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Alone Season 2

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by Chignecto Woodsman, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. Larcivs Lepidvs

    Larcivs Lepidvs

    May 24, 2013
    they're basically instructing us how to lose one of your basic tools on the field. :D
  2. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    Aug 2, 2014
    Perhaps she 'exaggerated' may mean the time she spent off-grid and fighting forest fires. I don't know, and it can be a weird thing to speculate on, but she did look as though very little use of an axe ever occurred.

    A big problem with 'Survival Instructors' today is the Reality TV and Youtube aspect of it. How many of these respected bushcrafters are using edited footage to promote themselves and make money off of sleek videos rather than actual skills? It seems from comments that most do edit their footage and rarely show mistakes. Basically anyone can go out for a day hike, grab some various footage and edit it to make themselves look like experts. If one were out there with them the whole time though we might see that they are in the novice category in many of the attributes of survival. "Alone" basically proves this to be true as we see very few of them at a level of comfort that would suggest extensive time in the woods and the mindset that goes along with testing oneself.

    I would say that David, Mike, Justin, Tracy, and Jose seem the most comfortable out there and have the mindset of people who have done this - truly being able to call themselves 'Survival Experts' or "Survival Experts In Training' (no offense to them intended, but I suspect they mostly fit the 'in training' category). Having a survival school or being a survival instructor doesn't really tell us anything, as there is no real system of credentials for this, and many survival instructors would be at a school to focus on specific areas of expertise rather than survival as a whole.

    Again, this isn't meant as disrespect at all, I'm no expert either. I just mean to say that we should consider an aspect of what might be called the 'survival division of labour' to keep a realistic outlook on these people. Some may lack skills, or lack skills in certain areas; or they may just run into a bit of unlucky environmental circumstances which show that testing survival and real survival are not the same thing.

    However, there is a system available to test the extent of one's survival knowledge and suitability for instruction. Mors Kochanski's "Grand Syllabus" is probably the best example, and may be the only true system out there to guide one's knowledge and skills path. A true survival expert would have to know all of the skills in that book and have thoroughly tested them in various situations and environments.

    When we compare survival experts to the ideal set out in such a book we see that most will be lacking in certain areas. It seems to me that clothing, shelter, and axe work are the areas most lacking for the most people. I think this is largely due to the shift in technology and the amount of time spent out in the wilderness. Frankly, people do not spend nearly as long out on trips as they used to. I think this, again, is proven in the show "Alone". The fact that people are homesick within hours or days suggests how infrequently people are out on long trips, or that their trips are taken in convenient areas where technology keeps them in contact. High-tech clothing prevents any real understanding of clothing and the care necessary over long trips. And similarly, tools are now geared less towards skill and necessity than convenience within camp.

    An example. No one really needs to baton, but it looks really good on camera to have an aesthetically pleasing fire. Never mind that it is inefficient, low-skill, and disproportionate with the true necessity of fire - it looks good on a screen! And never mind that one could be better using their time to improve their axe or knife skills - it's what everyone is doing!

    Understanding your clothing, shelter, water collection, and tool techniques comes before fire in real survival importance. But due to the skewed understanding of spectacle bushcraft (spectaclecraft?) everyone believes fire-lighting is much more important than it is and so they focus on it rather the primary needs which would lessen the dependence on fire anyways. It is a vicious circle because the lack of fire then compounds all of the improper knowledge regarding clothing, shelter, water collection, and tool use. The potential for error increases as the individuals realise they had all along been focusing on the wrong things. Or in other words, once their fire-lighting technology is gone they realize that their understanding of primary survival tools come up short.

    You lost your firesteel? So what? You should already be dry and have enough clothing/shelter to keep you warm. It's raining out and you should have had your shelter set up to assist with water collection, or a second tarp to collect it. You should have been using your tools to prepare a continuous fire and backup such as tinder fungus or char. What is the first thing one does when going on an extended trip? Ensure they have enough supplies and that the loss of a supply does not result in a survival scenario. One should not wait until they break an axe handle to create an axe handle, they rough one out asap. Similarly, one should not wait until they lose a firesteel to come up with a plan - they should immediately secure a backup. Not allowed to take a lanyard? Then find one, make one, or come up with a compromise. Setting a blank down on the ground should never have been an option in the first place.

    Similarly, one should not wait until they encounter a bear before looking for a means of defense. Get your bat and spears made beforehand, carry the axe with you. And this may be the biggest reason for a continuous fire, a good shelter and a continuous fire creates a significant barrier between you and predators. In many cases, especially lean-tos, fire is part of the shelter and should be treated as such. I think that in a survival situation it would be a good idea to treat fire as many indigenous people did during sacred events: keep it going for the entirety of the event, if the fire goes out you are testing the gods.

    Lighting and establishing a fire is much more time-consuming than keeping a fire going, and in survival you are opening yourself up to the chance of losing the fire permanently. As such, the ability to keep a fire going is more important than being able to hold onto a firesteel, especially in trying conditions.

    This brings us back to tool choice. I think that the axe is one of the items that one must take, but even if it is not, it is the number one tool and one would generally take it regardless of knowledge. The tool, however, is rendered useless if one does not know how to use it - a void is left in its place, making survival that much more unlikely. In true survival there is no 'two is one', there is only the knowledge you have and the humility to understand that nature can take that last tool from you at any time.
  3. pict


    Jan 7, 2003
    The other day i was watching episode 2 and my 7 year old nephew read the opening screen and said (all wide eyed) "Uncle Mac... you're TRAINED? and...and...you're an EXPERT?!" Know and understand, i have never called myself an expert at survival. That lable comes with the show intro. That and the adviso, don't try this at home. Actually much of what we do should be first attempted at home. That warning should read, "Don't go off alone into the wilderness and get yourself into serious trouble."

    I started getting into wilderness survival and bushcraft about 35 years ago and that has remained a constant in my life ever since. I taught wilderness survival for ten years in Brazil in two venues. Per Ardua was a wilderness ministry that used the basics of wilderness survival as a leadership training and devlopment tool. At Mestre do Mato we taught basic, intermediate, and advanced (machete only) survival to paying customers. I am by no means a global "expert" in all climates. Central Brazil offered both rainforest and near desert conditions as well as 6000 ft mountains with their own ecosystem, it was a very diverse area to practice. I grew up in the mountains of east/central PA. In places where I have lived and worked I have much to teach. Outside of those areas I am a student. That was tghe experience base I took to VCI. You will have to continue watching to see how far it got me.
  4. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    David, I do have questions I think you can answer that won't be spoilers.
    1. How long did you know, after you were chosen, where the contest was to take place?
    2. During that time span, before the training/orientation session, did you do research on the flora and fauna of the location?
    3. Did you know the location when you chose your equipment list?
    4. During that period, did you practice any skills you thought would be specific to that location?
  5. panzertroop


    Aug 8, 2008
    The filming is a huge distraction. I stared making youtube videos for fun and as a creative outlet. I can tell you when you are out alone trying to film a wilderness skill it becomes a big pain in the butt. Your mind is on the content and talking to the camera, not concentrating on the chore at hand. Its very easy to mess up and loose your focus. I think this and hunger plays a major factor in the flubs and tap outs. At home doing the skills with a full belly and no camera to worry about you can be the terminator (focused and strong).
  6. sams


    Apr 21, 2001
    It is amazing how smart and strong I am sitting on the couch watching tv. :)
  7. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    If one has never done anything similar, I can see how this might be true. But are you saying this thread should be closed because we aren't participants in the show? I think we can learn a lot from discussing it with questions and answers. Otherwise we might as well close the entire sub-forum!
  8. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    Excellent points here. And one factor I personally have never had to contend with. I watched a youtube critique where the author made this point. And I understand that the videography is a requirement of participation. Otherwise no show. But becoming target fixated is a bugaboo that is familiar. "Buck fever" it was called back in the day.

    Some of the contestants seem to really be "into" the situation they are in and in spite of the camera stuff meld with the environment better than others. But less than a couple of weeks in, some seem homesick, their minds back home. "Mommy! Mommy!" This does not bode well for them IMHO. Daydreaming disrupts the concentration it takes to survive. And leads to avoidable mistakes.
  9. BillyJoeBobJim


    Jun 14, 2007

    Thanks for what appears to be some light-hearted jesting along with a smiley. :)
  10. oneriver

    oneriver Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 20, 2012
    I love sitting on the couch criticizing them, yelling at the TV, eating a hot dog and drinking a root beer. I'm the best dam survivalist I know. I jumped when that lady while jabbering on about family life cut her hand open while trying to split kilning with the ax, she was not concentrating on the task at hand, no pun intended. Some of those folks I'm sure were picked for entertainment value only.
  11. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Hotboxing the episodes is expected. As long as done in a respectful manner.

    For sure I"m sitting on a couch with a beer or ice cream in hand while watching a contestant fry up some slugs.

    For sure I"m saying I can't believe you just did that when they make a mistake.

    And for sure I'm making notes on why I should dummy cord my lighter or keep my hands away from moving parts and sharp objects.

    I don't ever plan to move into the wild and live alone.

    I do spend a lot of my weekends in rough bush that's more than walking distance from home. One washed out road or other mishap and I"m a contestant in my very own episode so I'm going to keep watching and I"ll tip my hat to anyone who gets on the show. Even if the only last a day they've shown something I can learn from.
  12. pict


    Jan 7, 2003
    1. We knew it was VCI at bootcamp in NY.
    2. I researched heavily between bootcamp and arrival on the island. We all did.
    3. I chose my gear with VCI in mind and after watching season one once.
    4. Yes I practiced a new skill but won't share it as it would be a spoiler.

    The filming does add a serious layer of difficulty to everything we did out there. You do get good at it, but it is also very easy to fall into a limited habit of shooting the same way. There are times the survival take precidence over the filming. Keep in mnd we shot hours of videop a day. They picked my story up at day 6. I had shot at least four hours of video a day in those six days so you are really only seeing a tiny slice of what went on that week. That is the case for all of us. People focus on what the episode showed. Just look at Randy's camp. Yes, he lost his firesteel, but in the midst of a rockin' camp and a week of very professional performance. The fact is they can't show everyting we did. I saw one commenter dismiss me for only putting out four hooks. You saw one trotline with four of my hooks on it and a serious example of what my cove did to unattended hooks left overnight. I had a kelp forest with heavy surf at times. Do the math.
  13. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    It's great to have folks like pict in these threads too; kind of a bummer their colour commentary is embargoed during the show run.
  14. Captain Airyca

    Captain Airyca

    Jan 23, 2011
    Man, I do know one thing I learned is that I'm adding neon paracord straps on all of my woods tools and goodies!

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
  15. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    Thankyou! I take it from your explanation then that what we are seeing is precisely what the director/editor wishes us to see of each participant, no more and no less. And that possibly a different director might give us an entirely different perspective of the individuals' skills and actions. And he/they did it after the actual episode ended thus with foreknowledge of the final outcome for all participants.

    I understand husbanding resources like the fish hooks given the challenges of tide and kelp etc. But I also know how to build fish traps and make fish hooks. I am hoping that the participants who lost their fire steels succeed in making friction fire. IMHO it is a very basic survival skill, though made difficult by that wet environment. I have been skunked on fire making myself when it was quite important. And we know it can be done in several different ways as aboriginal cultures show us even today.

    As for myself, I don't dismiss any of the participants but the one who didn't even try. And I have to wonder what was really behind that. Was it really the presence of bears and the "what have I gotten myself into" mode?

    Again, easy to say what we would do from our computers (I don't sit on a couch and drink beer and eat ice cream... makes my stomach churn just thinking about that), but I would be picking apart the bear poop with a stick to see what they found there to eat. I make no claims as to being a survival expert. And I am learning from the banter here.

    Unfortunately I don't watch TV and have only been able to see portions of the episodes online. On the History Channel there is double the time spent on commercials that is spent on the actual show and my computer boots before I can watch far. Restarting just makes me watch the same scenes and commercials all over again.And having spent six decades outdoors, much of it ALONE, I do find the show's premise interesting. Were I still in my twenties, thirties, forties or even fifties I would be chomping at the bit to enter myself. For the challenge, not the possible big payday or notoriety.
  16. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Try watching in another browser re the commercial/issue and also try changing the playback quality.

    Sometimes this goes to your ISP throttling the pipe. They want customers just watching their streamed shows/advertising.
  17. Captain Airyca

    Captain Airyca

    Jan 23, 2011
    I watch Alone in the Chrome browser with an ad blocker extension installed. The ads are insane and I won't put up with it.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
  18. sams


    Apr 21, 2001
    Bingo someone got it, Just adding humor, nothing wrong with that I think.
    I never get too wrapped up in the program.
  19. pict


    Jan 7, 2003
    The editors have to make choices. If ten people shoot 4 hours of video, that is 40 hours of footage PER DAY and we did that seven days a week. It is common that a 45 minute TV episode is backed up by over 40 hours of raw footage. I would guesstimate that episode 1 of Alone was drawn from 200 hours at least. Imagine working a week of double shifts and then letting the world see a total of five selected minutes of that week from which to form an opinion of how good a worker you are, and you don't get to choose the clips.

    Speculating on how you would handle the problem is a huge part of why people engage with the show. Have at it. That's why we did it. For the people watching at home it is almost impossible to factor in the energy drain of starvation. For me, days 2 and 3 came with a screaming headache that I had to push through. It seems to me that many people take the very best of what they know about the area and create a fantasy scene in which all of those good things are right there at their fingertips and they are always on top of their game. Another thing nobody seems to realize is how hard it is to move through the forest there.

    It absolutely kills me when people compare our situation with the First Nations people who lived in the area. They lived in a well organized community in Cedar plank houses and had a well developed infrastructure and pattern of life that allowed communal harvesting and preservation of food. They were very far removed from a simple hunter/gatherer society living off the land. They viewed what we were doing as extreme hardship and used the experience as a rite of passage for their own young men to show them how hard it is to not be part of the community.
  20. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    It would be interesting to see an "offseason" remix of the videos. Perhaps each episode concentrating on only one contestant and with a view of showing more of the individual skills employed.

    For clarification, my own mention of aboriginals was mostly in regard to fire starting methods which vary greatly worldwide. And even societies like the people on the island used hunting and fishing parties which ventured out from their settlements for extended periods? Even without the element of social structure, there is a lot to be learned from the various skills, such as have been preserved.

    Lacking the ability to watch the videos complete, I've begun reviewing what I can find online of last year's episodes including after the fact interviews. The previous winner lasted 56 days and lost 60 pounds of body weight. Most speak of starvation. This is difficult for me to comprehend based on my admittedly sparse variety of environments. Even during the lean part of the years. Understanding the diets were mostly of low calorie gleanings, it would seem that one would have to make up for that with volume. Thus the advantage of the gill net, an essentially a passive gathering technique, though allowing for a degree of maintenance required. I saw where one last year made an upstream trip to fish for salmon spawning. I would think a well made and placed fish trap would be pretty productive though it would require one to leave their assigned campsite for extended periods on a fairly regular basis. And have to slog a lot of dead weight gear like the photography equipment which produces nothing of value survival wise other than to keep one in the game by following the rules (which I at least have not seen).

    Back to firestarting for a moment, I know you can't speak for the other contestants, but did the thought cross your mind that you had batteries that are very capable of firestarting without damaging them? Is that a technique you have in your skillset or peripheral knowledge that you would have experimented with had you had the need? Or were their restrictions on use of components of the video equipment and lack of other batteries?

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