Submitted May 19, 2009

That whole thing about going 45+ days without food is BS

A few years back I got sick, really sick. I didn't know how bad things were gonna get and how much it would change my life. After several years of treatment I got better. Now I am back to normal. Every year I take a week off work and go to a park or state land, usually on the Appalachian Trail to go on a minimal equipment hike. I only bring 2 MREs for food and a few orange tic-tacs for the occasional flavor luxury. I eat a good breakfast before I head out and one MRE per day for the first two days. After that, I have to go attain my own food or without. I keep a couple 3/4 in sewing bobbins in my kit one with 40ft of 12lb fishing line and the other with 20ft of 24g copper wire(for binding stuff). Anyway, I decided to go to the Smokey Mtns and try a new part of the country. On the third day I got hit by a nasty storm. I checked the weather and kinda knew it was coming but the whole point of my annual trip is to go because I CAN and that's important to me. I set up my tarp and decided to wait it out. It was supposed to rain on Wed and into Thurs morning. It rained until Sat afternoon. I was several days behind schedule and needed to pick up the pace to make up some time. I hadn't eaten my second MRE because I wasn't doing anything but sitting on my but, so I ate it on Sat and headed out. By Sun night I was REALLY hungry. I didn't see anyone after the rain (everyone else probably had better sense than me) or I would have tried to buy/traded for some food. I started to realize something about going W/out food in a survival situation (I was not "surviving, if I had sat on my but for a couple more days someone would have come by I'm sure). I realized that what your taught in the military(I served two terms in the army) is a lot easier said than done. That whole thing about going 45+days without food is BS in my opinion because in a real survival situation you need the energy to continually collect wood to keep a fire going if it is very cold or if you need to purify water. If your going to self rescue then the need for energy becomes even more important, not to mention that even if your body can live for that long how "functional" do you think you will be? After a few days W/out food and trying to make up time, I couldn't think strait and I was so mentally exhausted that I wasn't making good decisions about when to rest, break for the night, etc. I was completely on auto pilot. I ended up setting my tarp on Mon and was so weak that I could barely tie the knots, and it was even hard to remember them. Mon evening and some people came by and I traded a wetterling axe for half a dozen power bars and a small bag of granola, which at that point was a necessity if I was going to be moving any distance in the morning. I realized that the distance I was traveling each day was decreasing by about a third every day I didn't eat. I was never in any real life threatening situation because, like I said, someone would be along eventually, but I figured that if I was in a bad situation and NOONE would be coming I would be in a lot of trouble if I had to self-rescue for a great distance couldn't get some food along the way. I lost 16lbs in 10days and I know it could have been a lot worse. I have since then been working very hard on skills more bushcraft oriented than traditional survival (military)training. On my last trip I got a storm as well, but it was summer and not cold so I didn't mind much. I took the time to set some traps and after three fig4s and 1 paiute sitting for a day and a half I finally caught a squirrel. I was not doing anything but sitting under my tarp and taking a leisurely walk around my traps in the evening, very little energy wasted. I didn't need the squirrel but I did want to practice my fig4 and paiute deadfalls. I was pleased to know that if I ever did need it the skills are there. P.S. early this spring I made my first WET-WEATHER friction fire. It was a lot of work and took several hours before I was even ready to start but again, its comforting to know I can if I ever do need to.


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