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mattyboi

Your most serious survival experience?

13 posts in this topic

Curious how many of us players have ever been in a survival experience, or if not true "survival", what is the most dangerous or stressful situation you have been in out in the bush?

For example; when I was around 11 or 12 years old I went with my dad, brother, and some family friends on my first extended backpacking trip in the Badlands of South Dakota. The entire trip was around a week and a half. One evening we made camp and as I needed to relieve myself, I grabbed a small trowel we had brought for the purpose, and walked a ways into the woods for some privacy. And as you might guess, I made the mistake of not checking behind me to mark my return trip, so after I had finished my business, I realized I didn't have an idea of how to get back to our camp. Then to make matters worse, my first instinct was to panic, and take off running. Thank God I stopped at some point and realized I was probably making a big mistake. I shouted for my dad. When he called back I could barely hear him, which is saying something as he had taken voice lessons in college and probably has the loudest set of pipes of anyone I know. But at least I could hear him, and we kept calling to each other until I found my way back. When I came out into a clearing I realized I had completely overshot our camp and had been headed out into the middle of nowhere. Also, it was nearly sunset, and I had no other equipment with me besides the trowel. It impressed on me at an early age that small mistakes in the wilderness can cascade into serious situations very very quickly.

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Posted (edited)

I've had a few. :)

  • Charged by a mama moose... fortunately she broke off pretty quickly (phew)
  • Had bears raid my camp and one stopped right outside me bitty tent to sniff around.  It was a really hot night so I didn't have a fly on the tent, man he looked huge close up.
  • Had a redwood fall over while out hiking in a rainstorm in the coastal california mountains.  It fell straight toward me but was about 10m too short to hit me (phew again).  
  • I lost a boot during a similar hike while fording the umteenth flooded creek of the day.   I'd gotten too lazy to tie them together and slipped, dropping one boot.  It landed upright and zipped off down the stream like a little boat.  The last muddy, slippery 10km of that hike I did with one boot.

The most "real" survival experience was a day hike with my 72 yr old dad.  We'd climb a 1000m foothill near Denali -- more like a big mound of scree than a hill, actually.  And then a rain squall came up.   Quite suddenly, and so strong the rain drove through my hiking pants, ran down my legs and filled my boots inside just a couple minutes.  It also turned the little map we'd gotten from the lodge into a useless wad of wood pulp, lol.  We emptied our boots and tried to to find the trail back down... slippery scree is bad footing for an old guy, so it was slow going.  We never found the trail.  We ended up descending the hill by launching ourselves from one alder bush down into the next.  When we got down the creek -- which had been a trickle earlier -- was now a waste high torrent.  So I showed my dad how to grab each other's belts and crossed, 72 yr old slo-mo speed (more slippery rocks on the creek bed).  And just to make it even better, about the time we got halfway across the folks at the lodge on the far side chased a black bear out of camp.  It ran straight for us.  We shouted our heads off and it turned at the last second (phew).

Anyway, the folks at the lodge were super happy to see us since we were several hours overdue, I think they were planning a search party when we turned up. :P 

My small mistake that almost cost us: not putting the map in a ziplock.  I do that for backpacking but this was just a day hike so I got lazy.  

Edited by Ruruwawa
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The most serious i have done is not that serious, but one time i was running a Marathon in our capital and suddenly after 24 km my knee felt strange. A marathon is 41,195 km. Like my kneecap was on its way out of its place. So i had to stumble on one leg the rest of the route. Maybe the last 5 kms or so my knee felt a little better so i could begin walking normally again. But it was a long distance to stumble, it was in a city so i was in no danger but i didnt knew the city so i couldnt take any shortcut even if i wanted. My longest run up until that point was 32km but i made it.

Another time was after school i was just a little kid and i had to bike home normally this takes 15 minutes or so, but this day there was a snowstorm and the snow had stockpiled on the road cause it was a small rural road. The snow reached up till my waist. And i had to drag my bike through this aswell. It was really tough. At one point i didnt have more energy in me so i just laid down in the snow and gathered some energy. When i had energy to move again i said fuck this i go up on the field where there not much snow. But i had to climb the small hill to get there not much maybe 1m or 1,5meter but with my bike and through snow it was hard but i made it. Then later the road split in two and i thought i would turn left whereas normally i would just go straight, because turning left gave me some cover from the wind. But it was a mistake because here again i ran into an area where the snow had piled up. So i had to go through this deep snow again. The trip took maybe an hour or a little more and when i came home i had nothing left in me and just dropped to the toilet floor.

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1 hour ago, exeexe said:

At one point i didnt have more energy in me so i just laid down in the snow and gathered some energy.

I know exactly how this feels. One time a friend and I were out in the woods in Montana. We'd been exploring around all day and were trying to get back to our cabin. We ran into a huge snow drift across our path, where the snow went from being at knee level to waist level and then chest level. I'm 2m tall, so I went first trying to break a path through for him to follow after me. In places this drift came up to my neck. It was absolutely exhausting work; took the better part of an hour for us to go maybe 10m because I'd have to keep pausing and just lay down in the snow to try to recover my energy. And after we got through I had to lay there a while again to get the energy to keep walking home.

After that experience I promised myself that if I ever ran into that situation again, I'd spend the time trying to find away around the drift rather than trying to walk through it, because it really is not worth the energy to do it.

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On a day hike stuck in a sleet storm on a mountain, soaked, freezing, little to no visibility, and rocks are icy.  Stay in the rock crevace sliding into hypothermia and hope it doesn't get colder? Try to make it to better shelter and hope you don't slip and fall or slide too far into hypothermia?  We had 3 people in the group and we couldn't decide.  So 2 stayed in the crevase and the 1 convinced walking would be best set out.  The walking one got down to below the trees, found a lean-to, made a fire, dried out a little, made soup and then hauled the soup back up to the 2 in the rocks (following the trail of random items dropped because borderline hypothermia makes you think things like this are smart). Everyone then stumbled back down to the lean-to and somehow managed to live to agree to never tell a living soul - in particular the parents.  Good times, good times.

Also, the soup was stone cold by the time it got back up to the rocks, but not a drop was spilled - so that counts for something, right?

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@Jolan I've never been seriously close to hypothermia myself. Growing up in Minnesota my dad would give us lectures about it and he read us "To Build A Fire" when we were young so I was always conscientious of not putting myself in that position.

I have had to help people who were hypothermic (or nearly there), but it was in a group and we got a fire going quickly so it never felt that serious at the time. But having seen what it's like, I would be very concerned about being hypothermic by myself. They get pretty loopy. 

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34 minutes ago, mattyboi said:

@Jolan I've never been seriously close to hypothermia myself. Growing up in Minnesota my dad would give us lectures about it and he read us "To Build A Fire" when we were young so I was always conscientious of not putting myself in that position.

I have had to help people who were hypothermic (or nearly there), but it was in a group and we got a fire going quickly so it never felt that serious at the time. But having seen what it's like, I would be very concerned about being hypothermic by myself. They get pretty loopy. 

Its a lot like being slightly drunk - you're dumb and you know you're dumb so you think you're compensating by being extra smart, but basically, you're dumb as rocks.  The only reason we survived that huge cloud burst and freeze is luck and the fact that we did actually know what we were doing. And tended to go out over prepared for the day.  As an example for a day hike in summer I had two sets of matches, mittens, a wool hat, a poncho,  a wool sweater, food for two days, a space blanket and a tarp.  Along with the usual stuff - compass, jackknife, chocolate, binoculars, etc. :) That mountain kills a lot of people, we got lucky.

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31 minutes ago, Jolan said:

Its a lot like being slightly drunk - you're dumb and you know you're dumb so you think you're compensating by being extra smart, but basically, you're dumb as rocks.  The only reason we survived that huge cloud burst and freeze is luck and the fact that we did actually know what we were doing. And tended to go out over prepared for the day.  As an example for a day hike in summer I had two sets of matches, mittens, a wool hat, a poncho,  a wool sweater, food for two days, a space blanket and a tarp.  Along with the usual stuff - compass, jackknife, chocolate, binoculars, etc. :) That mountain kills a lot of people, we got lucky.

That's always a good idea. I live in Colorado now and the locals all give the same advice. Freaky stuff can happen at elevation, even in summer. 

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Wow nice stories. I got nothing like that to share I guess. Just some solitary hiking where you have not the best shooes on and it's slippery/raining.

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Posted (edited)

When I was possum trapping in the Tawa Hut area of the Urewera National Park, I would walk 12 hours into the hut with the first load of basic supplies (60 kgs), then go back out a couple of days later for the rest. I'd stay in for a month, then walk back out with fur, and any meat (venison, possum, eel) I had left over, go home to my wife for a week of rest, and do it all again. On my way in on one trip, I saw a small mob of deer across the river not far from the hut, about 30 minutes walk, so decided to take the rifle the next morning, and pick up an "easy" deer early in the stay. I downed a nice big Red hind up on a slip face, and started making my way back down the ridge line with the 90 - 110 kg carcass on my back. I missed my footing, and wrenched my knee sideways tearing a 25mm diameter hole in the cartilage, and stretching the tendons. I knew I would not make it across the river with a busted knee, as it was mid winter, and the river was at it's peak volume which is touch and go to cross even with two good legs. So I took only the heart, liver, and back steaks from the deer, and left the rest. I made a rough two way splint to stop the lower leg continually pulling away from the upper, and started dragging myself the 2+ km upstream to where I could start crossing the three smaller tributary rivers with a little more safety. It took two days to drag myself back to the hut, and I'd slept in a pig burrow for the night, making sure to pee around the entrance so no wild pigs would wander in unaware, and find me in their bed. I never carried an emergency beacon, so I had to stay until either I was able to hobble out, or someone came looking for me when I didn't come home at the end of the month. Either way, over half the months supplies were back at my truck, and I had left most of the months meat supply on the other side of the river. Luckily, I'd had a good run with weather on my last trip, so managed to spend a few extra clear days off the trap line getting fire wood stored away ... it was only a weeks worth, but it was still a good help. I'd drag myself out into the bush on clear days, and put branches on a tarp, then drag it back behind me to the hut, eating as many bugs, and grubs as I could find on the way. Fire is essential for morel in bad situations, and being cold and wet mid winter, it meant I could make tea, hot chocolate, and some basic hot meals to keep myself in a good mood through the pain. I always took flour, and rice in the first supply trip ... so I was able to lay on the floor and make a few loaves of damper bread, and add Huhu Grubs to the rice to make it go further. I'd left a jar of peanut butter there on the last trip, so toasted peanut butter sandwiches were a my little treat in the evenings when the wind and rain made things seem a little bleak (when I found peanut butter in this game, I couldn't stop smiling). After three weeks of doing as much as I could in a horizontal position to let the inflammation go down, and being pretty damn hungry, I fixed a branch to my rifle so I could use it as a crutch with the butt in my armpit .... and started out to my truck. It took me three days to get to the road, I could barely move by the time I got there, and I had completely stopped shivering, so I was in the early / mid stages of hypothermia. My leg had fully stopped working by this stage, and I couldn't use the clutch, so I took the stick off the rifle, and used it to hold the clutch peddle down and change gears on the 1 1/2 hour drive home. It was a real test of mental strength more than physical, and highlighted the need to stay focused on what you HAVE TO do so you don't just lay down and stop moving out of feeling hopeless. 

I'll put photo of the Tawa Hut below, and a pic of the general area for reference. The Tawa Hut in the photo was my home for just over two years ... I loved that place :)

DSC01341_th.jpg

51492213.jpg

Edited by Shane Retter
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 Amazing story Shane. Really incredible. Thanks for sharing it and it's good to still have you with us. Did the leg heal up? I would imagine with such a serious injury and what with so much time elapsing before treatment, it was a long road to recovery.

 Thanks again for typing that up.

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@Carbon 14 years on, and it still plays up from time to time. Luckily the tendons weren't so badly stretched that my knee stayed permanently disjointed. It's still a little ..wobbly ... and It put an end to all my more 'adventurous' hunting trips.

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I agree, that's a great story; thank you for sharing!

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