The Alaska Experiment: Seeing just how domesticated we as a society have become
Recently I got a copy of the first season of “The Alaska Experiment” and decided to have a sit down with the whole series. It took a couple mornings of watching but I powered through the whole season, spending much of that time yelling at the TV because there were more than a couple morons participating in the “experiment”
First off though, let me cover some territory for you here about past posts concerning Alaska, Chris McCandless, and the whole “Cult” that has grown around his story of erzats survival in the Alaskan bush. So here’s my thing:
1) McCandless was not the sharpest knife in the drawer where it came to survival in the wilds of AK. Thus, he died.
2) I am loathe of all those twenty-somethings out there who want to emulate him and wish to trek off to the “magic bus” that he died in. They pose more of a threat to their own lives and perhaps rescuers than anything else. They are just as likely to be as misguided and lacking in true survival skills as McCandless was, if not more so.
3) I believe as a whole, that we as a society have become too domesticated to survive a day without a latte, never mind being plunked down in the bush and expected to survive past a week nevermind three months. This goes not only for the Alaska bush, but just about anywhere woodsy.
4) Lastly, this show is just that.. “a show” so, it is likely that there is some jiggering of plot lines etc here. It is noted in big disclaimers that there were wilderness experts off camera to assure that these people don’t just get themselves offed right quick. In essence, they were in danger there from their own brand of stupid, distance from hospitals, and encounters with wildlife that could end them. Aside from that, they were relatively safe with camera crews etc…
Ok, that said, lets get on to the object lessons..
The show placed four groups into differing areas of the AK coast. One couple had a canvas tent, another had a exceedingly small shack on a glacier, and the other group of three people had a hunting cabin. All of the groups had little to no real backwoods experience and all were not accustomed to the rigours that they were about to undertake.
The groups were sent out at the end of the summer when the salmon were running. Each area had differing amounts of natural game available and ALL only had dried stores of food that really lacked protein rich stuffs. In essence, it’s kinda like that bag of rice that Supertramp had and that’s about it. NONE of them started off with guns whatsoever either.
** Note here.. Uhh WTF no guns? IT’S ALAKSA!! Bears, moose, etc could whack em as well as uh, how do you get protein other than fish? IF you catch fish? Eventually they get guns but mostly I only saw a .22 rifle.. That ain’t gonna do shit!**
So, they are plunked down with some stores and some shelter… Go forth and forage! It wasn’t long before these people began to eat too much of their stores, realize that fishing is hard, and that it’s fucking cold in Alaska. Oh, and did I mention that it’s riddled with wildlife that will eat you or stomp you if it wants to? Yeah… AND it’s salmon run and the bears are hungry… But I have no gun… I will just poke em with a stick… Yeah that will work.
*ok I know there are guides there with guns.. but.. C’mon don’t give people ideas here!*
Ok, we have a mix for disaster don’t we. Yep…
I will not go into much more detail, I will let you all locate the series and watch it yourselves. Perhaps you too will be yelling at the screen because some of these people would have been dead dead dead were it not for camera crews and guides. I saw some powerful epic stupid and really, it’s kinda glossed over by the show and that is troublesome.
The one thing that was nailed home in this series was the BMI needs and the measurements carried out by the volunteers. It quite clearly shows how much BMI is in importance for survival especially in the wild. You are expending a lot of energy to hunt and gather. Unless you do a good job at that and plan, then you will lose body mass and eventually, like McCandless, could die from lack of protein. I am glad that the show at the very least, covered this issue repeatedly. I guess someone learned from the Supertramp experience.
In the end, everyone makes it out alive. Perhaps having learned a few things, like NEVER going into the bush EVER again! Overall though, it really makes you see rather clearly how ill equipped we are as urban dwellers to really make a stab at survival in the wild..
Unless you work at it.
The second season will be broadcast this year with new “volunteers” heh… Donner, party of four now seating!
Really, if you want to learn anything about bush survival, I suggest you look up the name “Ray Mears”