I decided when watching “Alone in the Wild,” I wanted to write about what could be learned from the program rather than just review the show. I enjoyed the first episode quite a bit, and the opening scene where you see Ed Wardle at the end of his stay is such a marked contrast to the upbeat, healthy, clean-shaven man who gets dropped off by a bush pilot weeks before. At the end of Wardle’s journey, he looked haggard, gaunt and sounded sick. And, more than that, he sounded like a beaten man. I guess that’s what spending several weeks in the wilderness will do to you.
Did you see the show? What did you think?
My take (SPOILER AERT):
He had some luck fishing. Looks like he cooked up three grayling, a trout-like fish common to western Canada. Was it enough to live on? Hardly. I was reading a book called “How to Survive in the Woods” and it noted that the average man bushwhacking in the woods needs at least 3,000 calories a day to maintain weight, including muscle. Four-thousand would probably be more advisable.
So how many calories are in each of those grayling? I can’t be totally sure, but they look like pan-sized trout. If that’s the case, they’d be about 200 calories apiece. In other words, you’d need to catch and eat 15 to 20 of them a day just to get the minimum calories you need. Can you see where this is headed? Salmon is another story. They’re larger and much more calorie-dense. Still, food suddenly becomes a HUGE priority, as in something you think about and work for all the time. Now you know why it is that when you see animals in the wild, they’re constantly eating or looking for something to eat.
He seemed squeamish at first about killing squirrels and porcupines. Glad he got over that. You take food where you can. It’s a good thing he’s got a gun. The snares didn’t seem too effective yet.
One really smart move Wardle made: consulting with an expert on edible plants. The difference between life-saving calories and vitamins and being poisoned.
Something else I found interesting: His reaction to seeing a plane flying overhead. He became very emotional. It’s as if he was reacting to the extreme isolation he was in, really realizing how off the grid he was. I could see a lot of people, who upon getting lost, could lose it when they hear or see a sign of other people come and go. Wardle did the smart thing by continuing to make decisions instead of wallowing in his plight.
And then there the bears. Funny how quiet the wilderness is. Yet you know there’s things out there. And some of them could be hunting you. Unnerving.
Bottom line: Wardle put himself in a situation of constant stress. Not work stress, not relationship stress. But real, life-or-death stress. And it never goes away.
Something to think about on your next foray into the backcountry.