Home & Leisure

'Alone,' Camping and Heeding the Call of the Wild


I'm no one's idea of a survivalist.

My only time tent camping came at the age of 14. It rained all night, seeping into the tent where I accidentally touched the walls. We ate breakfast on an overturned log, and the pancakes were miraculously both raw inside and burned outside. On the car ride home, my friend's mom told me to check my hair for ticks. I screamed, "TICKS?!?" then found one in my scalp, an event I relive in quarterly nightmares.

In high school, I was forced to accompany my mother to a weekendlong bluegrass festival that included a stay in a woodsy cabin in rural Missouri. Whether or not this sounds fun to you probably depends greatly on whether you're a 16-year-old who wears Doc Martens, listens to a lot of Depeche Mode and wouldn't be caught dead admitting that you'd ever heard of someone named "Earl Scruggs."

My one positive memory was lying out with my best friend, who for some reason agreed to go with me, on the rocky shore of a murky Ozarks creek, far enough away from the festival grounds that we could drown it out with fiddle-free music from my boombox, trying to get enough of a tan to convince our other friends that we'd been at the beach.

I've decided never again to voluntarily spend 24 consecutive hours out of doors.

But I still hear the call of the wild, perhaps with the ears of my ancestors, who, just two generations ago, lived without electricity and running water, and gave birth at home on straw floors.


Instead of leaving my home, though, I just curl up on my couch and read books like Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air," about a doomed expedition on Mount Everest in 1996, or watch TV shows like "Alone" on the History Channel.

If you've never watched it, "Alone" is basically "Survivor" for homesteaders and conspiracy theorists. They drop off survivalists in the middle of nowhere (usually some bleak Canadian island) with no food or water and limited supplies. The contestants are too far apart from one another to know how many are left, and the "competition," such as it is, amounts to living off the land for as long as it takes to outlast everyone else.

And they do quit, some quickly and some months later. There are typically a handful of contestants who will, at some point, look around, ask themselves, "What the heck am I doing?" and fail to come up with a decent answer. They're very relatable.

Then, every few weeks or so, someone will fall down the side of a mountain trying to haul firewood to their shelter or get pulled from the competition due to their 200-calorie-a-day all-berry diet almost giving them a stroke. They're less relatable.


swipe to next page

Copyright 2023 Creators Syndicate Inc.




Carpe Diem Blondie Bill Bramhall Archie Breaking Cat News Boondocks