Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I have never been a big fan of watching TV or even going to watch a movie whether at home or at the theater. I have probably watched less than 5 whole movies in my life but about 20 minutes of about 500 others. I have always felt like there was a whole lot more interesting things in life for me to do then to sit some place and watch TV or a movie of any kind. In fact I would rather pull weeds in my garden then have to watch TV unless the Green Bay Packers or Wisconsin Badgers are playing football. I chalk that up to being part of my Wisconsin heritage. Other then that I really wouldn’t care if I even had a TV. In fact at my home in the summer unless it is really nasty weather I don’t even allow the TV to be on.

On the other hand I will not put down any of my fellow Alaskans who prefer this type of entertainment just because I do not. Yes at times when I have my boat loaded up heading to the lake or river on a bright sunny day I see the movie theater jammed full of cars and I find it hard to understand. And yes secretly I would like to march right in there and say ok couch potatoes put down the buttered popcorn and soda and head on over to my potato patch and start pulling them weeds. When you get that done you can go clean the chicken coup out and put more straw in the nest boxes after you gather the eggs.

Alaska is an outdoors type of person’s paradise, a place full of outdoor adventures and a place where even the most inexperienced can go and yet places that will challenge and test even the best of the mountain men living today. The whole key to surviving the Alaska wilderness is preparing for the unexpected at all times and do not put yourself in a situation that is both beyond your ability and experience. Know your limitations before you even plan the trip and understand where your previous experience ties in with what you plan to do on this new adventure.

If you have never taken a trip that pretty well guarantees you will be in the wilderness for a week to ten days and you have never done this before it might be best to take some one more experienced with you. Make a list of everything you need and have an experienced person check over your list before you go.

Could you survive a foot of snow falling on your tent? How long will your food supply last? Are you able to survive severe cold weather for a week? Are you healthy enough to be there in the first place? Can you cook a good meal over an open fire if you had to? Do you know enough to rake a few coals aside to cook on to help control the heat so you don’t burn your food? Do you eat your dried food in camp because it is convenient and fast instead of saving them for your trek into the mountains or an emergency? Have you a good dependable water filter? (My advice is if your going to buy a water filter buy a good one not a cheap one that you fill and then squirt back out again.)

No matter how hard you try and visualize what your outdoor trip will be like you will probably forget something or encounter something you were not prepared for. Being able to handle these situations whether you were prepared for them or not will probably be the difference in whether you having a successful trip or not.

This past weekend The Anchorage Daily News ran a story on Chris McCandless the young inexperienced guy who gave away everything he had and hiked back into the wilderness of Alaska and eventually starved to death. Chris had a book written about his ill-fated attempt at living in the wilderness of Alaska and even a movie about him that was put together by Sean Penn.

I personally was unimpressed by the book or the few parts of the movie that I saw. What I gathered from all this was a very incompetent disturbed person who starved to death in the wilderness of Alaska. Chris McCandless remains weighed 67 lb. when a moose hunter eventually found his body that was near a stream full of grayling. Chris was not equipped mentally or physically to attempt to do what he was trying to do.

He shot a small moose but it spoiled before he could get it taken care of partially because he did not have the experience, know how or equipment needed to handle processing an animal of that size. Simply just packing in a ten lb. bag of rice and thinking your going to live in the wilderness of Alaska just does not make good sense and pretty well guarantees most people would fail.

I do a lot of reading but prefer reading about people who were successful in the wilderness. Books like The Final Frontiersman, Shadows on the Koyukuk, or The Andrew Berg story are some of my favorites. These books are about true survivors of the Alaskan wilderness not some guy who became famous for starving to death.

If you’re in the same boat as Chris McCandless and not equipped to march out in the wilderness any more prepared then this young man was, then perhaps your better off going to the movies or at the very least watching the Packers on TV. If the latter is your choice, give me a call! See you next week!

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