Thursday, March 29, 2018


I've always figured I'd be prepared for just about any type of disaster, but I realize now I've been foolishly deceiving myself. I guess that's just been the bulletproof over-confidence of youth. In reality, it would be catastrophically devastating.

There are very few people in this country that would be properly prepared and provisioned. Just think about it. Our society has become so dependent upon electricity in nearly every aspect of our lives, and we take it for granted it will always be there. In reality, a power outage of more than a week or two would bring us to our knees as a nation.

I recently read an archived National Geographic article released October 25, 2013:  ’American Blackout’: Four Major Real-Life Threats to the Electric Grid. It is quite scary how easily this disaster could become reality.
The four major potential causes of a power grid failure are:

Cyber Attack
EMP (electromagnetic impulse) Attack
Solar Flare
Grid Failure

Here are a couple excerpts from this informative read:

"As a May 2013 Congressional report noted, sophisticated cyber saboteurs may already be probing our vulnerability to a massive blackout. U.S. utility companies already come under frequent attack from Internet hackers who continually try to infect utilities’ computer networks with malware and search for security flaws. One company alone told congressional investigators that it was hit with an astonishing 10,000 attacks in a typical month."

 terrorists or an enemy nation would detonate a nuclear weapon at a high altitude above the U.S., releasing a burst of radiation that would interact with the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere—including the ionosphere, the thin upper layer filled with free electrons, which facilitates radio communications. As a result, a powerful electrical current would radiate down to the Earth and create additional currents that would course through manmade electrical circuits as well. Electrical infrastructure and electronic devices would receive severe shocks, causing severe, widespread damage. A 2004 Congressional Commission report warned that such an attack could cause “unprecedented cascading failures.”

Yousef Butt, a scientist at Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University, argued in a 2010 article in the online journal Space Review that the likelihood of a devastating EMP from a solar storm is greater than that from an intentional EMP attack.

There is a good possibility that the electric grid could break down on its own.
That’s because of a crucial design flaw: when one part of the grid breaks down, it can cause a phenomenon called “cascading failure,” in which the whole grid progressively collapses like a stack of dominoes. “What happens is, a failure occurs somewhere and weakens the system a bit,” Iowa State University engineering professor Ian Dobson explained in a 2010 article. “On a bad day, something else happens. Usually, it doesn’t, but on that day, let’s say it does. If it’s a really bad day, then a third thing happens and the system becomes degraded. You’re in a situation where it’s more likely that the next failure is going to happen because the last failure already happened. That’s the idea of cascading failure…Everything in the power system is protected so it doesn’t fry when something goes wrong. Things can disconnect to protect the equipment, but if you disconnect enough things, you get a blackout.

In an article published in Nature Physics in August 2013, U.S. and Israeli physicists concluded that for a system dependent upon a number of critical nodes, such as the U.S. electrical grid, such cascading failures are pretty much inevitable.

This is scary stuff, folks; especially for anyone living in a metropolitan area, but those of us in rural areas will take a hit too. While many of us rural folks will be able to harvest, gather, or grow food, we will be forced to revert back to horses for transportation, because nobody will have propane, gasoline or diesel fuel, and very, very few people will have the resources to store fuel for any length of time. We would have none of the resources we take for granted today. Nearly every single aspect of our lives is dependent upon electricity. We would have no fuel to run a generator. Solar or hydropower could be used to operate a freezer or refrigerator, water well pumps, and lights for quite some time, but eventually, the batteries used in these systems will need to be replaced. Even those of us that heat our homes with wood will have a tough go of it. I have a hard enough time keeping up with our firewood consumption using a pickup and a chainsaw. If I had to rely on a crosscut saw and a pull cart or a horse I would never keep up. I would have to close off most of my house and live in one room.

In my opinion, the best I can do to prepare for such a disaster is to stockpile at least a years worth of rice and freeze-dried vegetables, and put together a "seed bank" so I can grow vegetables and fruit, which is not an easy task in the high country of Montana I call home. About the only resource that will be easily available in my neck of the woods is meat. Even in the unlikely event I should run out of ammunition for my firearms I will be able to harvest game with a bow, snares, or traps.

Life out here in the boondocks will be tough enough, but I can't even fathom the devastation that will occur in the cities. Literately millions of people will most likely perish from such a catastrophe no matter how well they try to be prepared.  I believe the best thing city dwellers can do is educate yourselves in outdoor survival skills and practices, and when the time comes, get the heck outa town. Without a doubt, it will be difficult to survive for very long, but your chances will be better than if you decide to dig in in the city.

If anyone has any thoughts on this you would like to share, I'd like to hear them.

Monday, March 19, 2018

                         MOST THREATENING SEASON...PART 2

Greetings from the Crown of the continent! My last post summarized surviving day one of a 5-day Smith River Trip as an example of why I believe Springtime may be the most threatening season to our survival, simply because we often are not as prepared as we should be. This trip took place in June, which we consider "Spring" here in Montana. Heavy rain has been non-stop thus far in our journey.

Day two greeted us with more of the same; heavy rain, some wind, and cold temps just above freezing - perfect hypothermia conditions. Everyone in our party was more comfortable thoughpvc poncho or a garbage bag made into a poncho, which made a huge difference in our comfort level.
 because we were better prepared for it by dressing more appropriately. Those of us that had extra gloves, hats, rain jackets, and other clothing, shared with those that did not. Most everyone also wore a

As we had expected, the river had come way up overnight, transforming this peaceful little river into a raging monster. The river looked like chocolate milk, and there was lot's of debris; logs, entire trees - root wad and all. At one point we pulled the boats over to allow a mass of debris float past us. It was what looked like about a mile of barbed wire fence with dozens of fence posts all wadded up in a big ball just tumbling down the river. This was a very treacherous situation to be in.

Our rafts are setup with the guide in the middle, an angler in the front and an angler in the back. Though considering it pointless, a couple of the anglers tried fishing for a while, only to confirm that fishing would not be productive under these conditions. It was just too muddy and there was so much debris in the water. It got to be kind of scary, and just plain dangerous.

Typically, we don't wear our life vests when on these trips, but we did now, and the guy in front watching for floating debris ahead, the guy in the back was turned around watching for debris floating down on us from behind. The "back currents" in the plunge-pools was so strong it was difficult to row thru. Most of them were great big whirlpools full of logs and other debris. We couldn't take the main current thru these or we would get slammed into the rock walls and pinned or flipped.

Aside from the hazards in the water, we had to try to keep away from the cliffs because the heavy rain was causing rocks of all sizes to tumble down into the river. These cliffs are several hundred feet tall. Even a small pebble falling from those heights would cause lot's of damage to us and/or the boats. At one point, shortly after we passed by, a whole cliff-side broke loose and crashed into the river. If a boat had been under that it would have been "game-over".

Night two was pretty much a repeat of the first night, but our camp was under a heavy canopy of trees, and the rain lightened up just a bit for three or four hours, and we didn't have the volume of wet clothing we had the first day because everyone was better dressed, so we did not need to construct the "smoke hut", we just built the fire up real big. It was still a bit of a challenge to find wood that would burn.

The next morning it was raining just as hard as it ever was, and the river had come up several more feet - much higher than any of us had ever seen. At that point, the outfitter in charge of the trip decided to pack it in and row for the take-out, which was over 30 river miles, which normally takes us two days to cover. We did it in about four hours. According to a guests GPS, we averaged 10.3 miles per hour. That was a very fast boat-ride.

Fortunately, everyone in our party was no worse for the wear, but others were not so lucky. A couple of gals had to be air-lifted out after capsizing their canoe, and an elderly couple crashed their drift boat into a boulder and capsized, killing at least one of the occupants. The demolished boat was still there on the river bank for another year or two; a stark reminder of how treacherous this peaceful little river can become at times.

We, as professionals, were relatively well equipped for this trip, but there was room for improvement. I, personally, added a very large sheet of 6mil plastic and several lawn/garden bags to my boat gearbox, along with extra wool and fleece clothing, gloves, hats, etc for my guests that did not come prepared.I also included a breathable, waterproof survival bivy  Though I did not get really cold in my soaking wet sleeping bag on that trip, it was not comfortable, to say the least. I'm surprised how much more comfortable I am now with that bivy, and kicked myself for not getting one sooner.

I also added more fire starting material to my kit, and two more butane cigar, or "hurricane" lighters, as well as a FULL can of butane to refill them. I make my own fire starter with 1 1/2 inch wide by 1 ft long strips of corrugated cardboard which I roll up tight and tie with twine or dental floss, then soak for a minute in hot melted paraffin wax.

As a whole, the biggest improvement our party could have benefited from would be packing the proper clothing, and making sure it was with us in our own boats, and not packed away on the gear boats.

I am often accused of "over-packing" on most of these trips, but I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. That is really a good policy, especially in the Springtime, which can be the most threatening season of all, to your chances of survival.