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Poll results: 1 - 9 How would you fare alone in the wilderness for a year?

Voters
42. You may not vote on this poll
  • 9. Just hand me a machete and a quart of reindeer blood and I'm good to go!

    3 7.14%
  • 8.

    1 2.38%
  • 7. I could and would do such a think for a year, but not 30

    6 14.29%
  • 6.

    6 14.29%
  • 5. I'm confident I could survive such an existence but wouldn't willingly

    12 28.57%
  • 4.

    3 7.14%
  • 3. I MIGHT be able to survive, but no way in hell I'd attempt it

    5 11.90%
  • 2.

    3 7.14%
  • 1. Did you say survive the Alaskan wilderness alone? Can I eat Cheetos and watch Love Boat reruns?

    3 7.14%
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Thread: Alone in the Wilderness

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Alone in the Wilderness

    This weekend I saw an interesting video called "Alone in the Wilderness". It told the story of Richard Proenneke and how at age 51 he went to a remote location in Alaska, built a log cabin out of hand tools and survived/lived there alone for the next 30 years.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Proenneke
    If the year had been 1810 we probably would have counted Mr. Proenneke in the ranks of the 'mountain men'.

    It seems it takes a very special type of individual to willingly live a solitary existence. Usually we associate the term 'hermit' with misanthropy (not liking people - think Ted 'unibomber' Kaczinski), but it occurs to me there are different shades of solitary existence. There are religious hermits - folks who feel they must live atop the mountain to contemplate their place in the universe without the distraction of living within the context of a society. Then there are folks who choose to live more or less solitary existences through their vocation (lighthouse keeper, 'mountain man' fur trapper, Maytag repairman... ).

    Richard Proenneke, as I understand, was a very skilled diesel mechanic by trade and managed to save up a tidy nest egg which he used for purchasing what he called 'luxuries' (coffee, bacon and pancake mix). Otherwise, he relied solely on the fruits of his own labor and could have survived without spending any money, had he chose. He built his own cabin using about 8 or 9 hand tools (he carved some of the handles himself, though), constructed his own furniture, eating utensils, outhouse, garden, in-ground refrigerator/freezer. The man was extremely resourceful and intelligent, yet he decided to more or less drop out of 'civilization'. He himself stated he did this "so as to test himself against the forces of nature" and originally set out to do this for a year. He ended up spending the next 30 alone in the wilderness.

    At some level I can relate to Mr. Proenneke's impulses. I understand the deeply spiritual feeling one gets while being alone with nature. I relish time away from the busy little chipmunks who so often surround me in society. While I am by nature an introvert, I still acknowlege that I require human interaction and would probably suffer living a solitary existence for an entire year, much less 30. On a pragmatic level I must concede that while I would probably do fairly well in the hunting/gardening department (I'm allergic to fish and would lose an important dietary source) and could eat well enough to survive, my construction skills are sadly lacking and lack the knowlege to construct a shelter adequate to sustain me through an Alaskan winter.

    Do you think you could survive alone in the wilderness for a year? If not what would ultimately do you in....starvation? Exposure to the elements? Social isolation?

    Lastly, how come you never hear about female hermits? I see no reason why a woman couldn't survive alone. No reason a woman couldn't possess the knowlege or ability to build a shelter, shoot a rifle, fish, or grow food.
    Last edited by Maister; 21 Feb 2006 at 12:01 PM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
         
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    No, not alone...I couldn't do it...I could live in the wilderness with someone else for a year but not by myself...I would go crazy....no one to talk to, no one to laugh with, no way. I wouldn't want to be anywhere alone for a year...I am much too social of a person for that.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    What do I get to walk into the woods with? Do I get a healthy head start by bringing my sleeping bag, tent, stove, and lotsa dried fruits? Or are you dropping us in with a knife and the clothes on our back? That's gonna make a difference... if we just get the knife, then I die. its as simple as that. Maybe three nights out, tops. They'd find my filthy, non-mechanically-inclined body decomposing under the wet leaves I would have pulled over top of me. If I get the amenities that I'm used to having while backpacking, I might be able to pull something together.

    Then again, like you're saying, physical survival doesn't mean emotional survival. I like people way too much.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I freak out when I see a friggin cockroach. There's no way I would survive or would even want to survive that type of existence. I was born into this era for a reason, so there's no need for me to wonder what I would have been like in any other era.

    What's with the poll options?
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I guess I could be alone in the wilderness, at least I'm quite confident that I wouldn't get lost, although my hunting skillz are minimal, but I doubt that spears are hard to make...

    As for living alone I have no problems, since I do, and it'd be quite more logical to be alone in the wilderness instead of being alone in a city filled with strangers...

  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I could do it for a while, as long as I had a building already built for me and could bring basic tools (plane, hatchett, saw, etc.) and some wool blankets/clothes.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  7. #7
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planderella
    What's with the poll options?
    The even numbers are gradations somewhere along the continuum between the explanatory remarks. I guess I'm not clever enough to come up with 9 witty/insightful poll choices, yet felt it was necessary to allow for more distinctions, nevertheless.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I think I could do it, but have absolutely no desite to.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian michiganplanner's avatar
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    I could do it. Living off the land no problem. Living in the wilderness and constructing my own shelter no problem. I could even survive a year no problem. Bu I am sure that I would begin to long for others after the one year mark.
    I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

  10. #10
    maudit anglais
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    Where do I sign up?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I get this way sometimes, when work is pissing me off, or the general world is getting to me. Except my thing would probably be staying in my uncle's cabin (reminds me of a Rush song: "My uncle has this country place... that no one knows about...") Anyways, I would stay there, fishing in the pond up the hill, gardening the lush soil of the White River Valley of the Flattops Wilderness, and dancing naked by the fire pit .

    I could go out and build shelter, find food, etc, I have had wilderness survival training, but I probably couldn't go for 30 years. Maybe if I lose my mind... keep an out for a package Rumpy....
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Georgia Public TV shows Alone in the Wilderness quite often during their pledge cycles - fascinating stuff...

    ...but as for me - my idea of camping is roughing it at the Hampton Inn. I'll pass on the wilderness survival thing.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    I've done a week at a time many times prior to being married and having a family. I have spent a week in the mountains of Utah and all over southern Utah (Arches and Canyonlands) and not had any human contact while there. This was 12-18 years ago and would be harder to do now because some of those spots are becoming more popular.

    Of course I had a backpack full of stuff to live on too.

    I bet that a very small percentage of Americans have EVER gone 7 days without ANY human contact. No visible sign of another human, no news, no cell phone, no road, etc. It's not easy.
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.”-- William H. Whyte..

  14. #14
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by prana
    I bet that a very small percentage of Americans have EVER gone 7 days without ANY human contact. No visible sign of another human, no news, no cell phone, no road, etc. It's not easy.
    I was thinking much the same myself. I wonder how many folks who chose the 'do a year, but not 30 yrs' truly understand the nature of complete social isolation. I once went 17 days without interacting with any humans and found myself having conversations with myself near the end. Unless one has experienced it, it's difficult to explain how basic this need/desire is to our existence. It's by no means easy.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  15. #15
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    i think i could survive the isolation as long as there were plenty of chipmunks and birds to talk to. i'd have a much more difficult part killing things in order to survive. i suppose if i had to i could do it, but i'd prefer someone else to do the killing part and then pretend that bacon comes from a magical tree.

    i think i'd prefer to be stranded on a tropical island than the remote alaskan wilderness.


    *daydreams of relaxing on a beach*
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    While we may think that this is remarkable, I think it would be very possible with the right training and education.

    There are parts of the UP that have people who live in cabins out in the woods and once winter rolls around no one can get to them and they can’t get out. They grow and hunt what they need to eat, collect rain water, burn wood for heat. One guy even built him self a natural refrigeration unit that he supplies with ice that he collects in the winter and buries in sawdust.

    I think that the hardest part would be the isolation from other humans.
    Last edited by michaelskis; 21 Feb 2006 at 12:38 PM.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  17. #17
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    When I worked in Alaska, I of course met quite a few folks who lived similar to this fellow. The borough surveyor was a hardy sort and lived in a cabin with no electricity or other amenities. He had an outhouse that essentially was a hole in the ground and he put a refrigerator box over it and cut a door.

    One of the planning commission members lived for years in a oceanfront cabin in Nome with no improvements.

    Each eventually got back to the grid - for one reason - they wanted to have families. The surveyor's wife didn't want to rough it that much. The planning commissioners tired of being a hippie chick and wanted kids, home and a decent architect job.

    The solitude wouldn't bother me. I would like that part. I have decent woodman skills, so I could probably get along and learn as I go. Don't think I could build a whole cabin, so I need some help there. But I could grow or kill my own food, chop the needed firewood, fashion adequate furnishings and make repairs. Be fun for a while, but I am sure I would tire of the outhouse after a few months, especially in the winter.

    Of course I would have to get a divorce. My wife would never go that route again. She grew up on a farm in Colombia that was pretty much self-sustaining. Their house and lifestyle was by no means primitive, but she lived a life a lot more basic than any of use lived for a sustained time.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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  18. #18
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    You can do it!

    Quote Originally posted by otterpop
    snip... Don't think I could build a whole cabin, so I need some help there. ...snip
    I think that you and many people in here underestimate their skills. Think about all of the issues that we think through each day, problems that we solve, and the results that we achieve.

    A cabin is not too complex once you understand it, the hard part is moving the logs into place without them giving loose and crushing you. Many, if not all, can be moved into their final places using basic wedge, lever, and skid principles.

    Quote Originally posted by prana
    I bet that a very small percentage of Americans have EVER gone 7 days without ANY human contact. No visible sign of another human, no news, no cell phone, no road, etc. It's not easy.
    I think that you’re right.
    Last edited by michaelskis; 21 Feb 2006 at 2:22 PM.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by prana
    bet that a very small percentage of Americans have EVER gone 7 days without ANY human contact. No visible sign of another human, no news, no cell phone, no road, etc. It's not easy.
    I understood following Katrina that this was the case for many people living out in rural areas. Couldn't get out, couldn't get in, no electricity, etc., and for longer than a week. Must happen to plenty of folks after other natural disasters, too.

    As for me, I'd never do it willingly. For one thing, I'd die pretty quick, and for another, I'd miss the library.

  20. #20
    I have spent a total of four solitary days in my life. It was while on a bike tour. I was talking to myself, quite contently. The elements and solitude would get to me.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Given the training on how to build his cabin, I could do what Wayne did. He got a monthly load of supplies flown in, remember that. Plus, there was lots of game around to eat.

    I love seeing that show.
    What do you mean I can't plan? My SimCity has 300,000 people with a 99% happiness rating!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    I think that you and many people in here underestimate their skills. Think about all of the issues that we think through each day, problems that we solve, and the results that we achieve.

    A cabin is not too complex once you understand it, the hard part is moving the logs into place without them giving loose and crushing you. Many, if not all, can be moved into their final places using basic wedge, lever, and skid principles.
    Moving the logs and such wasn't really my concern. Don't know if I would have the skills to make a roof that didn't leak, or could take the snow load, or make a decent floor. Stuff like that. I have zero construction experience.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  23. #23
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Uggghh...

    I can be a solitary guy, but even I started getting lonely after just 24 hours alone (really alone) in the Absorka Range of Wyoming (Teton Science School Summer Program) I think I'd miss Cyburbia the most
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    I understood following Katrina that this was the case for many people living out in rural areas. Couldn't get out, couldn't get in, no electricity, etc., and for longer than a week. Must happen to plenty of folks after other natural disasters, too.
    Off-topic:
    And those living in the city limits as well. Why do you think we spent an entire month away from home? For the record, there are still sections of the city without electricity.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  25. #25
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    heh - I've seen that movie. It's on PBS quite often. Good movie.

    I think I could live alone like that for a year and actually enjoy it. I would just need the right training - and of course plenty of alcohol and/or drugs

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