Into the Wild: A Reflection on Surviving the Wilderness
When Christopher McCandless left civilization in 1992 for a life free from modern convenience, responsibilities, and expectations in the Alaskan wilderness, he did not mean to make it the last year of his life.
The reports of his death due to starvation has instigated people to reflect on surviving in the wilderness. What it would require and what they need to leave behind. We might think that we only need camping gear and several kits, but the circumstances of McCandless’s death says otherwise. Here are some things anyone could do differently from Alexander Supertramp, his chosen pseudonym.
Bring the Right Stuff
If you plan to go off into the wild for an extended period, you need to bring things that would help you keep warm, mentally stimulated, and find food. You should bring warm clothes, blankets, raincoat, boots, socks, matches, lighter fluid, hunting knives, cooking pots, first aid kits, parachute cord, rags, jerry cans of water, canned food, maps, and books including one on flora and fauna found in the area.
Know How to Set Up Camp
It’s not enough that you have a tent. You also need to know how to start a campfire and shelter to keep wild animals at bay. If you want to have a warm place to stay, you can dig into the earth and fill it with leaves before covering it with your blankets or sleeping bag.
You should also know how to build a shelter in case your tent is destroyed. You can use trees, logs, and branches for the framework, and use paracord and tarp to build a shelter.
Learn to Identify Poisonous Plants
It’s not enough to know which plants grow in the area. It’s also vital to understand which ones are edible and which ones are toxic. That was McCandless’s mistake, as he ate a species of wild potato pea that could be toxic when ingested by someone with a limited diet. He was subsisting on a meager diet of small rodents, birds, mushrooms, and berries, and adding the potato pea made it worse.
Be a Skilled Hunter
No one survives in the wild without understanding that hunting is essential to live. If you have a gun, you can hunt deer or wild game, but you should also know how to butcher and preserve the meat of these animals. If you prefer to use a trap, you should know how to build efficient traps that won’t waste your energy or time.
You should also know how to observe wild animals, as their actions could help you understand your environment. For example, following a trail of ants could lead you to a water source, even if it’s up a tree.
If you don’t have a gun or have run out of bullets, you should know how to make a throwing spear so you won’t have to rely on your traps to catch your prey.
Experiencing nature is part of what attracted McCandless to abandon civilization. Still, his story also tells us that if we do not understand nature and try to live in it by our own rules, it could be cruel and heartless.
Meta title: Surviving in the Wild: A Reflection of This Kind of Life
Meta description: Christopher McCandless abandoned civilization to live in the Alaskan wilderness, but he did not completely understand what was required to live off it.