The weather right now is perfect for camping. Unfortunately our schedules haven’t allowed much time away. But we live on four beautiful acres, so we don’t have to leave to enjoy the outdoors. (Check out those azaleas!) Camping here, we don’t need cat-sitters, I’m available for work emergencies, and we have access to all the conveniences of home.
But wait. What if we didn’t?
Kent can handle the roughest of situations. I’ve always bragged that he could be dropped off in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a knife and he’d be fine.
Me, while thoughts of planning for the “zombie apocalypse” have been on my mind for years, I’ve done a lot of reading, but very little practice. I’m uncomfortable with how much I rely on internet, electricity, and nearby well-stocked stores. And I love camping, but I’ve never done it without a tent and a nearby bathroom.
We know that with our plans to travel to remote places in the RV, we may find ourselves in situations where we’ll have to survive for a while on our own with just the supplies we have with us. And having to find our way out of the woods after wandering off the trail on a “quick” hike to a waterfall in Maine made me really want to be sure I’d know what to do if we’d been stuck out there all night. (We weren’t actually lost. We could still hear the waterfall, but having to pick our way through and around trees and thick bushes to get back to it made me a bit nervous.) It’s great to have a well-stocked backpack of supplies, but not if it’s back in the truck.
We just watched “Jericho” for, I don’t know, the fourth time? (I loved that show. Obviously.) And we just finished watching season one of “The Colony.” Survival skills and preparation has been a frequent topic of conversation lately.
Inspired by our recent playing of “Call of Cthulhu” (long story about how that relates), we started talking about using our own land to work on our wilderness skills.
We decided to make it like a game. Starting out, we’re only allowed whatever clothing and supplies we’d have on a casual hike, based on yesterday’s weather. For me, that was jeans, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, socks, sneakers, my camera, and a water bottle. Luckily for me, it was just cold enough that I threw on a thermal shirt under my t-shirt at the last minute. For Kent, it was his hat, jeans, a tank top, a long-sleeved shirt, socks, boots, his keychain, a small razor knife, a “drop leg” with a knife, and a thermos of coffee. (Do I need to mention our underwear? Yes, we wore some.) We both wore elastic hair ties, and I had chapstick. Kent would normally have his lighter, but we decided to leave that and our phones behind.
Kent’s obviously a lot more prepared than I am. Aside from the two knives, he also has a flashlight and small leather whip on his keychain. And his boots have laces; my shoes fasten with velcro. I do have the advantage of my water over his coffee but his thermos does have a cup.
Everything we use has to be from nature. In a real situation, we’d likely find trash and other objects left behind by other people, but the only thing we’ll be doing with any such things we find around here is cleaning them up. (Hey, extra bonus!)
To be clear, this isn’t a plan to just move out into our yard. We’ll be noting what animals in our yard could be killed for food, but we won’t actually be killing any. We will eventually be eating various plants growing around, but finding out which ones are edible will be done by research, not experimentation. (This is meant to be educational, not a race to see who can end up in the hospital first. :-p) We can use our bathrooms, and won’t be sleeping on the bare ground because I’d rather not wake up covered in spiders and fire ants. (My squeamishness about bugs is actually one of the bigger challenges I’m hoping to conquer.)
It’s going to be a slow learning process involving lots of research, likely focusing on one or two skills at a time, not the rush it would be to prepare everything if we were really stuck in the wilderness. And we’ll obviously be doing this around all of our other obligations, so I don’t expect us to find a system for getting drinkable water until long after we would have died of dehydration…
Our “prizes” for improving and using our skills will be having access to and stocking our backpacks. For example, we both have various supplies for starting fires, but we only get those once we’ve started one without them. (We’ve actually done this before, but with minor cheating.) This will be a really good exercise for figuring out which backpacking supplies are “must-haves,” “nice-to-haves,” and “don’t-needs.”
I know some of you reading this are into preparedness, you may even call yourselves survivalists, and some of you have military experience. So as you’re laughing at our inexperience (well, my inexperience), tips are very welcome. We’ll be trying different methods of doing things, some of which will probably work great and others of which will probably fail miserably. It should be a fun experiment!
Really hoping we earn our “prize” of bug repellent before mosquito season…