Stay with the vehicle

Fascinating story out of Nevada. A Canadian couple got their van stuck in the middle of nowhere and the husband left to find help. They still havent found him yet. The wife stayed in the vehicle and survived, barely, almost seven weeks.

Rita Chretien, who vanished with husband in March, found in Nevada wilderness; husband still missing
Rita Chretien’s 49 days in the wilderness amaze survival experts
Not just Rita Chretien beat the odds: three other women’s stories of surviving the wilderness
Rita Chretien, Missing Canadian Woman, Found Alive In Nevada After 49 Days In Wilderness, Search For Husband Resumes

I’m going to say that the odds of finding the husband alive are absolutely nil. In fact, I’ll be surprised if they find a body within the next few weeks. Probably be one of those cases where they have to wait until hunting season when some hunter finds it. (Thats how quite a few small plane crashes are found.)

I was actually repacking my emergency bag (which is really a large backpack, for the sake of convenience) the other night and while there isnt enough food in there to get me through seven weeks of being stuck, there is enough in there to help keep me from having to stay trapped….parachute flares, for example. One article makes mention of a new GPS and the implication, although it isnt explored, is that the couple followed their GPS blindly and it led them onto the Road From Hell. This is similar to what happened in the Kim misadventure, although the Kims problem included reading a map without noting the warning about road closures. This epic fail was glossed over as the family then blamed everyone except, naturally, the guy who actually misread the map and got his family into the mess.

Several amazingly important lessons to be had here:
1) In the age of internet, satellites, and people everywhere you go you can still get stuck on a road somewhere and not see another human for almost two months
2) Pack emergency gear. Im adding another couple parachute flares and some more freeze drieds to my pack.
3) Stay. With. The. Vehicle.

That last part cannot be emphasized enough. People who survive these situations almost invariably do better when they stay with the vehicle. There are a few exceptions, but as a rule your chances of being found are much better if you stay with the vehicle. And, if you trick out your vehicle with a few niceties like a sleeping bag, water, stash of food and that sort of thing you may wind up becoming three inches of column space in a human interest section of the paper rather than eight inches of column space about a horrific starvation episode. (Montana guy, a few years back, was found after he and his dog had to spend a couple weeks stuck somewhere. He was fine, dog was fine. Why? He basically had a full complement of camping and survival gear in the back of his truck. He may have gotten a wee bit hungry but he didnt have to eat his dog and they didnt wind up having to put him on the Dachau diet recovery feeding program. [Yeah, if you feed a starving person like they were a normal person they tend to die. You actually have to give them starvation-level quantities of food in slightly increasing amounts to bring them back to the point where they can eat something without the sudden shock killing them. A lot of concentration camp victims died when horrified GI's gave them their rations to eat. They meant well, but....])

I’ve got five gallons of water, five gallons of gas, a backpack full of essentials, in the truck, along with a headfull of preparedness info and an attitude of caution, and I still won’t go out driving if the weather looks bad. Why buy trouble? But if I got stuck on a logging road somewhere you can bloody well believe that I’d have no qualms about staying put and riding it out. Thats why I carry a backpack full of gear in the truck. It’s also why I dont blindly trust a map or GPS.

Archives: A similar post about another guy who got stuck

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