You have beans, Band Aids and bullets stored for when the SHTF. You have put some things back for those who didn’t prepare or maybe for anonymous donations to your church congregation. You have a little silver and a box of neat stuff designated for barter. You even remembered to buy extra seed for next years garden and you even thought to put books and games into storage for quiet times. Congratulations, you are a step ahead of 85% of the rest of the country.
Today was a dreary, grey, Sunday morning for April. The temperature was 26 degrees and as I poured my first bitter brew of the day, I witnessed large white snow flakes flying past the window carried on a 20 mile an hour icy wind. I snatched up my warm cup of coffee and headed over to the woodstove, picked up the fire poker and stabbed the fire making sparks float up the chimney. It needed another chunk of tree to keep it burning and warming the house. I put on two medium sized logs. The house was quiet, so I curled up in the easy chair closet to the woodstove with my coffee and allowed my mind to bring me memories of my first year out here in the backwoods. 25 years living out here, how far I have come and I’m amazed at all that I have learned!
If God had chosen a place on earth to live, I serious believe he would have loved it here. His handy work is ever present with thick pine and hardwood forests and abundant animal population of all descriptions, rushing rivers and gushing waterfalls in all the right places. The first time you stand on the edge of a bluff and witness a summer sunset over lake Superior with an intoxicating warm pine scented breeze caressing your check, you will have been permanently embedded on your primal physic consciousness blessings of our ancient ancestors. I fell in love with this very hypnotic reality and have been addicted even sense.
On the flip side there is ‘Mother Nature’ who is less agreeable. She expects you to know your environment and will spank you hard if you don’t take your situation seriously. People have walked off the edge of a cliff by misjudging the beauty of this place and their own ability. A few years ago two sisters left their southern state homes and took a drive to the U.P. to see the sights in April. They drove out into the woods with nothing more than the coats on their backs and a bag of junk food. Confident in their driving skills, the pair drove to the northern most part of the forest on a wilderness back road ending up close to lake Superior in about 3 inches of snow. They stopped to take in the sights and promptly became stuck. Alone and no cell phone service they ended up out there for twenty-one days. The first night stranded in Michigan’s wilderness, it snowed hard and the car was pretty much buried. Long story shortened, they lived and managed to make it out but they were almost done for when they were finally discovered. They had no idea what to expect driving to a different climate, even in what they thought was spring. By the grace of God, their wind shield had reflected a momentary spot of sunshine and a rescue helicopter spotted something shiny. Most people aren’t so lucky. Authorities found a frozen man near a major river just yesterday. He too had wandered off to see the sights.
My first winter alone in my little tar paper cabin out here in the big woods, the jet stream took a right turn to the south. (I was a young 43 years old and fairly fit at the time. Tough as nails I thought.) Artic air dove down from Canada, blew across lake Superior and landed over Michigan’s U.P. at minus 50 degrees. Hell, that is mid winter Alaska temperatures! I went to bed at about 10:00 last night, put a few logs in the woodstove as usual but I didn’t wake up during the night to feed the wood burning beast. That fateful morning I woke up to 26 degrees in my one room cabin. It was so cold, the dogs’ water was frozen, I surmised that the woodstove must have gone out soon after I had gone to bed.
I put on a jacket and boots and went out to the outhouse. On my way back I stopped at the side porch to grab an arm load of wood. WHAT??!!! There was only 4 pieces of wood left. I had run out of heating wood, with no back up heating as I had no electricity and no indoor plumbing. Back inside the house I put on some warmer clothes, grabbed the hand saw and headed for the woods to find some wood to get me through the rest of the day and night.
I began trudging through three feet of snow feeling around in the snow for anything burnable. By now my heart is racing from the stress of the deep snow and cold. I couldn’t find enough wood to do much good, I was about to go into a full blown panic. I gave up and headed back to the house. I wanted to cry but I knew better at minus 50 degrees air temperature.
I struggled to get back to the house with a meager arm load of twigs, hardly enough to get me through the day. I fired up the camp stove to heat some water for another cup of warm coffee and to help clear the cold so I could contemplate my next move. How long could I stay out here in the wilderness without heat? Will they find my cold, dead body in the spring?
Mother nature spanked me good that day! I managed to get through that crisis thanks to a dear neighbor (we call people neighbors out here even when they are miles away instead of blocks away) who was able to get his snow machine up and running. He came to check on me and helped me to secure a load of split wood to get me by until I could find someone to sell me their extras. You can’t thank good neighbors enough.
This is one of the many near misses I experienced while living out here in the backwoods alone without modern stuff back in the early days. I am still here because I learned my lessons and have developed a great respect for what dearest mother nature has to dish out.
In all reality, for those who feel that bugging out to the woods when the SHTF, I’d like to warn you; life in the woods, without electricity and skills will not be easy and could kill you. Many won’t have the stomach for it, I don’t care how much you protest that you could do it. It is not the time to learn as you go. Most TV shows like those reality survival programs are scripted or pretested. Case-in-point–The history channel put on a series where they took a group of young healthy men and put them alone in the wilderness in the Pacific Northwest. Did you see it? They contacted me to audition, but given my age they declined may application. I figured, this little old lady would show up those little boys so they didn’t want to ruin their ratings. You know drama and pain sells. There were several episodes where I couldn’t believe these guys had to tap out. One kid decided to go home and give up the $50,000 prize money because he lost his fire starter and another young guy became sick and went home after drinking stream water, without filtering or boiling it first. But I digress. . .
There has been an influx of people to this area lately, people looking to get out of the city and maybe just a more peaceful existence. Whatever their reason, they are bringing with them huge outdoor mercury lights and paved roads and driveways. In other words, they are bringing modern stuff with them and not learning how to survive as our ancestors did. When the SHTF they will be just as dead as everyone else because they didn’t learn their lessons.
Moral of this story? You have prepared with food, water and other stuff and feel you can survive what a failed society will hand you. But I’m here to tell you, you are not! You need the wherewithal and skills to make it through to the other side. And just because you got stuff, it still may not be enough and will eventually run out, remember this; whatever you got, someone else wants and will take it! You need to fill your head with know-how, and teach your children. Hell, learn together and start them young, you will have past them survival skills as their legacy from you. Much more important than anything you could ever, ever give them. Start now!
Your very first step is to secure a hard copy library. How to books you can pass down to the next generations because who knows if their future will have electricity for their stuff.
Go out into the woods and do it! Or take a survival class. There are classes everywhere for urban and wilderness survival. I took a class set up by 4-H leaders. It was very intense to say the least. One of the things they did to us was blindfold each student, spin you around and lead you out into the forest. One at a time they took us out into the wilderness and left us their to stay the night and find our own way back the next morning. Hey, I love it. I would have liked to stay another night or two but, you know, duty calls.
Practice, practice, practice and then teach others. You learn as you teach. Repetition pays off.
What are your thoughts? Comment below.