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Survival Stories?

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posted on Apr, 21 2019 @ 06:20 PM
"Survival" isn't always what most people think it is. When you say the word 'survival' to someone, many people conjure up some doomsday scenario akin to the "Day After" or some other apocalypse. Often times true survival is much more mundane and down to earth. Improvisation is always key. To me, the definition of "survival" is some seriously off normal event which comes up on you when you least expect it, and lasts way longer than you expected or were prepared for. This is one such story.

One day a couple buddies of mine and I were taking an easy camping / hiking trip off the west coast of lower Michigan on an island called South Manitou Island. The year was 1990 or so. S. Manitou Island lies about 16 miles off the coast in Lake Michigan just west of Leland, MI. It may be a lot different now, but here was our experience.

Our plan was to spend four days on the island, we left on Thursday afternoon and planned to spend Thursday through Saturday nights on the island leaving on Sunday mid-day. Passage to S. Manitou is by ferry (or boat, not really a "ferry" as no cars are on board). The island is fairly small, measuring only about 3 miles x 3 miles. All of us, save one, were experienced outdoorsmen who had grown up in Wyoming and Montana. We had good gear, and this was just an easy, fun, weekend.

Friday was a beautiful day, and we pretty much hiked the whole island (including the giant dunes...which are a blast). Friday night some weather blew in and it started to rain...and I mean RAIN! No worries, we were all good; rain is pretty much a non-issue if you're equipped properly. We had a nice fire (which was kind of verboten) from dead fall and a nice tarp set up. Our tents were all 4 season tents and were nice and dry inside. Our clothing was all set up to deal with any weather. And it continued to rain. And rain. And rain. Then the wind picked up, and the rain was going sideways.

By Saturday morning the wind was howling and the rain hadn't let up. We decided to hike over to the Coast Guard station to see if we could leave. All the ferry's had been cancelled for the day. Oh well, back to our camp. Before we left we noticed a whole lot of 'refugees' staying at the old CG rescue boathouse. Fair weather campers we thought. But I remembered this one guy who had his young son with him whom I had met on the boat over. They didn't have a lot of gear, and he had his son for the weekend (divorced parent)...his boy was so excited. Camping with Dad! I hoped they were okay. I didn't see him or his son, but I didn't look through everyone there.

Oh well, back to our camp.

By Saturday night we were one of the only ones who had a campfire (again, you weren't supposed to have one, but we made it from dead trees laying around). At one point one of the park rangers came around and asked if they could have some of our fire to help some other people out. We gladly accepted, and even went to help. Poor people were cold and wet, and completely unprepared. They were hungry and scared. We shared some of our food with them (not much, but we didn't have a whole lot).

By Sunday morning the conditions hadn't improved even one bit. We were camped on the top of the dunes on the west side of the island which was the windward side. Looking down the dunes we could see these 20+ foot waves crashing into the beach below. We didn't even bother walking across the island that day to look into the ferry; no ferry would make this weather!

By Monday the weather was still awful, and one of the guys walked over to the old CG ferry on Monday either. By now the old CG station truly was a refugee camp. Even they were out of food. Apparently there was a diabetic who was out of insulin so they were going to send a helo out to pick him up. We were pretty much out of food, and now collecting rain and lake water for water. The rain was unrelenting. Even we were now starting to get wet. Climbing in and out of our tents while soaking wet was taking its toll. And we were out of food, and very hungry!

One thing about the island is, they had apples, lots and lots of apples. There were apples everywhere, so we started picking up apples. We had a few basic supplies, so we made apples for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I learned something; apples get really old after they're all you have to eat!

On Tuesday we were ready to leave! ferry on Tuesday either. The situation at the old CG boat station was crazy. They even flew in some crates of some kind of rations later that day. We just tried to keep to our own. Oh, and did I mention; if you eat nothing but apples you get the Texas Two-Step in pretty short order...which means you need way more water! There was plenty of water falling from the sky, but you still had to boil it just to be safe. We were working on traps to catch squirrels, but never managed to get anything, and our one fishing rod never caught a fish.

On Wednesday the boat came in the late day, much to our and everyone else's relief.

We were never in any real danger. Hardship, sure, but never life threatening, at least not for us.

I ran into that little boy and his dad on the boat back to Leland. He was wrapped in a blanket and freezing. Poor little guy! I've always felt bad about that kid, and I sure hope it didn't spoil any future experiences with his dad (rare as they may have been). His dad was probably foolish for going out there with just a kid's canvas pup-tent and some cotton sleeping bags, but he didn't know what was going to happen.

In the end, I don't think we could have done anything much better than we did. We had fire, we had water, and we managed to get food. And we had Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). Oh sure, there's probably some things I wish I would have brought, but overall we were very prepared, probably "too prepared"...but then, look what happened.

This is not an epic tale, but just a slice of life and one of those things you remember.

Sometimes, "Survival" isn't the end of the world, but rather just a short-lived experience which can be unpleasant, even deadly if you let it be.

I'd love to hear your stories.

posted on Apr, 21 2019 @ 06:40 PM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Great story FCD. Would make a good topic on the writers forum. There are a lot of beaut desert stories from Aus Land. Some people for weeks in the desert. Others perished.

Nice adventure you had there and probably a good learning curve for you and the other participants.

Good read, enjoyed that.

Kind regards,


posted on Apr, 21 2019 @ 06:54 PM
Living here in MI been to both North and South Maniotu many times. Headed to Beaver Island in a couple of weeks. It's civilized with a town but still at the mercy of the ferry.

Missed going out a couple of times but only one day of delay coming back in all our trips.

A group of my interns from all over the world went out a couple of years ago and I warned them to take extra supplies, 36 hour delay and only one listened to me about taking extra supplies. They all avoided me after that HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Just to add there is somewhat of a town there now and shelter is available.

edit on 21-4-2019 by mikell because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 21 2019 @ 07:57 PM
I've never been to Manitou Island. I was on Isle Royal twice, once in sixty nine and once in seventy one I think. I was there with the scouts, we were prepared. The trip out there on the Ranger was miserable, small craft warnings both times. I spent half the trip puking over the side of the ship....both times.

I had fun out there, Isle Royal is a really nice place to vacation and it also has a place to get ice cream cones and hamburgers when you get off the ship or are waiting to get on the ship.

I used to go camping out in the Hills of Hancock when I was fifteen to sixteen all by myself, I loved camping and I was not afraid of bears or other animals, skunks scared me the most. At that age I just had a twenty two rifle, you only piss off a bear if you shoot him with that. But it will discourage coyotes from attacking. Back those days around my neck of the woods, a boy could carry a rifle and nobody really worried about it. I took my shotgun into some more risky areas, with slugs. But it was not good to be shooting a shotgun just outside of town unless needed for protection, doing so might attract cops to where you were. Then they would tell you you needed to go home. I always informed my parents where I was camping.

I learned long ago how to survive if needed, now I get panicky if I get low on coffee, less than seven cans in stock is total unpreparedness. Survival has changed for me over the years, now that I am sixty three, I look at survival as staying out of the clutches of the pill pushers. The reality has changed for me now, things are different. I started studying pharmacology and, I am not afraid of bacteria, fungus, or viruses at all after learning what I have learned. I am trying to learn how to live symbiotically with these critters instead of fearing them like the skunks.

Survival is not just surviving in the wilderness, it is surviving everywhere. It is learning to not fear things that some in society to want us to fear. It is analyzing what fearmongers try to make you fear. There are many people and groups that benefit by us fearing them.

So, I am researching and with that research learning how to cook foods to keep myself and others I know sane and healthy. That is survival these days, I have no desire to go out in the woods anymore other than to go stream fishing, get firewood, and to pick wild berries. It is much nicer to come home and sleep in a bed and cook on the stove or the fire pit in the back yard than to go out into the wilderness.

posted on Apr, 22 2019 @ 09:50 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I was out camping alone deep in the woods when a fire started a mile away from me.
By the time I smelled the smoke the fire had moved in between me and my way out of the woods.
For hours I had to keep moving deeper and deeper into the forest to escape the smoke.

But it was just to fast.

To save myself I laid down in a stream that was in a gully. It was the lowest point around. The fire burned on near me but moved past me. The smoke cleared.
I'm sure if I'd not run and gotten low I would have died from that smoke.

The next night was awesome. There were 20-30 foot tall embers standing everywhere. Glowing bright red in the dark. The fire had burned the trees but left their shells standing. It was very dangerous so I waited till the next day to walk out. Making sure to keep my eyes on those shells.

Yes I had to carry my back pack and a military cot with me while I ran away from the smoke. Or else they would have burned along with my tarps.

posted on Apr, 22 2019 @ 09:55 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I learned something; apples get really old after they're all you have to eat!

Feels like a flaw in us doesn't it?
The inability to enjoy a food if you have it to many times in a row.

Other animals don't seem to care.

posted on Apr, 22 2019 @ 10:53 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Never been to South Manitou island only North manitou. Only one time in the fall after labor day and truly enjoyed those crispy apples too! Mostly, For years we would head up there for the week before Memorial weekend. Almost guaranteed to get off the island that weekend. Always pack at least 10 days worth, so we always fill up the chest before leaving the island for others not so prepared. As a woman, I always make sure to leave the feminine necessities, as well. They can be a god send for those ill-prepared.

We had found ourselves soaked from rain and fogged in for 3 days one time. Birch bark was a life savior for getting a small fire started for drying and warmth. Same as South Manitou, fires not allowed except in designated village area.

We just holed up in our camp though, especially since trees had fallen down across trails from weight of water and a storm that came through a week earlier. Found out there were actually 2 other people on the island that week but they were sleeping on the concrete inside the ranger intro center.

This is the first spring, we are not making it up there. Hubby says in the fall, but honestly, I like the adventure of being first in the spring. The smell of leeks in the air. Thawing Springs overflowing everywhere. It isn't so trampled, bugs aren't terrible and not too hot. Lol. Thanks for opportunity to quickly share some memories.

We did have an emergency once where my hubby dang near cut his finger off. We were reapplying bandaging and coating with antibiotics, but really needed to get off the island before our surgical supplies ran out. We managed to radio the shoreline from the lone maintenance guy on the island. Waves were to high for any charter boat so we did stay in the boathouse that time waiting for a boat to come out. It was an awesome blessing with a bad thunderstorm blew in. That was a pretty penny to be paid, but amazingly that twin engine had us back to Leland in 15 minutes! So now, we definitely doubled up on our first aid supplies.

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