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Cold Weather Survival Skills (Alaska Style)

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posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 03:21 AM
In one of my reply post, a ATS member kind of hammered me for being critical of some other posts related to survivalism. He wrote that I should write something about Cold Weather Survival, and I did.

I spent the better part of today putting this all together, if nothing other, than for your personal amusement and ever-critical critique. Anticipating both; I present the finished results herein.

(When I am better at posting pictures, I will include a variety of pictures along with other posts. It always makes the reading more enjoyable, for me at least.)

Lastly; I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks for the positive comment on my previous post, and my sincere "who cares" for that that didn’t like it. (HEH HE).

I've attempted to approach this post with ideas summoned from real life experiences, not just book reading and suppositions. Everything posted herein is based on experiences that I’ve encountered throughout my life thus far.
To put things into perspective:
My “Dear Ol’ Dad” told me when I was eleven years old informed me -“That if I couldn’t live by his rules, under his roof, that I should get my own roof—“ I took him at his word, and was promptly out the bathroom window that night after he was fast asleep. I never went back home until I was 20 years old.
Being a city bred kid, with no practical experience or adequate skill set, but having somehow, through a voracious and vicarious reading propensity, come to understand that being a genuine American “Mountain Man” was to be my dream fulfilled. The opportunity of being homeless at eleven years old, provided me with impetus to seek my fortunes in the nether regions of the wilds.
The Blue Ridge Mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia were my proving grounds. For the better part of two years, I lived in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Particularly, in the Koomer Ridge area adjacent to the Natural Arch that draws many tourists, even today.
I was a scared, dirty-unkempt runaway child. I weighed less than one hundred pounds, and had never spent the night alone in the woods before. My total sum of gear included the old’ man’s web belt, a GI canteen and cover, two ammo pouches, and a rusty old bread knife. Band-Aids, three packs of Kool-Aid, and some crackers rounded out my meager supplies.
The area was crawling with picnickers, camper’s and tourists. What I couldn’t steal, or manufacture, I did without. There were many things that I did without, mainly food. Hunger was always gnawing at me, and at times, I could eat three acres of wild berries, and still be hungry afterwards.
On a cold rainy night, I happened across a broke down old dilapidated pickup truck sitting beside the road leading into town. I think it was Winchester Kentucky, but can’t remember for sure after all these years.. After watching it for about an hour, I crept closer to it with the intent of seeing what was useful inside of it. My mind was playing tricks on me, as I envisioned bags of groceries, and three-musketeer chocolaty bars, my favorite at the time. To my absolute horror, I found an old German issue Grey Coat, the kind made out 100% wool, a rusty old roofing hatchet, some bailing wire, and a very old Ithaca Model #49 single-shot lever action rifle, with two boxes of shells. One of the boxes has about ten rounds missing. It was to be my very first rifles. (I gave a similar one to my daughter when she was five years old. After her passing in 2003, her brother inherited it,) The other most memorable find was a pack of Lucky strike cigarettes and a beat up old Zippo lighter. I’ll always regret taking those damned smokes, as even now at 52, I still can’t kick that terrible habit.
The Park Rangers and Game Wardens were always present, as were various poachers, moonshiners, doper growers, fishermen, and hunters. I always thought to myself that these people were out trying to find me. Little did I know, that my folks had placed a nationwide APB on me, and every cop in the country was hoping to catch me. I’m not sure how many cops actually went looking for me, but I suppose that some attempt was made, but, as it seems, without much success. At least for awhile.

I was caught twice around Louisville, and once in Cincinnati Ohio by the police who saw me during school hours. Somehow, not sure exactly, lucky I guess; I managed to break out of these “juvenile delinquent finishing schools for would-be criminals, and made my way back to the woods.
I stayed away from anybody, and everybody. To me they represented failure, and eventual return to face a serious A$$ whupping by the old man, for putting my mother through so much grief. I was determined to avoid that at all costs. All costs.
I guess enough complaints poured into the Park headquarters about some skinny filthy dirty kid streaking from the tree line, like some mad deranged Yogi Bear, swiping picnic baskets and KFC chicken dinners from under their noses . They had to do something about it. I soon found myself being hunted by Park Rangers on horseback, in jeeps, and many just walking around trying to find me.
It was time to exit the AO-rather quickly.
A couple of years later, a couple of gangs later, and thousands of miles across the country hiding in empty railcars, I found myself in the Teton Mountains outside of Yellowstone National Park. My first “Real Winter” was to be in this area. But having spent a considerable amount of time reading various survival manuals, and getting cold hard advice from travelling hobo’s, I was a little better prepared for “real life survival”. That and having amassed the necessary gear and supplies, gave me the head start that I needed to learn how to take care of myself in the woods.
The first winter the temperature dropped to seventy below zero with the wind-chill factored in at -35 below zero. Needless to say, that was freaking cold. The coldest that I had ever experienced. I lived in what is now called area 98, just south of Jackson Hole Wyoming, near Hobback Junction. An area comprised of Bridger-Teton National Forest. It was there, and later in other areas, as well as the US Army, that my survival skills were well honed.

Alaska had always been calling me from the first time I heard it’s swoon. I Now live here in the Last Frontier State, as part of my early childhood dreams, chasing that elusive call of nature. Perhaps one day I will actually shed this post-modernistic-consumerism, and find myself a fat little hair squaw to tend the fires and chew my leathers. (HEH HEH)
I’ll end this personal odyssey into my retrospective youth on that note, and get to the “meat & taters” of my posts. Do enjoy, and please comments where appropriate, as I am always willing to listen to opposing views, and new strategies…

posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 03:30 AM


posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 03:46 AM


posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 08:10 AM
reply to post by AlaskaFranke

Hi Alaska,

I read all the parts of your winter survival posts with great interest and I have to say that a lot of your tips could be useful even for people like me. I live in a part of the world where it rarely gets much below still-air temperatures of minus 30 celsius (around -22 F). But as you said, people can die from hypothermia at 35 degrees F.

Even just slogging cross-country in winter here, I've had enough bad experiences and hard lessons with those parkas with detachable hoods, cheaper snow boots that just don't work well enough or even tear, sticking zippers and other sundry delights that you warned about. Considering that the you-know-what could hit the fan in a big way one of these days, your advice could be life-saving for many.

There's something I've wondered about, you know: I've read so many comments on various survival threads about how people are just going to grab their BOB and get out of Dodge, and all the while I'm thinking, "But what if there's a blizzard where you are -- or a flood, or forest fires all over the place? Who says it's going to be a nice spring day?"

Your posts add a little perspective to that.

Also, you own recollections in your post here help us to see that you're not just spouting stuff you read off the internet but rather this is knowledge gleaned from hard, personal experience. That's the reason I've posted my thanks here. (Btw S&F on each.)

Best regards,


posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 09:19 AM
reply to post by JustMike

Ya' Know JustMike, I agree with you on that point. Some people assume the crap will hot the fan during nice spring weather. The fact is, MURPHY shows up when you least expect it, or cant afford it. At least its always been that way for me.

Grabbing the BOB and getting out of Dodge is great, as long as you actually have someplace that your slogging through the weather to. It would be a shame to spend a considerable amount time and money building a BOB, and then having no place to use it.

I think when people talk like this, having no destination in mind, other than wandering the countryside; their really not into survivalism, but more into buying gear. I would venture to say that it speaks volumes about their overall survival strategies, and they are probably doomed to failure as soon as the food supply runs out.

posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 01:17 PM
reply to post by AlaskaFranke

I want to thank you AlaskaFranke for the efforts and the time that you have put into these threads,they are informative,well laid out,and A great resource from someone who lives daily in a place that is harsh and dangerous at times.

I hope you don't mind that I archive this series and use it as A reference for myself and the education of others. I'm asking for permission to do so in a non-commercial way.

[edit on 7-10-2009 by The Utopian Penguin]

posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 02:06 PM
How is this thread even in the survival forum?

All it contains is a long narrative of someone's childhood spent as hobo on the run. Perhaps this should be moved to the short story/creative writing forum on BTS.

posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 02:17 PM
I hail from Norway although I have never been there my blood is of the Vikings so I do really well in the cold and I hate the heat. I do go ice fishing often here in Michigan.

My next adventure is to camp on Lake St Clair once the ICE freezes. I always wondered what it would be like to camp in the desolation of tundra like environments and this is as close as I can get right now. To hear the cracking of the ICE and the howling of the wind I think would be eerie and fun.

My hat is off to you. You seem like a real adventurous spirit!

posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 02:22 PM
reply to post by The Utopian Penguin

Absolutely, that's what they were intended for.....

posted on Oct, 8 2009 @ 05:31 AM
reply to post by jibeho

It's far more than just a story, jibeho. This thread is actually the introduction to AlaskaFranke's three-part series on the subject of survival in very cold conditions. All of them located within the "survival" forum. They're well worth reading, and help to explain the relevance of this particular thread and why it's here on this forum.

Here are the links:

Cold Weather Survival Part 1

Cold Weather Survival Part 2

Cold Weather Survival Part 3

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