Monday, October 24, 2011

Survival Trip 2.5

As some of you may know, my good friend Scott and I got on a "Survivorman" kick a few years back. You may remember the show. A guy named Les Stroud would head off into the wild and

survive on nothing for a week or so. Not like Bear Grylls. I know you know who that guy is. He drinks his own urine from snakes' skins, interacts with wild animals placed in the wild by animal trainers hired by Discovery Channel producers and pretends to stay out in the wild even though he actually hikes back to town with his camera crew and sleeps in comfy hotel rooms until it's time to go back out and pretend to survive off the land.

Les Stroud is the real deal though. No camera crew. No faking. Just a Canadian musician/filmmaker who does it all himself and survives. So, we were inspired and planned a couple of trips of our own to see if we could survive on nothing. We work though, so the trips don't last quite as long. I video blogged half of the first one, which can be seen here, before the trip took a less than favorable turn. I ended up with an inch long scar on my leg to forever remind me of the failed ten mile canoe trip and I'm pretty sure Scott's pride took an equally long lasting hit. We did survive and we even caught our own food and collected and boiled our own water. Basically we just went through the motions and didn't die of dysentery, though a dramatic canoe tipping in 40 degree water did almost do us in.

Never-the-less, we set out to redeem ourselves about a year later. That was in the form of an eight mile hike through the woods. I'll save you the play by play. I rolled my ankle on the second day and we had a couple of girls pick us up on some country road we found. I ended day two by sitting on a couch with my foot propped up on pillows and watching football. Best survival trip ever.

The wild, having put us in our place for another year or so, once again called our names. Last week we decided to recreate the same trip and set out on another eight mile hike through the woods. This was redemption time and redeem we did. If you're at work and don't have a lot of time to read, then you should just stop now knowing we made it through. A little battered and bruised, but we kicked the wild's butt and here goes the play by play.

We always try to take a before and after pic, just to show how our smiling faces transform into hateful begrudging grimaces by the end of the trip. So we started true to form.

Prepared to embrace the wild!

We hiked for probably five miles before stopping

for lunch. I know, I know, how are we
"surviving in the wild" if we had lunch? We split a two year old MRE (meal ready to eat). It was gross. A whole lot of stuff comes in those little packs though. The chicken breast had the consistency of tuna fish. I only had a couple of bites before I gave up. Scott powered through. His favorite part was the jalapeno cheese spread. It really wasn't all that bad.

Don't let Scott's face fool you. He ate that stuff up with vigor. Unfortunately, one of the things he had to eat it on was a piece of bread that is meant to stay fresh for YEARS! A little suspect if you ask me. There was an apple crisp bar included in the pack though and it was delicious and we ate the whole meal under this overhanging cliff that sat next to the river. It was beautiful and the hour we took to eat the meal was well appreciated.
 Even though we were in the middle of nowhere, we were next to a river and figured someone had picked this spot to take a break from canoeing several months back. We found some chalk drawings dated June 26th, 2011. I know this girl who absolutely hates the phrase, "Live, Laugh, Love" and I was quick to take this pic of almost that exact phrase written on the side of a cliff five miles into the woods.
What are the chances? We were just talking about this a few hours earlier and here it was. Priceless. I should point out that Scott planned our route through the mountains and assured me that there would be very few hills based on his expert planning skills.

If you look into the distance of this pic, you'll see the three or four hills that we'd already traversed. We had to veer a little off of our original route in order to enjoy the picturesque location where we'd had our "lunch." So, in Scott's defense, these massive and steep hills I was forced to trek up and down carrying a 60 lb backpack were not in the original plan and the riverside dining was well worth it BUT...

The hills in front of me in this shot. The ones that span as far as the eye can see. These hills were in his plan and weren't something I had been made privy to. Sometimes I love Scott. Sometimes I don't. You tell me which one of those thoughts are going through my head here.

I'll give you a hint. I was not very happy but it was tough to be too mad because it was a beautiful day and, even though it was hill after hill as far as the eye could see, those hills were a pretty amazing sight. I'll call it a push.

We ended up hiking about six miles that day. Probably more when you consider all the zigging and zagging. There aren't a whole lot of straightaways in the woods. The hope was that by 5pm we'd make it to a big group of pine trees we'd seen on Google Earth when Scott planned the trip. 5pm hit and we were there. Right on schedule we'd cleared a spot out in the woods, set up our tents and built a fire.

Scott then built a survivor style Lazy Boy from a log, a tree and his backpack as the Rangers threw our the first pitch against Detroit. Having constant connection to all things sports related, Scott had the small radio he carries along on all our survival trips. It's a small convenience. Don't judge us.

The fire was nice, it was a crisp clear night and the Rangers stomped the Tigers. That made Scott happy. I really didn't care, but I was tired and just happy to sit for more than an hour. We would only have a few miles to hike out in the morning, so once Scott crashed out I listened to some old 90s rock on the tiny little radio and went to "bed" earlier than I ever had on any camping trip ever.

Nothing too eventful occurred. We heard an armadillo making its way into our campsite and after half a month of watching horror movies in preparation for Halloween, I have to admit it was a little unnerving as I scrambled for my flashlight. I think the armadillo was a little more scared though. You should have seen the look on his face! Very apologetic for scaring me though. Armadillos are good people.

The next day started early. We tuned in a little NPR and "enjoyed" a little breakfast.

For bacon and eggs with the instructions, "add boiling water and stir," these were surprisingly on the good side of edible.

 I warned you that this BLOG post wouldn't be brief! On the way out, we saw dozens of lizards, suffered through some of the densest woods and the most gnats I have ever encountered in my life. We sweat buckets and ran into two turtles. It's almost impossible to get them to smile.

More than once while sporting my best zombie makeup, I've been heard going on about how "I like turtles." Sometimes they're just jerks though.

That aside though, we made it out. We traveled almost the exact route we'd intended and we exited the woods in the EXACT spot we were supposed to. Less than one hundred yards from where we put the hike behind us was Scott's wife waiting to whisk us back to the city life. We survived and we don't even look that upset in the after picture.


Eight + miles is a pretty long hike through underbrush and fallen trees. That doesn't even account for the countless hills and all that with a 60lb backpack strapped to my back. It's roughly the equivalent of having a fourth grader hang on your back and relentlessly strangle you for two days. As it ends up this can result in impressive blisters on both of your feet.
Didn't roll my ankle though! Leave 'em wanting more! Now that's how you end a BLOG!!

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