I’ve been spending more and more time outdoors, as I find I like being around lots of people less and less.
Breaking down to the basics and just focusing on surviving. No stressors, no drama. Just survival. The more I learn, the less equipment I feel the need to take with me. My army buddy Mike and I took a trip out to a local island on the river for some practical application of our survival skills.
We built a shelter, worked on some water purification techniques and setup a fire pit. As it got dark Mike had to leave. I swam back across the river with him to pack up some gear, then I swam back out to the island as the sun began to set. I had slightly miscalculated how fast it was getting dark, and I was soaked. I had to travel slowly as the shore of the island was overrun by blackberries which have very sharp thorns. By the time I reached the shelter location I had a slight shiver, and fire became a priority.
Wet clothes are worse than no clothes. I was all by myself, so I stripped down and figured I’d have the rest of the experience naked. I got out my ferro rod and knife and began to make a fire. I practice this technique fairly regularly so I was confident I could get a fire going without any trouble.
After a few minutes I had a roaring blaze in front of me, and I warmed back up.
Once I was settled I gave the lady I was dating at the time a call there from my island shelter.
“I’m out in my shelter on this island on the river. I got soaked swimming here so I’m just gonna be naked the rest of the time.”
“You’re an idiot,” she replied.
I’d been thinking about showcasing my skills on the Discovery Channel show Naked and Afraid, and figured this would be a good trial run. Being naked in the wilderness definitely adds a whole new dynamic to the survival game. I wouldn’t be walking haphazardly through any blackberry bushes in the nude. I do some crazy stuff, but a bleeding scrotum isn’t my idea of a good time.
I was able to avoid hypothermia by sleeping next to the fire, however I woke up several times throughout the night to flip from facing the fire to having my back toward the fire to warm up. I had attempted to make a reflecting wall that would radiate some of the heat from the fire back towards me, but that didn’t work so well. As I flipped back and forth through the night to stay warm, I began to lose my bearings on where the fire was relative to my body. Very vividly I remember being half asleep as I went to roll myself away from the fire only to find that i was rolling directly into the flames. My adrenaline shot through the roof as I did the most unathletic naked combat roll known to man, narrowly missing an event that would have surely resulted in a trip to the ER. However there would be no roasted hot dog on this camping trip.
Once my body calmed down I was able to get a little more sleep, but at this point I was just looking forward to daylight so that I could modify my shelter and build myself more tools for subsequent nights.
In the morning I build a net from some branches and the inner strands of some 550 cord (paracord). I also fashioned a tennis racquet like stick for cooking some bacon I had brought along. While I like to challenge myself and practice skills, the idea is for it to be fun, so having snacks is always welcome.
Once I’d had an opportunity to practice a few more skills. I cleaned up my campsite, through my swim shorts back on and swam back to civilization.