Let's Play WFF Survivor!!

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by chadk, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. greyghost

    greyghost Member

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    Bear Grylls is great except when he thought a Grizzly was outside of his shelter during the night in the Canadian Rockies and decided to go running through the forest....bad move.

    Good topic Chad. If I were George, I would be strapping on that PFD and swimming across the river to Fred. If not, he won't make it more than a few hours unless of course he has mad skills and can start a fire drill style with some sticks. Once he gets across they should start a massive fire and strip off their wet clothing. Build a small shelter to protect from the elements. In the morning they should assess Fred's injuries and decide if walking out is an option. If so, judging by the rivers terrain it sounds like walking up or downstream might be tough because of steep canyon walls. Walking uphill will eventually hit the road that parallels the river, they know this because they drove in that way. If they get turned around or it becomes too difficult they can walk straight back down towrads the river where they know people will eventually be looking for them. If walking out is not an option they can keep a fire burning and stay busy by gathering food, water, wood and more materials for a shelter. If they can stay dry and hydrated they can surely make it two more days before their concerned and diligent wives send help.

    Pete
     
  2. otter

    otter Banned or Parked

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    Ok. Triage thinking.

    Fred is physically screwed up but has the gear.

    George is physically ok but doesn't have gear.

    The boats are gone. Don't even go there.

    The wives know, and two days from now will be screaming the alarm.

    So, George, take off all your clothes and wring them out as best you can. Empty out waders, and put them on again. Layers are good. Stack up as much duff as you can for your mattress, and then tear off a number of small evergreen branches, preferably cedar, for your blanket. Heap up as much duff over you as you can (the dry stuff from right around the bases of the trees) before you pull your cedar branch sleeping bag over you for the night. While you are doing this your body heat will be drying you out. You're gonna have a cold miserable sonovabitch of a night, but you'll survive.

    Holler at Fred across the river that you'll both go downriver in visual contact tomorrow morning until you find a crossing. Then you, George, will get wet again, because you will be doing the crossing. Remember, Fred is beat up, plus you can't afford to lose the survival gear - what little of it there is - if Fred loses it and gets pulled down the river.

    Fred -

    Get organized, warm & dry. Evaluate your injuries. Build a fire and a bed similar to George. Figure out how fast - or slow - you can travel and holler it out to George.

    The next morning. This would be day two. Travel downriver (less energy toll). Find the crossing. Once you find the crossing, Fred, build a bigass fire. Then George crosses over and dries out. You're both hungry but a long ways from tipping over from lack of food. Hydration is way more important. Build another duff/branch bed, but this ones a twin, with the survival blanket over it. Combine your body heat. Now, if you are lucky on day two, there will be other boats driftiing the river, and they will pick you up and get you home.


    Day three. If no boats the previous day,
    find an open gravel bar on the river. Build a bigass fire. Fish if you can, with the tippets, flies & stuff. Wait for boats, or the choppers.

    Day four. Same as above.

    Worst case: if it is weathered over (i.e., chopper's ain't flying, boat's ain't drifting), then you will have to make your best guess for the road and try to make your way there. Leave a note, if possible, at your site on the gravel bar.


    Good luck,


    otter
     
  3. ceviche

    ceviche Active Member

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    I don't know... George is wearing a PFD, so he can use it to his benefit. He has the choice of freezing to death on the wrong side of the river or jump back in, backstroking his way to the otherside. The buoyancy of that PFD should not be underestimated! Using it, while floating on his back, he will be able to maneuver quite well--probably enough to dodge many a rock and even enough to make it across the river. Think about it: It was clearly what allowed him to make it to shore in better shape than Fred. If he estimates that it will take him twice as long to reach the opposite shore as a drift boat, then he should look for a stretch of water that will put him in good position for that. How about a bend in the river sharing an outside bank with Fred?

    Eitherway, both of George's options place his life in risk. He should head upriver and give it his best, knowing that the flow will bring his efforts closer to his friend. Fred, meanwhile, can build a fire, getting things ready so George will be able to warm himself when he arrives. This is good for Fred, as he has all the survival gear and is on the side of the river with the road. He has the highest chance of making it through the night alone. Not so with George. The only thing he has going for himself is his PFD. That's it. And it's the one thing that will allow him to hook back up with Fred--who needs George's legs to find help. What other options are there? They definitely need each other.
     
  4. Zane Wyll

    Zane Wyll Member

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    great thread chad. sure makes a guy think about how to pepare himself for an outing. I think if I'm george the first thing Im doing is prying then I am doing what I have to to get across that river and to my buddy who is gonna need my help to gather fire wood and build a fire anyway if he is injured. I would go up stream not down because if the river did get contol for a while if I'm down stream I have even further to walk also I know the water above the rapids because I have alredy fished it today hopefully Im not so old that my memory is shot and I can remember the best closest place to cross. Then its get to my partner and build a fire and a make shift shelter. one day at a time.
     
  5. Zane Wyll

    Zane Wyll Member

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    great thread chad. sure makes a guy think about how to pepare himself for an outing. I think if I'm george the first thing Im doing is praying then I am doing what I have to to get across that river and to my buddy who is gonna need my help to gather fire wood and build a fire anyway if he is injured. I would go up stream not down because if the river did get contol for a while if I'm down stream I have even further to walk also I know the water above the rapids because I have alredy fished it today hopefully Im not so old that my memory is shot and I can remember the best closest place to cross. Then its get to my partner and build a fire and a make shift shelter. one day at a time.
     
  6. Stan Wright

    Stan Wright Member

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    I agree with SuperDave. Get dry, shelter, and stay put. I have a "pocket sruvival kit".... and my Boy Scout "Outdoor Essentials".... pocketknife, first aid kit, extra clothes, rain gear, water bottle, flashlight, trail food, matches & fire starters, sun block, map & compass. On my first Alaska fly out trip the guide and I got stranded on the river when the weather turned bad and the float plane couldn't pick us up. Thank goodness we weren't soaking wet like Fred & George. You never know when you might end up "camping out". The guide and I were prepared because we were thinking "what if?"

    Aloha,
    Stan
     
  7. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Good points. But the trick is getting them back together... Before George freezes to death... (hypothermia really)
     
  8. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Nicely done.
     
  9. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Again, nicely done. I'll update you on their first night and see how close you come :)
     
  10. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Right. Tough call on heading down for the hope of finding the gear vs heading up for a safer\closer crossing...
     
  11. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Sounds like a good plan to me.
     
  12. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Right on. And that is what this post is all about. Force us to think NOW about "what if?", instead of when the time of need comes. A little planning up front may make a situation just a mere inconveniance (sp) where the lack of planning quickly becomes life and death.
     
  13. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Part 2: Survival Mode

    Fred and George triage the situation and shout out their plan to each other.

    Fred is tasked with getting a fire going and working on a shelter. He can hobble around OK.

    George realizes he will quickly start feeling the first stages of hypothermia soon and knows he has to act quickly. He is shivering and scared. But right now he is in 'survival mode' and acts quickly. He plans to head downstream looking for the gear. He allows himself 15 minutes to cover as much ground as possible. After that he has to focus on getting across no matter what. Knowing Fred will have a blazing fire by the time he gets there keeps him extra motivated and much less afraid.

    George starts working his way through the thick brush. The salmon berry bushes are pretty thick and the rocks and logs help keep his pace slow. Looking up the bank all George sees is the rugged walls of the canyon.

    Fred begins by selecting a sheltered area that offers protection from the wind and is covered somewhat naturally from the rain by large overhanging branches from a mix of cedars and firs. He heads to an old log jam near the river and begins collecting the aged branches and smaller logs. They are damp, but should be able to be dried out pretty quickly. After he has a good sized pile, he then begins looking for tinder and kindling. He looks in sheltered areas for dry grass, twigs, fir boughs, etc. It takes some work finding the bone dry stuff, but he manages. He knows he has to have enough of the small stuff or it will burn out too fast - before the bigger stuff has a chance to dry a little and begin to burn. Start small and feed and feed - taking your time.

    George has made his way down and with the slower pace he covered about a 1/4 mile is just over 20 minutes or so he estimates. He realizes his window of time to cross has come and he starts scanning the water for the best path. As he takes a few steps into the frigid water, he spots something about 100yrds downstream. It looks like one of the boats. He's excited and backs back out of the water. Then his heart sinks. The bank disappears into a rock ledge about 1/2 way down. No way over and the water is deep and fast below. He figures he may have a chance to scale it.

    Fred finally has what he thinks is enough kindling, sticks, and logs. He is ready and eager to build a fire knowing his body temperature is quickly dropping. Once the fire is going, he'll start working on the shelter. As he opens his match container, he notices the light rain coming down is turning into sleet and coming down harder by the minute.

    George is doing his best to scale the wet and slippery wall. There are plenty of hand and foot holds, but he's losing the feeling in his hands and feet. Adrenaline is keeping him going and he's only got 30 feet to go before he reaches 'flat' ground again.

    Fred strikes the first match and it sputters and smokes but quickly dies. The next does the same. The next offers a nice flame, but as he puts it near the tinder is sputters out as well. He realizes his matches are probably 20 years old and have not been used in over 5 years. He has about 5 matches left.

    George is almost there. Another 50 yards and he'll be at the boat or whatever it is. His pace quickens. With the end in sight, he gets careless and grabs a hanging root instead of a more secure rock hold. He leans back to get around an outcropped rock and as he reaches for the next hand hold, the root snaps. He's already leaning back and his reflexes and balance are off from the early hypothermia setting in. He's once again headlong in the river...

    Fred's on his last match. He stares at it as he feels the fear and desperation building in the back of his throat. His heart is pounding fast. He's really hoping George shows up any second. He hesitates, then strikes it...

    The sleet is now full blown snow. It is really coming down and the wind is really kicking in. Twilight yields to darkness. And as only can be experienced in the deep wilderness, darkness is swallowed by blackness.

    Fred's last match flickers in his icy numb finger tips and fades with only a tiny puff of smoke. His heart sinks and now he is in full blown survival mode. He begins to focus on the shelter, scrambling to build lean-to structure that will keep the snow off. He builds up the bottom with dry leaves, boughs, and any other softer dry material he can find. His kindling and tinder at least find some use as bedding... He covers his soaking wet body with the little mylar blanket and curls up in the make-shift shelter - shaking, shivering, scared, and worrying more and more about George finding him.

    ***************

    Day 2 begins tomorrow.
     
  14. God this is fun.
    Frank.
    I think Fred needs to make it through the night and get to the truck in the morning. I will assume our friend George is dead. Get to the truck Fred. Get the car started, even if you have to hot wire it. And get the heater going, call for help, or go to the approximate mile post where you think George is, if you think he is still alive and hike in and get him. But call for back up, let people know, there is trouble.
     
  15. otter

    otter Banned or Parked

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    OK. Darkness and snow are falling, Fred has no fire and George is in river again.

    George is in deep shit. He's got a dilemmna, but being hypothermic he's probably in no shape to think about it. He was headed for the maybe raft because he thought it was on his side of the river. He'll be trying to get out of the river on his side, and if he manages to do that, he can go see if he can find the maybe raft. Remember that any gear in the raft has fallen out and gone downriver - the best the raft might do is get George across the river. If the raft isn't, then George needs to wring out clothes, empty out waders and build bed. But he's in a lot worse shape than he was an hour ago.

    The other side of George's dilemna is the other side of the river. As long as he's in the water again, he's got a choice to just get to the other side of the river any way he can and build bed. If Fred comes looking for George, he'll find him on Fred's side of the river.

    Both choices are very dicey.

    As for Fred, all he can do is settle down for the night with what he has, and try to stay as warm as he can.

    Fred plans to head downriver tomorrow as far as he is physically able, to try to find a trace of George. He considers his choice of trying to cut through the woods to the road (no way can he make the car), and decides to stay on the riverbank. That is where people will be looking for him, because that's where he said he would be. And the searchers will be focused on any sign on the river. Percentagewise, even though the odds are shitty, that's his best bet.

    otter
     
  16. ceviche

    ceviche Active Member

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    None of these events are surprising me. Dumb-@ssed George should have started out by going upstream. Stoke heat by first working the upstream they already drifted. Then George commits himself to drifting downstream toward Fred. What's downstream below Fred is obviously unknown: They clearly had no idea what they were doing when they started going downstream, besides. Why risk too much of the same-old, downward-spiraling unknown? Calculated risk is all they really have, right?

    I'm losing interest...
     
  17. otter

    otter Banned or Parked

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    Ceviche -

    "This is an annual trip for them. They are very familiar with the area and the details of the float."

    From Chad's opener.......... energy use, upstream or downstream, given the difficulty of the terrain, will be about the same. Your point about upstream is good, except the gear is downstream. So we're back to George's "the lady or the tiger" choice, again.


    otter
     
  18. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Ceviche, I understand you frustration or lack of 'buying it'. Reminds me of the last few 'lost in the woods' events we've had in the news recently. When you hear the details, you just shake your head and say "what were they thinking!". If they (Fred and George) made all the 'perfect' choices, we would have even less of an interesting discussion I think. And again, the point of this is to get us thinking about what we would do in such a situation and what we can do proactively before we ever get in such a pinch.
     
  19. otter

    otter Banned or Parked

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    This is what the S&R folks do on every search. Note that I do not say rescue. They "game it", which is to say try to figure out which way your head was going, and then your body.

    I think Chad's point is that you should "game" your options before you set foot in the river. It might keep you alive.

    Personally, I that this is a great wakeup exercise, especially having seen the conditions of the OP rivers over the last weekend.


    otter
     
  20. Snake

    Snake tryin' not to get too comfortable

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    Fred should have lit his candle first, and used it to light his tinder, instead of messing around with trying to find (and unsuccessfully light) scavenged tinder.
    All of this could have been avoided if they wouldn't have let their guard down at the last rapids. When in doubt, scout.

    And the idea of one of them trying to cross the river to help the other isn't too smart, if it puts the one crossing the river into an even more dangerous situation. First rule of Search & Rescue: Don't make a bad situation worse, or become another person who needs to be rescued. (even though they're both in deep, and neither can rightly be thought of as a 'rescuer'...) They both should have built a shelter, hunkered down, and tried to stay warm and get through the night, but at this point it looks pretty grim.
     

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