On this episode of “Man Woman Wild” Ruth and Myke are lost deep in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. They face hungry black bears on this mission. They are in the Southern end of Appalachian Mountains from Tennessee. The bluish smoke like haze coming from the mountains is the reason why they were given the name “smoky mountains.” It is very important to show how to survive in these mountains because over 1100 people end up missing every year in the Smoky Mountains.
Plan of Action
Ruth and Myke plan to stay close to where they got lost. It is best not to move too far from where you got lost because there is a better chance of someone finding you if you don’t go too deep into the woods. They look for protective clothing in their hiking bag. They find a shirt, a first aid kit, camera and a trash bag with paper plates, a used tin can and plastic goods inside. They hold on to these because they will come in handy for survival.
Making Spears for Protection
They look for branches and make sharp points on them for spears. They already find some water but need to make a shelter close to where they got lost while the wait for rescue. They are also wild bore that run in packs and coyotes so they need a fire to ward them off.
What to do if threatened by a bear.
1. Don’t look the bear straight in the eye. They see that as a threat!
2. Don’t run or the bear will think you are prey
3. Put your arms in the air waving them and make loud noises
4. Back away slowly
5. If the bear does not retreat then use your spear and aim for the neck, eyes or face.
Myke lived in Kentucky
The fact that Myke lived in Kentucky which will come in handy for their survival. In the Smoky mountains there are fairly rugged hemlock trees that grow to 150 feet tall. The weather is very changeable. During the day it is hot and humid and then at night it drops down to 40 degrees. They need to stay dry so that when night fall comes they won’t end up with hypothermia. Surviving is about little victories. The next priority is to make a fire to protect them from animals.
Clever way to start a fire
They stumble upon a clearing which is a real victory and use it for their camp site and fire. In this humid country wood sitting on the ground is obviously too wet to start a fire. They look in thick brush and underneath trees to find dry brush. Myke has a unique way of starting a fire! In his old army first aide kit he has Potassium permanganate and Glycerin which when mixed together half and half cause a chemical combustion and start burning. First they put the tinder in their fire pit and then pour equal parts Potassium permanganate and equal parts Glycerin over it. The potassium can also be used to treat the drinking water and kill fungal and yeast infections which are prevalent in humid conditions.
Myke uses the can from the trash bag to boil the water that he gathers from the creek. It is best to try to find water from a place where the water is flowing. Actually the water that he gathered was from a stream and the fact that they are up so high up hill means that they don’t really have to boil it. However, they do boil it for extra protection. Ruth is off gathering more fire wood.
Gathering poles for their Teepee shelter.
They make an Indian Tee pee by first tying all the gathered sticks together at one end and then placing them on the ground with tied ends up. This way when they spread the sticks out it creates tension which is needed for strength. Myke is able to hoist himself to the top of the teepee to prove that it is sturdy. The lower you make your shelter the warmer it is. They put their trash bag on the top of their teepee to make it water proof. They will bring their fire inside the teepee when it gets cold at night. Trash bags can also be used to store food away from the shelter. They use Pine needles for bedding because it keeps the bugs away.
Ruth Spots bear poo
After they are just about done with their shelter Ruth spots bear poo. Myke says “The good news is that it is not fresh but the bad news is that this means bears are around here.” They are near the end of their first day but Ruth is not happy about the massive bear poo she discovered. They use large leaves to finish the outer covering of their shelter. It takes a lot of layers to get a water proof shelter.
Ruth says “If it weren’t for the ticks, mosquitoes and bears this would be fun!” Myke chuckles at that statement! Ruth can’t sleep through the night due to thoughts of the bear or a snake snuggling next to her in the night.
Morning of day two
Myke goes out to look for food with his helmet cam so that he can go by himself without the camera crew. The best time to hunt is early in the morning because the night dwellers are headed home and the day critters are out running. He must be quite, watch where he puts his feet and be careful not to make any crunching sounds. Myke spots a game trail. They may end up having to use this little stream to find the way out. He finds a box turtle but won’t bring it back for breakfast because Ruth has a soft spot for turtles.
Settling for Bear Corn
Since Myke knows what to forage for and they can’t find meat they go out to forage for their supper. Myke spots “bear corn” which looks like corn growing up out of bear poo. Bear corn is the local black bears food. Bears get 85% of their diet from plants. Myke and Ruth roast the bear corn on their fire and Ruth says it taste like pomegranate but Myke says it taste like corn.
The importance of sleep in a survival situation
The underappreciated part of survival is that you must get enough sleep so that you can think clearly. If you don’t sleep well at night then you must take a nap. So they take a nap to get their heads straight. Myke says they call it GGPNT “Green Berets’ Power Nap Time”
After their nap they go down to the stream to look for salamander which can be found under some rocks. They spot a cray fish and start to collect more. They end up eating salamanders and cray fish for dinner.
Myke chops off the head of the salamander but they still wiggle. Ruth exclaims, “They are headless wriggling creatures!” Myke takes the guts out and says that you need to gut them to decrease the chances of Ecoli. They cook them on wooden skewers. Salamanders have poison in their skin but the small ones are OK to eat. Ruth says they taste Ok. She pulls the poo section out of the crawfish after it is cooked and that makes her happier.
Second night and no one is looking for them
They decide to follow the creek the next morning and walk down. It will lead to a bigger creek then to a bigger river which eventually leads to people. They use the stream as a road map. It is likely they will encounter some sort of civilization when the terrain is lower. They must move slow and choose their footing well.
Heaven’s field of berries
After a little while they find a clearing where an old farm once was which means they are nearing civilization and they spot an apple tree. They collect apples to load up on and take a break from their hiking. Apparently this old farm has old trees still bearing fruit. They spot bright red, beautiful, ripe strawberries. Ruth says it is like walking into heaven with this big field. Myke says “There are no poisonous plants that resemble the strawberries so if you are lucky enough to find them, chow down.”
They are interrupted by a bear while eating the strawberries. The bear takes one look at them and just keeps going on its way. Running into the bear is a bit scary and if don’t get to civilization soon, they must set up camp. They have to go through a thick patch of trees and then they spot a cabin. There are plenty of people who love to make moonshine so they make sure that it is known they are here. It appears to be an abandoned shack so they end up spending the night there.
The next morning they continue to follow the creek downwards and find a waterfall they must go around to get to civilization. They hear music and spot people singing on the cabin porch. They are finally home safe! Many others have been rescued this way by local residents!
Resource: The Discovery Channel on TV
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