I think I might do it...

4:13 p.m. on December 19, 2008 (EST)
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I am sure this site is full of threads regarding living in the wilderness, but I thought one more wouldn't hurt. Ever since I was a kid I have dreamed of living in the wilderness and fending for myself. Well, like many others with this dream, I squashed it and decided to finish college and get a job in the "real world." Now that I am turning 30 it would seem that my opinion has of what the "real world" actually is. The daily grind is rewarding and I am better for having done it the past 12 years, but I think it's time for a change. I am currently in the best shape of my life and wondered only this: what do all of you think the odds are of someone living off the land, so to speak, successfuly? I would go west and find a nice stretch of wilderness to occupy (I have a place in mind, but not eager to divulge location).

4:20 p.m. on December 19, 2008 (EST)
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I have always thought I would do that someday too. I am going on 53 and ever since I was 21 have wantted to live somewhere in the wilderness and be like some indian or aboriginee.
There are a few places left in the west large enough and wild enough to pull it off. The Gila Wilderness of west central New Mexico and the Grand Staircase of southwestern Utah are amongst the best I have seen.
Follow your dreams and try it out. Read what Henry David Thoreau wrote about it in Walden...

6:27 p.m. on December 19, 2008 (EST)
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What do you mean by

living in the wilderness and fending for myself

How much of civilization are you going to take with you and how much are you going to leave behind - clothing, tools, food, ...? Are you going to take seeds and domestic animals, or are you going to try to live off native plants and wild game (anywhere from squirrels, rats, coon, possum up to deer and other ungulates)? You should be aware that almost all seeds you buy in stores are hybrids, and most will not produce seeds for a second generation. Are you going to take your hand tools with you (I assume you are eschewing power tools, or are you planning some sort of power project, whether it be a water or wind-driven mill or generator or solar, or whatever), or are you going to create your own tools? Are you planning on taking all the clothing you will need, or will you make your own with no input from civilized sources (using fur, leather, cloth from natural native fibers or bark)? Will you be replenishing consumables from civilization or from native sources?

Gary refers to Thoreau and Walden. Keep in mind that Thoreau was only a short distance outside Concord and replenished his supplies and brought his tools with him for the very short couple of years he was at Walden (people forget how short a time he was there). You might do better to get ahold of the Foxfire series of books that detail how people up until the early 20th Century made and grew things (including recipes for possum, wild fowl, deer, rabbits, squirrels, ...).

When picking a location, be aware of what the regulations are in this over-regulated world. Land managers in many places do not take kindly to folk who want to truly live off the land. Also keep in mind the steep learning curve involved. Read Into the Wild to see what a mistake or misreading along that learning curve can do. You have to understand the climate, the local flora and fauna, what's edible and what's not, and how to prepare and preserve it (harvesting season is generally short outside the tropics, and even there you have to store up to tide you to the next season). What are the extremes of the climate and how do you deal with those extremes? How do you build a shelter to keep yourself warm in the cold season and cool in the warm season, and from local, native materials, not lumber bought at the lumberyard and cement mixed up from a bag? If you will hunt, using only local materials, how do you build a successful snare or deadfall, fishing gear (a gill net is easiest), bow and arrows, or gunpowder and bullets?

It all sounds very romantic. But it is hard work, deprivation, perseverance, dedication, and a lot else.

7:23 p.m. on December 19, 2008 (EST)
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Go for it! But listen to Bill's advice as well. Basically, "Be Prepared" with plenty of knowledge and lots of common sense.

"Back to the Land" movements come in cycles. During the late 1930's-early 1940's, you had E.B. White with "One Man's Meat", and Louise Rich with "We took to the woods". Then in the 1970's a vast exodus to the rural areas occurred, helped along by Mother Jones and the Whole Earth Catalogue. It may be time for the next diaspora.

I knew many in Eastern Canada who tried to make a go of it off the grid. A few succeeded. Some friends of mine raised eight healthy children without electricity, refusing to be linked to the "system". Running water was just that -- the stream, a bucket, and a set of the nearest feet meant water.

Another couple with one child had a compromise - he drove to work each day charging a battery as he went. When John got home he switched the charged battery for one of the seven which was lowest in output. The whole A-frame ran on 12 volt.

I bought ten acres for $900.00 cdn and built myself a log cabin. As I worked I could hear a woman from Columbia playing her bone flute from their cabin almost 1/2 mile upstream. Eerie but beautiful.

Other folk simply walked down the abandoned railway tracks until they found a likely spot and built there. The owner of the land would be an absentee landlord. Those squatters probably own their homes outright today, by adverse possession.

8:13 p.m. on December 19, 2008 (EST)
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If you do it and live, I'll admire you. After seeing the special on Richard Proenneke on PBS and reading the book, I am convinced that I could not. Richard Proenneke lived alone in the wilderness of Alaska, built a cabin by hand, farmed and caught his own food, and made his own tools.

In order to live off the grid, at least comfortably, one would have to spend nearly every waking hour of every day working. Not just for things one may need now, but looking ahead to prepare for the next season, storm, drought, injury, illness, and any number of other events you may encounter.

Think about farmers, even modern ones. Up before dawn and in bed just after dark. With no electricity, the time available in the wilderness, for serious work, is limited.

Not trying to pop your bubble or anything, I'm simply saying, "I couldn't do it." Maybe we'll see YOU on PBS one day!

Richard Proenneke

12:18 a.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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I have lived alone for extended periods in very remote wilderness regions of BC, AB and this usually entailed a season of employment as a Fire Lookoutman. I was born and raised in a pioneer family in the Kootenays of BC and taught bush skills by real professionals who had lived alone in the BC bush since before WWI.

When the late '60s "back to the land" movement was in it's heyday, I was employed supervising various forestry crews for the BCFS and, later, private consulting firms. I had to teach bear safety, various basic work skills and even simple bush hygiene to highly educated young people, most of them upper-middle class Americans from well-off families.

As they bought up much of the rural land in my home area (and later speculated in it against all "hippy" ideals....), I often assisted those I was friendly with by falling, bucking and moving timber, showing how to build culverts, fix snowshoes and sharpen a chainsaw, a task I still absolutely loath.

In remote northern BC, we had bearded "hairheads" who would loudly tell guys like me how to do various tasks because "Brad" had written that THIS was the way to do it......I worked with an old drunk who knew "Brad" and was a hell of a bush cook, which is why we put up with his benders; "Brad" on the other hand, was a standing joke in the north of BC, where he did reside briefly and those who followed his "wisdom", well........they are not there anymore.

Simply put, living in the bush in the summer, IF, you know what you are doing and have a few simple tools is pretty easy. Very few contemporary people have the specific personality strengths to do this, though, as we are SO VERY "socialized" now. In a wilderness winter, most who try this in BC quit after a couple of weeks and some simply freeze to death, get squashed in avalanches or go through the ice and become fish food.

I would suggest trying a fortnight alone in the approximate area where you wish to try this, then, if it feels good, try a month WITHOUT a break and see how it goes. I have gone for three straight months on a number of occasions and this was with two radio "skeds" per day, but, no other electronics or anything mechanical, this by choice.

I think that you will find that the savage loneliness, heavy boring labour ABSOLUTELY necessary to simply survive and the lack of the social stimuli/interaction you are used to will be so unpleasant that you will see this dream for what it is, a harmless escapist fantasy in an over-populated and high-stress world.

The legal, etc., aspects of this, even in the most isolated parts of Canada, the last real wilderness, except Antarctica, left, pretty much preclude any realistic opportunity for this lifestyle. Get a copy of "Crusoe of Lonesome Lake" by Leland Stowe, the story of Ralph Edwards, O.C., who pioneered alone in the BC Coast Range, starting in 1912. READ what he wrote about the loneliness that nearly drove him insane and he was VERY suited to this life.

I knew his eldest son, Stanley, some 40 years ago, up the coast and his son John is still alive as is his daughter, Trudy Turner. Read what these people have written about their lives in the bush and THEN give it some more serious thought. Believe me, it is NOT at all like the American gunwriters and such adventurous types would have you believe, not even slightly.

6:58 a.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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Another thing to consider - the pioneers in North America largely succeeded, because it was success or death. If you are serious about undertaking a life in the wilderness, then don't do it half-heartedly - with a cell-phone in case you stub your toe. "Burn the boats" - make sure that you do not have any options for survival except your own will/skill to survive. Otherwise, every day of rain/cold/hunger will be an enticement to give it up.

Also, most people in these times are unfamiliar with isolation. A person who enjoys just his own company is considered strange and anti-social. Be sure to bring a soccer ball with you --- "Wilson, wait!!"

11:10 a.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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An interesting idea, but not a very realistic one. Long term, solo survival is almost an impossibility. Almost, because there are some people who have the skills and, most of all, the luck to accomplish this. Now, if you can find yourself a small patch of land, say next to a large expanse of national forest, within travelling distance to a decent sized town for support, that's not at all unrealistic. Talk of "burning the boats" is ridiculous, unless you want to end up dead of septic shock from a small scratch that became a serious staph infection or any other countless, minor problems that become life or death when removed from society.

Find you some room and give simple living a shot, but do it with a modicum of intelligence.

Kut -- Siberia has the worlds largest forest, millions of kilometers of wilderness (a lot of which remains unexplored to this day), volcanic mountain ranges, tundra and the Kamchatka Peninsula (a place, unfortunately, beginning to become spoilied by hunters after the Giant Brown Bear (very similar to our Kodiak) and salmon fisherman). I think it's one of the last great wild places left on Earth.

12:37 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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watch the movie "into the wild", the story of Christopher McCandless who sounds just like your post. I'm sure you would be smarter about things than he was but like others have said, are you willing to put the effort into it? McCandless ultimately died trying to "live" off the land, although he had a lot of heart he didnt have a lot of skill. Also think about the psychological hurdle you will have to overcome, can you do that? good luck but be smart about it all, and always have a backup plan.

1:06 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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After all lof this, you might become somewhat disheartened and I would add that what you want to do IS possible and doable, I merely felt it appropriate to offer some cautionary comments based on extensive actual experience living alone in true wilderness for relatively long periods of time.

Most people who comment on topics of this sort, as with G-Bear protection/defence have very little or no personal experience doing it and ones needs to be cautious about what advice one accepts. It comes down to desire, discipline and self-awareness, IMO and IME and your MAJOR problem is not and would not be ambient dangers, it is within your psyche, as the loneliness is what will get you far quicker than anything else.

I have had several friends who spent many years alone in northern Canada and some of them WERE a little "odd" after doing so, while others were quite normal and very interesting to converse with. As I posted, it is all about YOUR personality type.

As to the comment concerning Siberia, yes, it has the largest FOREST, however, it is much more settled throughout by people, while the 1.3+ million sq. mi. of Canada's N.W.T is almost empty and has about 100,000 total inhabitants. Thus, I tend to consider the N.W.T. actual "wilderness" while Siberia is "rural". But, these are all terms open to interpretation, olf course.

On the Grizzly issue, yes, the situation in Kamchatka,, where Russians slaughter the bears for hides and allow foreign "trophy hunters" to kill more of them is pretty damm sad. We have a similar problem here in BC, YT. and NWT and I, among others, have protested the policy of allowing foreign "trophy hunters" here at all; the rare "Stone's Sheep" is killed in large numbers by foreigners after a "Grand Slam" and thus BC citizens are left without sufficient access to our own wildlife.

The Amazon is another such region, but, again, is largely inhabited, albeit sparcely. I first went to the NWT in spring, 1966, and my wife was an outpost R.N. there and in the Yukon in the '70s, we are considering moving there after she retires and I hope to get back there this coming year.

Anyway, try a few "practice runs", take your time and see how you like it. I am 62 and if I were single now, I would live alone in very remote wilderness by choice...well, with my Rottweilers, books, guns and other such accoutrements, of course. Good luck to ya and if I can help with advice from what little I have learned, ask and I will try.

1:08 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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You said "talk of 'Burning the Boats' is ridiculous." I disagree; if you want a true wilderness experience, you don't introduce the cell-phone or radio. Once you add these "emergency aids" you have re-attached the umbilical cord and are no longer relying solely on yourself (and God).

What percentage of "hiker rescues" requested by phone or other means are really necessary and how many are for comfort or convenience? Too often people enter the backcountry in order to have a safe, pleasant experience - knowing that help is a speed-dial away. That is not, I hope, the poster's expectation; it seemed that he wanted a measure of self-reliance - avoiding potential danger not searching for faux fear.

Years ago I ran a nice section of river - 110 miles - in a lovely Old Town wood-and-canvas canoe that would respond to a flick of the paddle. Necessarily, I avoided the worst of the rocks when going through the rapids, choosing always the safest routes. No paint was lost and I had a great time learning to navigate safely.

The next summer I ran the same stretch but using an Old Town ABS plastic canoe that was a barge in the water. They advertised these canoes by dropping them bow first from the fifth floor of the factory onto the parking lot. Naturally, I took them at their word that the boats were "indestructible." I would choose the fastest routes through white water, even intentionally bouncing off rocks, confident that the hull would survive. Strangely, this trip was not as much fun as the previous and I learned nothing about proper navigation. It was, if you will, a Disneyesque experience.

Is death so bad? I don't think so; at least not nearly as sad as living without consequences for your actions.

1:22 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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I think I see your point here and I agree to an extent, your canoe trip analogy really does make a point that is much like certain experiences of my own. Lovely craft, the old wood and canvas 17ft Chestnut Prospectors, I have used one on Kootenay Lake and it was an exhilarating experience.

2:01 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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Rucker28 -
You have a lot of widely varying responses here, most from people who, frankly, have limited experience (or none) actually "living off the land". From what I know, only 2 or 3 of us who posted have had anything resembling extensive experience, and mine is mostly in the desert (if you know where to look and what to look for, the desert can supply plenty of food, water, and shelter).

Read the books that have been recommended (sorry, but Sean Penn's movie version of Into the Wild is a bit romanticized, although quite close for a movie; TV "survivor" programs are not very real, even if billed as "Reality"). Develop a plan by asking the questions I listed (keeping in mind that one of the basics of making it in living off the land is flexibility and adaptability, not following a rigid "plan" to the letter). Read kutenay's posts above in detail and think hard about what he says. Start with a few short trips, as a couple have recommended here. Re-evaluate and modify your plan. As you extend your time, you will be better able to evaluate whether your dream is realistic.

As kutenay and others noted here, the loneliness is something that gets to a lot of people. Many people do not understand the difference between "alone" and "lonely" - they believe that having spent time alone means they understand how to deal with loneliness. The point about socialization is very much to the point - you won't fully realize how important human contact (or with your dog, or volley ball) really is for you in trips of a few days, or even a few months.

You can get some idea of the "solo" question by reading some of the books about polar exploration and by polar explorers. When you have an exit, as pointed out above, it is not the same. Even having a regular radio sked, as kutenay mentions he did while on fire tower duty, you have contact (though a once a day 10 minute sked is starting to get some of the cut-off feel).

It will be interesting to see what your decision is and how you actually approach it.

3:16 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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I made an error in my earlier post, the actual size of Canada's northern territories is 1.5+ million sq. mi. and the latest population figures show about 100,000 total inhabitants. MOST people, including those with very extensive deep wilderness experience who live in these territories actually live among other folks....and, if you have ever been "north of 60", ESPECIALLY in winter, you will understand WHY.

But, try it, enjoy what you experience and learn and see if it is for you. There ARE rewards to the solo wilderness life, but, they are difficult to describe in this format.

3:59 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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Hmmm ... as a kid I dreamt of the day when I'd "become an adult" so I could move to the wilderness and live like Grizzly Adams :). But once I actually did reach adulthood, I pretty quickly realized how unrealistic that idea had been. And even if it were realistic, I eventually realized it wasn't really what I wanted. As humans, we're basically social creatures to varying degrees ... so living completely alone for extended periods probably wouldn't be very good for us...

6:03 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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Regarding the isolation possible in Canada, most people can't comprehend it. Of the 30 million people in Canada in the 2001 census, only 4,110,745 lived outside urban areas and most of these lived in towns. When you understand that 90% of Canada's residents live within 100 miles of the US border ( http://ctrc.sice.oas.org/geograph/papers/iie/hufbauer0401.asp ), and you start looking at Swan River, Lynn Lake, and Churchill, MB as semi-urban areas more than one hundred miles north, the actual population per square mile in the mid-to-far north is probably less than one.

Here is the 2001 BC census -- http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/english/census01/products/highlight/SAC/Page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo=PR&Table=1a&Sort=2&StartRec=1&B1=Age&B2=Counts&Code=59

Another fine book to read is "Cache Lake Country" by John Rowlands, set in Ontario in 1947.

Another aspect of isolation, apart from Cabin Fever, which I documented here - http://www.overmywaders.com/cblog/archives/91-Cabin-Fever-Illustrated.html - is that some of the best of life is sharing it with others. Serving others may be more apparent in rural areas than urban, but both provide the opportunities. For example, I was living in Winnipeg one winter, rewinding 600 hp electric motors for the potash mines in Saskatchewan, when the bus drivers decided to go on strike just weeks before Christmas. December in Winnipeg means the constant West-East wind was blowing and the temperature was 30 below F, 40 below with the wind-chill factor. The city government set up hitchhiking stops all over the city; little granny ladies in fine furs could be seen with their thumbs out, before hopping into the battered pickup of a stranger. All the stores and businesses had people huddling inside between short dashes in the cold. People helped one another, no questions asked; and for many, I think, it made Christmas better.

Losing people to isolation is a loss for everyone. OTOH, it may be something you need for a time, which will sustain you in years ahead.

7:11 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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Reed OMW,
Just about split a gut reading the Cabin Fever thing! Have to clean the monitor screen, as it is.

The story reminded me in a terrible way, of a tentmate I had on a monthlong attempt on Denali. After having spent a week sitting in the tent, waiting out a storm at the 17,000 foot camp, which had followed a 4 day wait in storm at 14,000 ft, Crazy James suddenly rose up from his sleeping bag and said, "This is like prison, only worse! At least in prison, you have a chance of getting away once you break out. Here you have a week of fighting the wind, hoping you don't fall into a crevasse, and wading through deep snow just to get back down to the Kahiltna, and then you have another 50 miles to get down off the glacier, where the bears are just waiting to eat you! I gotta get outta here!" This delivered with wild rolling eyes. He headed out of the tent and managed to persuade one of the other guys in the group in another tent to go with him to shoot some photos. We found out only after eventually bailing off the mountain and getting back to Talkeetna that James was wandering around without crampons and almost slid down Rescue Gully, except that the guy who went with him managed to grab him (the other guy had crampons on and an ice ax).

And that wasn't even solo isolation, since we were a party of 7 at that point. You can surmise why we called him Crazy James.

10:03 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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As time has gone by, and one by one of the elite has given their serious contribution, I see no reply from the starter of the tred. Maybe he/she is so overhwelmed that he/she is speechless, or maybe the whole question was a joke? I'm waiting for the solution.

8:11 a.m. on December 21, 2008 (EST)
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You said: "Just about split a gut reading the Cabin Fever thing! Have to clean the monitor screen, as it is."

Others have mentioned that they also were deeply moved by Al's tragic descent into cabin fever.

As an addendum to the story I should note that I saw Al on the street a few months later and he looked fine. However, he swore he had never been in my cabin and had been living and working two hundred miles away all winter. I guess we should add "denial" to the list of symptoms of cabin fever.

12:22 a.m. on December 22, 2008 (EST)
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Ever read the book "Decent into Madness", the story of Micheal Oros (aka Sheslay Free Mike)? He was a draft dodger from the US that ended up living in NW BC in the wilderness for 13 some years...he learned how to survive in the wilderness but the lack of human contact over the years was not something he could master...

5:06 a.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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Preparation and experience are key. I'm doing this very thing in three and a half years. (When my Jeep's payed for.) I'll drive out (with my Boler along for the ride) near to where I'll be living "off the grid". Sell the Jeep for $7000 to $8000, stick the egg (Boler) onto a local persons barge and have it hauled even closer to where I'll be living. Then, over the course of several days (or weeks), hand winch the trailer the last few thousand feet inland. (It's only 13' long by 6'6" wide by 7' tall.) The $7000 - $8000 for the Jeep, and the ~$6000+ from three years of vacation pay hoarding, plus the $2000 - $3000 left-over sick pay from the 3&1/2 years (Not impossible. I've used less than 10 sick days in the last 8 years.) will give me a very nice $15,000 - $17,000 cushion for anything I may need for the first few years as I build up my practical experience with what my particular land has to offer. And experience in many disparate areas is vital. Having ADVANCED first aid training is paramount. Having first aid supplies beyond the normal. Antibiotics. (Injectable and oral.) Epinephrine... etc. Even knowing how to properly chop and split wood. It may sound stupid, but I've seen and done some stupid things with an axe over the years. As a teenager I once stuck an Eastwing axe between my heel and the heel cup INSIDE the boot I was wearing at the time, missing my foot by THIS -> <- much. Another time, (Same boot, same axe, different trip.) I split the boot open from the toe of the boot to the tongue, missing my foot by THAT -><- much. Doing something like that on a camping trip is dangerous. Doing something like that when your out on your own can be deadly.

Things that I have in my favour: My housing needs are taken care of already with the most beautifully renovated Boler in existence. (I'd be more modest, but it would be false modesty.) I'll use the Boler until I've finished taking a couple of years selecting, cutting, drying, and assembling logs into a house. I already have more than half of the tools needed to construct a log home. Several axes, several saws, a couple adzes, a couple draw knives, a log scribe, a couple log dogs, a hand drill, and a 10,000 pound hand winch. I'm missing a log roller, a peavey, a carrier, and a debarker. My electrical needs are already taken care of with two 175 watt solar panels, two deep cycle batteries and a 700 watt inverter. If needed, I can build and add a microturbine to the setup. My heating of the Boler will be taken care of with the aid of the worlds smallest wood burning stove from marinestove.com (Being installed this winter) The two largest expenses will be the windows and the full size stove for the cabin. I'm blessed also in the fact that I'm receiving training on how to work a farm, including crops and small livestock. When I get to where I'm going, I plan on growing as much of my food as possible. With the exception of chickens for eggs, and fish for meat. That'll come from the sea. There's a saying in the area that I'm heading. "When the tide is out, the table is set." And I LOVE seafood. A couple of nets... high and low tide... Dinner!

Now, those are merely the physical demands. The psychological ones for those unprepared are enormous. Boredom, loneliness, depression, anxiety, paranoia... Now, I have an added advantage in that I'll be living on an inlet that receives a fair amount of kayakers and pleasure craft operators going by. (1/2 dozen per month or so.) So I'll not be completely alone the entire time. (unless I feel like it. My house location choice is on the other side of a ridge from the inlet. So, I won't have to see, hear, or interact with anyone if I don't feel like it.)

Anyhoo... Just my two cents. Good luck with your dream!

Man! after all this typing, I hope that the thread starter wasn't a troll!

7:37 a.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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Thanks for all of the advice everyone. I appreciate the caution and the support from all of you. I have been preparing for this adventure for years and have read every survival book I can put my hands on. All of the advice Bill gave was awesome and only confirms what I already had planned. When I do finally go for it I will be well prepared and outfitted.

9:44 a.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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You might want to set up a hydraulic ram pump for your water delivery... and supplemental electricity generation as well. You could also buy old DC motors to act as generators and scatter then around your property. Anchor a motor well, tie one end of a low-stretch cable to a treetop that gets wind... you can guess the rest. Anything that turns your crank will give you power. :)

The best of luck.

9:50 a.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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One further note:
Have you looked at vertical log construction rather than horizontal logs? The vertical logs are much easier for one person to handle (shorter, ergo, lighter), are easier to find (short straight logs are more common than long straight logs), provide a stronger building (each log is a column), and don't have the settling problem of horizontal logs (logs don't shrink in length).

Just a thought from experience. YMMV

9:58 a.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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I have plenty to say and I am not speechless or overwhelmed by the responses (Otto). I simply have been without internet for the last few days do to construction in my neighborhood. It's only the fifth time they have cut my cable in the last two weeks... ugggggghhh!! I have really enjoyed reading all of the posts and plan to take everyone's advice very seriously. I realize that what I propose is very dangerous and will be very trying, but the bottom line is that I believe I can do it. If it turns out that I can't handle it I will deal with the matter then (contingency plan). I have been accumulating supplies, but I have still not set a date as to when this journey will begin. I plan to do a few practice trips to see how I will deal with the lonliness factor. I will let you all know how they turn out!

5:13 p.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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Hi Rucker28, May I suggest taking a strong & sturdy woman to help with the chores and to keep you company.

Okay ladies,...it's just a joke. (But it might work)
Then again, Rucker, you might get put out of the cabin.

I lived on one of our local islands a while back for three months.
I received re-supply from a couple of the crab fishermen I know. They would come by and hang out briefly when bringing me supplies.
I had a cell phone for emergencies.
I had plenty of food, plus fishing gear. So that's really not what you are talking about, but I did learn a lot about myself and all the little things you only learn by actually doing something.

However, exposure to the elements & boredom did finally start to take their toll and my body felt like one large insect bite at times. I ended up getting to know my neighbors (raccoons) quite well. I started leaving food out for them every night so I would have some company, and some entertainment.
Oh, and the mayfly swarms that covered the island during wind storms was fierce, if you stayed outside your shelter they would cover every square inch of your body as they tried to find something to cling to during the high winds.
They were on everything in sight. I'm pretty sure I swallowed a couple.
Anyway, I think practice trips are a good idea. My stay on the island was far from perfect, but I'm glad I did it and next time I will be more experienced & prepared. Next time I want to plant a small garden to help pass the time and help with the boredom. Maybe a canoe also for exploring the other islands.

Good luck to you.

7:58 p.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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Hi overmywaders! Where I'll be living is right next to a permanent stream with about 100 vertical feet of drop over a 100 foot span. There are several very still pools partway down that would be ideal for a gravity powered water delivery system. As a bonus, I can use the same line for my water supply and a micro-turbine / micro-generator, since I'd only be using the water for chores and clean-up maybe 0.1% of each day, the rest of the time the power generation would be unaffected. And the output water from the generator would be used for a water fountain / water feature in front of the trailer / cabin. Love it! I had thought of wind power generation, but the endless supply of fast moving water at my site negated that need. For the actual electrical generation, I'll be scouring the junkyards in my area for wrecked heavy duty trucks or tricked out 4x4's with overabundant lighting systems. Eventually I'll find a couple of decent high output alternators for 1/10 - 1/4 the cost of one new standard alternator.

Funny you should mention vertical log construction. About a half dozen years ago, myself and a friend of mine were building a garden shed out some small cedar trunks about 6" to 12" in diameter. And 10 to 20 feet in length. As a foundation we used some leftover century stone from some work he did ealier. We at first built it using the logs in a vertical position because we were too lazy to scribe and notch the logs. It drove me CrAaaZy! After two days of looking at it I began taking it apart so I could do it the "right" way. With a warning from my friend that if I wanted to redo it, "go right ahead. I'll see ya later!" So, I got to find out just how much... um... uhhh... hmmmm... Ah! patience is needed for such an undertaking. Even for a 10' x 15' shed. But, it looks SOOOO much better! IMHO! Plus, horizontal log construction is SOOOO much more stable without having to cross-brace every corner and structural upright. (Even with the bracing the first shed was way less sturdy than the horizontally constructed one.) And nowdays, most areas require that when you build a home with horizontal logs, all of the logs have to be linked together with a piece of threaded rod that starts in the foundation, passes through all of the logs to the top log, and then torqued down. Depending on the wall length you may have to use two or three or more per wall side. But again, this just makes horizontal log construction the strongest and safest method. Which... I don't mind! For the settling and shrinking, the rods are again quite useful. As the logs dry and shrink, you just tighten down the nuts on the top logs. Snugging everything back together. I'll also be using a product called Permachink for the chinking. I'm not so gung-ho about using only natural or "authentic" products for my log home construction. If what we have now is VASTLY superior, (not just a little better but WAY better) then I'll spend the extra few hundred dollars and get the best of the best. Allowing me to spend less time maintaining my abode in the future, and more time enjoying the beauty of my locale.

Righty then! I think I've done enough thread highjacking for now.


9:26 p.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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Not to rain on your parade, but, the way to build a log structure is to DRY your logs BEFORE you commence contstruction......

Much of what is posted here reminds me very much of the "draft dodgers" who flooded into BC when I was in my early 20s. As I posted, these folks also pretty much went back to the USA when "President Peanut" issued their pardon and the ludicrous "back to the land" fad burned out.

Living, ESPECIALLY alone, in any truely remote area and depending on your own efforts for all of your sustenance is BRUTALLY hard work and requires skills and a level of discipline that very few contemporary people have. I enjoyed my years at it, but, my stints were only several months long and in summer.

I have lived in the BC mountains in winter and with no electricity, running water and with only wood I cut for heat.....not as "cool" after the first real cold snap as you might think it is.

Well, makes for good 'net chatter, anyway! Good luck!

9:30 p.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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Oh, before I forget, "wet" logs will WARP so that your technique of using "ready rod" to stabilize your wall stacks will not work. This is a poor way to build a good log house and I would never do this as it will introduce damp into your stack and thus initiate decay....NOT cool.

Get a copy of B.Allen Mackie's book on log building, he is another B.C. boy who grew up in the bush and he knows his stuff.

1:43 a.m. on December 24, 2008 (EST)
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99 forum posts

Heyya guys! Hi Kutenay! In my first post I mentioned that I would be spending 3 years selecting cutting drying and assembling the logs. I'll expand a bit on that... A few months selecting and cutting, a couple years drying, and a few months assembling. I'm in no rush. The ready rod isn't my idea. It's just part of building code in many areas. I definately won't be attempting to live off the land exclusively. For the first couple of years I will definately be relying on an inordinate amount of canned foods (there's a "town" with a geneal store about 25 miles away by boat) as I learn, TRULY learn what is doable, what isn't. What is practical, what isn't. And what natural resources are truly available in my immediate area. It's all well and good for me to say that I'll be getting most of my meat from the sea in the way of fish. But the spot I have may not be the most ideal for fishing or gill netting or tidal pool trapping. That's something I can only learn through intimate knowledge of the area. Which is why I'm planning on having to rely on canned foods for the first couple of years, to allow me to learn what I need to learn instead of attempting to immediately rely on incomplete knowledge. I know that it's not going to be remotely easy, and there will be times I'm sure, that I'll be so lonely that I'll feel like crying, but, I have discovered over the years that doing something INTERESTING can make all the difference in the world. And interesting for me, is spending several years first cutting the wood for the cabin, then while the wood dries, preparing the land for the cabin by clearing a footprint for the foundation, building the foundation from riverstone, building the chimney from the same stone. Then, getting to work on preparing what land I'll have set aside for agriculture. One marvelous thing about where I'm going is that it only goes below freezing less than 1/2 dozen times per year. Of course that pleasantness is dampened a bit by the fact that during the winter the area gets like 10 feet of rain. Having a one piece, solid fiberglass trailer with a teeny tiny wood burning stove in it will make all the difference in the world for me, since I won't have to spend one instant of my time ever worrying about my accomodations for the first few years. It's tiny it's cute, it's weather-proof, it's heatable with a 3500BTU to 7500BTU wood burning stove that has a fire chamber 6" x 6" x 9". It burns 6 hours+ on one load of wood. My firewood needs for the first few years are gonna be... tiny!

It won't be a walk in the park, but I do have three and half more years to prepare.

Thanks for hearing me out guys.
Thanks to Rucker28 for letting me highjack his thread!

Later all!

June 23, 2018
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