The recent rescue of a 13-year-old Utah Boy Scout, lost for nearly two days in the Wyoming wilderness, comes as a relief. Not everyone who ventures into the woods comes out again.
Garrett Hunter told rescuers that he had eaten ants and tree bark to conserve what little food he was carrying. That puts him at 10 times smarter than I was at that age.
If I had been lost at age 13, I would have eaten all my food within the first five minutes. Hysterics require a lot of calories.
I also would have guzzled all of my water immediately. From experience, I know that nothing empties a person’s bladder — and hurries the onset of dehydration — quite like terror.
This is something everyone should think about. How long could you survive if you were suddenly plunked down in the middle of nowhere with just what you have on right now?
Note: We’ll excuse all those who are reading this on the john, in the tub or otherwise attending to personal needs.
OK, here we go. As I write this, I’m wearing underwear, a shirt, slacks, socks and shoes. I have a belt, a pen, half a pack of gum, car keys, two knives, $23 in cash, assorted credit cards, an allergy pill, a 9 mm cartridge, a 10 mg Lortab and a terse note from Peggy Fletcher Stack asking me not to turn the volume all the way up when listening to Joe Bonamassa in the office.
OK, off we go. Poof!
Nothing around me now but a lowering sun, cool air, birds chirping, dark woods and lots of rocks. I’m in the wilderness with just the aforementioned to my name. Will I be able to last until rescued?
Probably not. In addition to the unforgiving environment, I’m also up against a set of bad knees, a mind that wanders even during emergencies and a pretty good idea that no one will bother to report me missing.
First thing I’d do is pop the Lortab and the allergy pill. If I’m going to die, I want it to hurt as little as possible, and I don’t want to be congested. Then I’d flop down and wait for fate.
This is actually a sound plan. Outdoor experts say a lost person should remain in one place.
Maybe, but I say how do people know they’re actually lost unless they spend days and the last bit of energy they have investigating the possibility?
The brutal facts are that you won’t know what to do unless you’re prepared for the eventuality. Garrett Hunter was mentally prepared. He started off eating bugs right away. He stayed in one place. He didn’t panic. Also, a bear didn’t eat him.
More than anything else: Don’t freak out. Save your energy. Keep your wits about you. That’s probably why I wouldn’t make it. I only have half a wit, and I’d almost certainly use it to make things worse.
Be careful out there, people. I know it’s hard, but let’s at least try to make it to the deer hunt without losing anyone else.