Real Life Survival Success Stories

5 Ways to be the Luckiest Survivor in the World

by Todd Walker

With only the clothes on his back and a lighter in his pocket, William LaFever survived over three weeks in the Utah desert. His predicament was not part of some ‘reality’ TV show. There wasn’t a host describing the next reward challenge. No immunity necklace. No cameras or medics standing by.

 

Image source

He was lucky to be found alive.

This story is full of teachable moments. Here are some take-aways from LeFever’s brush with death.

1.) Recognize survival situations

Anytime your basic needs go unmet, you’re in a survival scenario – whether you admit it or not.

Seasoned woodsmen, survivalists, and preppers are familiar with the Rule of 3’s: 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. Unless you find a way to meet these needs, you’re likelihood of dying grows exponentially.

2.) Ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do you, punk?

Luck is Unreliable in Any Survival Situation

The question must be asked…

Image source

Dirty Harry’s classic line makes you re-think dependence on luck. With a 44 Magnum pointed at the perps head, he had to decide if Clint had fired 6 rounds, or only 5.

Don’t roll the dice with Mother Nature!

Your luck increases by applying the 7 P’s (Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance). It’s smart to leave a detailed itinerary with at least one or two trusted friends about your trip plans. Do it even if you’re taking a short day hike, fishing, hunting, or camping.

These safe mini-adventures land many outdoor enthusiast in trouble. Mother nature is not fair and she finds creative ways to toss the unexpected into the mix.

Your itinerary should include these three W’s as a bare minimum:

  • Where and when you’re headed out. Including a map of the trails and area would be useful in affecting a rescue if necessary.
  • When you plan on returning. Your family should know where you’re headed and when to expect your return. If your overnight excursion takes a turn for the worse, they will know you’re in trouble and begin the process of locating and rescuing you.
  • Who and how many are in your group. Are there any special needs in the group (age, special needs, health conditions, male/female, etc.). LeFever’s family described him as having autism. While that might seem trivial to most, it turned out to be very helpful in locating the lost hiker. All humans need water to survive but people with autism seem to be drawn to water. Search-and-rescue focused on following the river. It paid off.

3.) Know your limits

Before being lost, the son called his dad to ask for money.

LaFever said he had run out of money and someone had stolen some of his hiking gear. Authorities said they assumed he was given a ride to Boulder, as he did not have his own vehicle.

“He didn’t want me to come out there,” said LaFever’s father, John LaFever. “He wanted me to send him some money to get him to Page.”

The wise move after someone had stolen his gear and he had daddy on the phone would have been to accept the money and fly or ride home. His decision to go-it-alone with no gear almost cost him his life.

“He made the mistake ‘I know what I am doing and I will be OK,”’ Bronson told CNN. “There are many who have done that and paid the price.” [Emphasis mine]

Could you survive on your wits and a lighter? Forage wild foods? Everything is edible once.

4.) D0n’t leave home without a kit

William was found about 30 miles further along the river than most casual hikers traveled. Even though he had camping/hiking experience, this was not the time to attempt this long journey with nothing but his clothes on his back and a lighter in his pocket.

To his credit, he survived by foraging roots, eating frogs, and possessing one of the most important pieces of survival gear – FIRE.

It can happen to any of us outdoors. Taking a wrong turn or slipping on a root and tumbling down a ravine on a short day hike can turn into a serious situation – especially when you’re close to home.

The I’m-close-to-home mentality turns our preparedness mentality into mush. Spending the night in the woods unprepared can have dire consequences.

For short outdoor outings, a basic kit should include:

  • Water, filter, metal container
  • Fire making material and equipment
  • Cutting tool
  • First aid supplies
  • Cordage and duct tape
  • Signal mirror and whistle (your best chance of surviving is being found)
  • Snack/food
  • Shelter – tarp and/or contractor garbage bag
  • Security – sidearm and extra magazines/ammo

There’s no such thing as basic emergencies. Plan accordingly.

5.) Doing the Stuff makes you the luckiest Survivor out there

Knowledge, gear, and skills are survival aids. When your hands are wet and freezing in a 30 mph wind, that’s not the time to attempt your first friction fire. Have redundant backups.

Practicing your skills with your gear builds knowledge and confidence. Doing the Stuff closes the gap on sloppy skills making you the luckiest survivor in the world.

Do you feel lucky? Luck is unreliable.

What makes you the ‘luckiest’ survivor in the backcountry? Do tell!

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Real Life Survival Success Stories, Survival | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Chris Wark’s Top 10 Anti-Cancer Vegetables

Fighting Dirt Road Girl’s cancer over the last year has led us to some great and not so great advice. Here’s a great one: Chris Wark’s story of surviving cancer without conventional chemo treatments. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with cancer, prevention is so much better than going through the Big Pharma controlled Medical Industrial Complexes sick-care system.

How did he beat cancer?

Here’s a taste of his journey.

The Top 10 Anti-Cancer Vegetables

 

Photo by David Grunfeld

Photo by David Grunfeld

If you haven’t noticed, we are constantly bombarded with pleas from charities for cancer research money.

“Race for the Cure, Stand Up to Cancer, Buy Pink products, grow a Movember mustache….”

This is often accompanied by the message  that “we are running out of funding for cancer research”.  And of course this is a problem, because “without funding for more research, we will never find a cure”.

Cue the shots of bald women and children poisoned by chemo, accompanied by dramatic music. Then insert a high-profile celebrity to say, “The cure is just around the corner.
Together we can make cancer history. Please give today.”

Here’s the reality. The mega billion dollar pharmaceutical industry has plenty of money to fund research, they would just prefer that you fund it with your donations instead of theirs.

Real problem #1  They are running out of your money.

Real problem #2 They are only interested in medicines they can patent.

Real problem #3  Research on nutrition and natural therapies is ignored.

There are literally thousands of published peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that the 100,000+ phytonutrients in plants have the ability to prevent and reverse cancer.
But because the pharmaceutical industry can’t figure out how to extract these compounds, synthesize them, and patent them for profit, they are ignored.

Doctors can’t even use this published information or they risk losing their license.

But you can!

One of my favorite studies was published in Food Chemistry, January 2009 called,
“The antiproliferative and antioxidant activities of common vegetables: A comparative study”

The title is so boring I almost fell asleep typing it, but hold on, because the results are awesome.

Researchers studied the inhibitory (cancer-stopping) effects of 34 vegetable extracts
on 8 different tumor cell lines.

They basically just ran vegetables through a juicer and then dripped the extracted juice on different cancer cells to see what would happen. Here’s what they found…

The #1 most powerful anti-cancer food was Garlic.

Garlic stopped cancer growth COMPLETELY against these tumor cell lines:

Breast cancer, brain cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer,
childhood brain cancer, and stomach cancer.

Leeks were #1 against kidney cancer. Garlic was #2.

But not just garlic and leeks, almost all vegetables from the Allium and Cruciferous families completely stopped growth in the various cancers tested. Here they are:

Learn more here

 

Categories: Herbal Remedies, Real Food, Real Life Survival Success Stories | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Fruitcake Storage Season!

My friend Caroline Cooper, publisher at eatkamloops.org, offered this amazing recipe. Yes, there are lots of carbs that I normally avoid. But this is the season of special times and special eats. Plus, it’s not some plastic wrapped rectangle of unknown ingredients posing as fruitcake in a truck stop. Caroline’s recipe is made with organic ingredients. 
On special occasions like Christmas, I’ll eat a few cheat meals. This will be my nutrient dense dessert. It also makes a welcome addition to my emergency food storage. 
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Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

christmas fruitcake Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

This Christmas Fruitcake is very easy to make. The marzipan and orange peel glaze dresses up this traditional favorite. Fruitcake is a very dense food; a little goes a long way.

Christmas Fruitcake is easy to make and is safe for someone on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The fruitcake can be eaten right away or can be bathed in pear brandy for weeks or even months before consuming. Fruitcake is an excellent emergency or travel food. It can take the place of granola bars and is a good food for high energy activities during the cold winter months. A little goes a long way. Fruitcake can be stored for months in a cool, dry place. If you use pear brandy be very careful to find a producer that uses only fruit and does not add any sugar.

At this time of year, I would highly recommend the frugal householder to save all the peels from organic Mandarin oranges. This “waste product” can be transformed into a delicious addition to your baking that can be used for the rest of the year. The peels have a delicate, bitter flavor. Dry the peels with a dehydrator or use the peels fresh in baking. Also, try drying the waste peels from organic lemons and limes. If the peel is very thick try using a fine grater to get the outer portion of the lemon or lime.

Fruit Cake
1, 1/2c organic prunes, chopped
1, 1/2c organic raisins
2-4T quality pear brandy or 2tsp organic vanilla extract (optional)
1T organic butter, for greasing bread loaf pan
1c organic pecans, chopped
1c organic walnuts, chopped
1c organic almonds, chopped
1/2c local raw honey
3 pastured eggs
1c organic almonds, finely ground
1/2tsp sea salt, finely ground
1/2tsp organic whole allspice, finely ground
1/2tsp organic nutmeg, finely ground
1/2tsp organic cinnamon, finely ground
1 fresh organic Mandarin orange peel, finely minced (optional)

Chop up the prunes into small pieces. Put all the dried fruit and orange peels into a bowl and add the pear brandy or vanilla extract. If you have time, let the alcohol soak into the dried fruit overnight. Preheat the oven to 275C and heavily butter a glass bread loaf pan. Chop up the pecans, walnuts and almonds and add the nuts to the dried fruit. Mix the honey and eggs into the dried fruit and nuts. In a food processor, grind the almonds into a fine flour. Don’t grind too much or the almonds will become butter. Add the sea salt, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the almond mixture to the wet ingredients and mix very well. The batter will be very thick and it might be easier to use your hands for mixing. Work the batter into the bread loaf pan. With your hands, press firmly down on the batter until the cake is a flat brick without air pockets. Cook for 60-70 minutes. Let the cake cool completely before adding another 2T pear brandy on top of the fruitcake.

soak fruit brandy Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

If you have the time, soak the dried fruit and fresh orange peels in the pear brandy overnight.

mix wet ingredients Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

After mixing the nuts in with the dried fruit, add the honey and eggs. Mix very well. When you add the ground almonds use your hands for easier mixing.

ground almond flour Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

This is how ground you want the almonds before adding the spices. Don’t grind too much or you will have nut butter.

press firmly down Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

Make sure your bread loaf pan is very well buttered. The trick to a fruitcake that stays together is to press firmly down on the batter to remove any air spaces before cooking.

Raw Cashew Marzipan
1c organic cashews, ground into butter
1/4c organic macadamia nuts, ground into butter (optional)
1/4c local raw honey
1tsp organic vanilla extract or almond extract

With a food processor grind the nuts into butter. When the nuts start to form into a ball, add the honey and vanilla extract and mix well. Continue to mix and scape the sides of the food processor until all the ingredients form into a ball. The ball will be oily and can be put into the fridge until you are ready to roll out the marzipan and place it on top of the fruitcake. The marzipan should seal the fruitcake from the air.

marzipan ball 1 Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

Grind the cashews and macadamia nuts until they are processed into butter. It will form a ball in the food processor. Add the honey and extract. Mix well until you have a smooth, silky paste.

marzipan ball 2 Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

The marzipan will easily form a soft ball. Refrigerate before rolling out the marzipan.

Orange Peel Glaze
1 organic Mandarin orange, squeezed for juice (optional)
1 fresh organic Mandarin orange peel, very finely sliced
1/4c local raw honey
1T pear brandy (optional)

Take an organic Mandarin orange and squeeze out the juice. Save the peel. Please be sure to use an organic orange to avoid toxic chemicals. Cut the peel into long, very thin slices. Put the orange juice, sliced orange peels, pear brandy and honey in a 1c glass Pyrex cup. Bring some water to boil in a pan and gently heat the glaze in the Pyrex cup for about 10 minutes. When ready, the glaze will have a pleasant orange flavor. When the glaze is mostly cooled pour on the top of the marzipan and return the fruitcake to the fridge to cool. The fruitcake will keep for weeks in the fridge or can be eaten right away.

honey brandy peels Christmas Fruitcake, Raw Cashew Marzipan with Orange Peel Glaze

Simmer the honey, brandy, orange juice, and orange peels until the glaze picks up the delicate, bitter flavor of the peel.

When the fruitcake has completely cooled pour the brandy on the top. Roll out the marzipan and completely cover the top of the fruitcake. Pour the glaze on top of the marzipan and arrange the orange peels. Store in a cool place.

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If you like this, be sociable and share. 

Doing the stuff,

Todd

Categories: Real Life Survival Success Stories | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

“I know what I am doing and I will be OK!” Result: Over Three Weeks Lost in the Desert

Here’s a story that almost turned into recovery instead of rescue. Sent in by Steve after my request for Real Life Survival Success Stories. This definitely meets the criteria for a survival story. After reading the article, prepping vs. survival comes to mind. Read the entire article below my comments.

I have never been in this situation. This story offers many “what were you thinking” moments. So I’ll proceed with my analysis from the comfort of my keyboard. Hopefully shedding some light on the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” to keep you found and not lost for three weeks.

Main lessons to take from Mr. LaFever’s ordeal:

1.) Always leave a detailed itinerary with at least one or two trusted friends about your plans for your trip. Even on “short” day hikes. These are trips that get so many outdoor enthusiast in trouble.

I’m guilty of this recently. Dirt Road Girl and I road bikes on a long stretch of beach and trough some trails on vacation. On the deserted beach, the sky turned gray and threatening. We took the first chance to exit and get back to the main bike path. I had my survival kit in my fanny pack. In my haste and stupidity, I’d forgotten to pack any rain ponchos or garbage bags to protect from exposure. I wanted to pack “light” and I was on vacation…and so was my preparedness mindset.

The heavens opened and began to dump horizontal rain three miles from shelter. My main worry was not for me, but for DRG. Her strength was okay even on the cancer drugs and she wanted to ride bikes. Being exposed to the rain and wind for three miles was only going drain her batteries. Riding on an island with relatively flat terrain turned into a potentially dangerous situation considering our circumstances. Regulating exposure (hypothermia and hyperthermia) is the key to surviving emergency situations. Something I had failed to prepare for. Fortunately, we got our soaking, chilled bodies back with only a few shivers from DRG. Prolonged exposure could have turned out to be a very different outcome.

This was a little more than a day hike for our pilgrim…and he was alone. Fortunately, his dad knew the general location of his son and was able to relay that to the rescue team.

Your plan should include at least these three W’s:

  • Where and when you’re headed out. Including a map of the trails and area would be very useful in affecting a rescue if necessary.
  • When you plan on returning. Not much good if your family knows where you are if they don’t know when to expect your return. If they think you are camping for a week, when you really only planned on being gone two days, the extra five days could leave you bloated and dead in the wilderness.
  • Who and how many are in your group. Are there any special needs in the group (age, special needs, health conditions, male/female, etc.). If rescuers are tracking you or your group, this info would be very valuable.

2.) Swallow your pride and live to try again. At one point, the son called his dad to say to ask for money.

LaFever said he had run out of money and someone had stolen some of his hiking gear. Authorities said they assumed he was given a ride to Boulder, as he did not have his own vehicle.

“He didn’t want me to come out there,” said LaFever’s father, John LaFever. “He wanted me to send him some money to get him to Page.”

The wise move after someone had stolen his gear and he had daddy on the phone would have been to accept the money and fly or ride home. His decision to go-it-alone almost cost him his life.

“He made the mistake ‘I know what I am doing and I will be OK,”’ Bronson told CNN. “There are many who have done that and paid the price.”

3.) Practice with a safety net. William was found about 30 miles further along the river than most casual hikers traveled. Even though he had camping/hiking experience, this was not the time to attempt this long journey with nothing but his clothes on his back and a lighter in his pocket. To his credit, he survived by foraging and possessing one of the two most important pieces of survival gear – FIRE. Even without the other item (knife), fire helped keep him alive.

Even if you are not a smoker, it is always essential to keep a fire starting device in your everyday carry stuff.

4.) The devil is in the details. One of the factors that helped lead rescuers to him was knowing details about his particular condition. Referring back to the “Who” in my first point, family members described him as having autism. While that might seem trivial to most, it turned out to be very helpful in locating the lost hiker. Autism sufferers seem to be drawn to water. Armed with that knowledge, searchers focused on following the river. It paid off. LeFevor had not strayed from the watery path he was following.

Here’s the real life story of LeFevor’s brush with room temperature. Learn from his mistakes and stay alive!

Doing the stuff,

SS

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Utah rescuers find emaciated hiker after month long ordeal

By Phil Gast, CNN
updated 5:54 PM EDT, Sat July 14, 2012
Watch this video

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Man survives more than three weeks in remote Utah desert
  • Helicopter pilot, deputy rescued him in river gulch
  • Hiker had eaten roots, frogs to stay alive
  • According to family, survivor has autism

(CNN) — Too weak to stand or walk, William M. LaFever sat in a shallow river bed in the south Utah desert, awaiting rescue that came more than a month after his family last heard from him.

Thursday afternoon, a helicopter flying in the Escalante River gorge spied the bearded LaFever, 28, who had lost 50 pounds and eaten frogs and roots in his desperate effort to stay alive during his walk from a Utah city to Page, Arizona.

“We came around the corner and we were pretty amazed to see him alive and sitting up,” Shane Oldfield, a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter pilot assisting the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN Friday.

LaFever was hospitalized Friday in St. George, Utah, in stable condition. Family members told a deputy that he has autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder, said Becki Bronson, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

Rescued man saves would-be rescuer

The Colorado Springs, Colorado, man’s incredible odyssey began when he called his father on June 6 or 7 to tell him he was in Boulder, Utah, hiking with his dog, according to the sheriff’s office.

Rescued hiker: I messed up

LaFever said he had run out of money and someone had stolen some of his hiking gear. Authorities said they assumed he was given a ride to Boulder, as he did not have his own vehicle.

“He didn’t want me to come out there,” said LaFever’s father, John LaFever. “He wanted me to send him some money to get him to Page.”

The elder LaFever said he wasn’t sure how William would make it all the way to Page, but his son mentioned following the river.

Within a week of his call home, William got a ride to where Highway 12 crosses the river, and set out on his journey.

The younger LaFever apparently did not know the extent of the rigors he would face when he planned to walk nearly 50 miles in the Escalante Desert to Lake Powell and then obtain a boat ride, officials said.

Eventually, LaFever’s food and strength ran out as he continued walking, according to authorities, and his dog ran off. Officials were looking into a report that the animal may have been located, Bronson told CNN.

With her brother long overdue, LaFever’s sister called authorities Monday, seeking help and providing information on where he might be.

Garfield County Deputy Ray Gardner accompanied Oldfield on the flight and told him he had learned in recent training that people with autism often are drawn to water.

Oldfield said the hiker had apparently followed the river as he walked south and had been in the location where they found him for several days, sapped of almost all his strength. LaFever was only a few miles away from Lake Powell.

Hikers rescued in Utah canyon

“I think he probably hiked as far as he could until he was physically exhausted and he went into survival mode,” the pilot said.

LaFever had no compass and had discarded or lost his hiking gear.

All he had were his pants, shoes, underwear, shirt and a lighter.

He used the lighter to set a small fire at night, officials said, and then would roll into the river to stay cool and drink water.

LaFever weakly waved when Gardner and Oldfield spotted him from the air.

After their landing, the pair approached the emaciated man, not certain of his identity. Initially, LaFever did not want to get into the helicopter.

“He was asking us for food but it was not like he was shoveling it down. He was casually eating a granola bar as he was talking to the deputy,” said Oldfield.

In a statement, Gardner said he had not been expecting a good outcome.

“We had no idea if William had stayed along the river, or decided to leave, or got a ride with someone, or was lost somewhere other than along the river,” he said. “We flew along it without any expectation of finding anything at all. The conditions would have to be just right too; unless he was out in the open there was no way we would be able to find him.”

Gardner, praised by LaFever’s family for his work on the case, did not immediately return a message left Friday by CNN.

William LaFever was in an area popular with hikers, but was about 30 miles beyond where most venture, Oldfield said.

“He made the mistake ‘I know what I am doing and I will be OK,”’ Bronson told CNN. “There are many who have done that and paid the price.”

John LaFever said his son “has done a lot of camping but he has always been close enough to where he could walk to people and get a grocery store. It has never been at this capacity.”

William LaFever, who is on disability, will be hospitalized indefinitely as he regains his strength.

“I am just overwhelmed,” said his father. “I was really hoping he was alive. The chances of him being found alive were one in a million, maybe.”

Categories: Preparedness, Real Life Survival Success Stories, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Announcing Real Life Survival Success Stories

Prepping, back-to-basics, preparedness, self-reliance, sustainability, DIY, homesteading, off-grid-living; whatever the label, the message is being received by thousands of real-life, everyday people from all walks of life.

I’m constantly amazed, motivated, and inspired by stories of people waking up and taking control of their future. Like a before and after picture of a fitness/exercise program showing progress, only these stories will be related to prepping. Real people transforming their mind, body, spirit, actions, and attitude to achieve their goals.

If you’d like to share your story with me of how you’re taking preparedness into your own hands, please drop me a line via email (SurvivalSherpa at gmail dot com), comment on my blog, or on Twitter (@SurvivalSherpa). I’ll publicize the story here and share it on my Twitter account to encourage other like-minded individuals in the prepping community.

OPSEC is observed here. Your personal information will not be shared or distributed in any way. Keep in mind that identifying photos in your posts will not be posted here unless permission from the contributor is expressly given.

Depending on the response, Real Life Survival Success Stories will be published once per week. I’ll keep publishing them as long as they keep coming.

Doing the stuff,

Survival Sherpa

Categories: Real Life Survival Success Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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