased with the minimalist version of my great tent.

The last learning experience I had was with my trekking poles I used for the first time. I'll admit that I used to think that using poles when hiking was less-than-cool, and would silently mock those who used them. I tried using them on my way up to the lake, and after feeling ridiculous I determined that I would only use them when snowshoeing. On the way back down the mountain, however, I decided to see if the poles would help me get over the slick and steep terrain, and was very impressed. My opinion has TOTALLY changed, now I will use them when snowshoeing AND when hiking downhill:)

It was a great trip for learning more about my gear and how to work around rain storms. Due to the rain I only had about two hours worth of fly fishing and didn't catch anything, but felt like I got so much out of this trip that not catching anything meant very little in the grand scheme.
*Be sure to stop at Slackers for good hamburgers if you are ever passing through Torrey, UT.

Discovered that the Great Western Trail passes through part of this hike to the Lake

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Backpacker Magazine - Ask A Bear

Have you ever wanted to ask a Bear why he/she does the thing he/she does? If any of the many myths told around a campfire have any credibility? Or what the chances are of you making a bear mad when just trying to mind your own business? Well, wait no more...

Backpacker Magazine's "Ask a Bear" column is part of 'The Manual' weekly e-mail updates. The columns author, or "Bear", has done an excellent job of entertaining us with a bears take on how our careless mistakes in the wild are viewed and what we should be more careful of (along with what rediculous beliefs surrounding bears can be ignored and laughed at). Ever wanted to know if it's o.k. to not safely store food above the treeline? The "bear" anwers questions from whether or not soap/deodorant will attract attention from a bear, to whether or not it's a good idea to make whoopee in the great outdoors (or if human flactulence attracts a bear...).

If you have ever had a question for a bear, but haven't been able to have that intimate on-on-one conversation without having to worry about being his next lunch, than ask him HERE.

Since I'm on the subject of bears, check out this video. If you have ever wanted to know what it looks like to have two bears charge you than here you go. I'm sure that the guy shooting this video didn't admit   to having lost control of his bowels at the same time he fired his rifle...