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Old 12th January 2020, 02:00 AM   #1
Checkmite
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Fool survives for three weeks in Alaskan woods after burning tarp-dwelling down

He was just rescued after relatives in Utah, where he lived before traveling to Alaska in September, asked police to perform a welfare check (the man is white) as they hadn't heard from him in "weeks".

Quote:
In aerial footage shared by the troopers, Tyson steps out among the snow-covered remains of his home, waving to the troopers in a helicopter, a large "SOS" carved out of the snow behind him.

"Everything that I owned was consolidated in that cabin," Steele told troopers, who shared Steele's survival account in the detailed release.

In the weeks after the fire, Steele said, he survived on the remnants of canned rations and peanut butter, sleeping in a snow cave and makeshift shelter that he built around his wood stove.

Steele had been living on his homestead, about 20 miles from Skwentna, since September, he told state troopers. He described his home as a Quonset hut -- a lightweight frame, covered in plastic tarps -- that he bought from a Vietnam veteran.

He admitted to the troopers that the fire resulted from a "hasty" mistake. In a hurry to get a fire started, he stuck a large piece of cardboard into his wood stove. He believes a piece of the flaming cardboard went out the chimney and landed on the roof.

Steele woke up in the middle of the night on either December 17 or 18 -- he couldn't recall the exact date, troopers said -- and heard melting plastic coming from the roof. After Steele stepped outside, he said, "I just see that the whole roof's on fire."

He didn't know enough about the surrounding area, including which of the many waterways in the area would be frozen over enough to cross, Steele told the troopers.

He gathered the food that survived the fire -- canned goods, some beans and peanut butter, and figured he had enough food to have two cans a day for a month. But a lot of the food had popped open in the heat of the blaze, he said, and mixed with the smoke of his burning hut.

"So it tastes like my home, just burning."

Steele had a "crappy" phone that he'd been using to check in with friends and family, but authorities said it was lost in the fire. So he hoped someone would call for a welfare check after they hadn't heard from him. If someone hadn't come by Day 35, he'd set out.
It's hard to choose where to begin with this. Let's start with the "home" itself I suppose. The man describes it as a "Quonset hut", but Quonset huts aren't made out of tarps, so what he actually seems to be describing is some kind of tarp-shed or carport - something never intended for long-term human habitation at any rate - and evidently he had decided despite his admitted unfamiliarity with the area that this would be a sufficient permanent home to pass the Alaskan winter in. Next, he decided that having a fire going inside this tarp-structure, his only source of shelter for 20 miles, ought to be A-OK.

Not actually knowing anything about the area - possibly including such details as "which direction to walk to find people" - when his phone was destroyed in the fire his only option was to ration the surviving remnants of his food and "hope someone (from Utah) would call for a welfare check".

I am glad he was rescued and I am sad that his dog was not lucky enough to survive this grand mistake; but what we seem to have here is another Christopher McCandless situation. This man had the sense to pack food with him at least (although perhaps not much more sense than that), but he very nearly lost it anyway.
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Old 12th January 2020, 03:47 AM   #2
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The story of the loss of his dog is harrowing.
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Old 12th January 2020, 06:25 AM   #3
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It's a Tarp!
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Old 12th January 2020, 07:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
(the man is white)
Tell us more about his race.
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Old 12th January 2020, 08:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Tell us more about his race.
Then maybe cover why he is a "fool"?
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Old 12th January 2020, 08:19 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Tell us more about his race.
I mean, "guy tries to live alone in Alaskan wilderness and burns his tarp house down" sort of makes "(by the way, he's white)" completely superfluous.
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Old 12th January 2020, 08:25 AM   #7
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Not knowing which way to go, yet in range of a cell tower? Darwin.
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Old 12th January 2020, 09:01 AM   #8
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I misread "fool" as "food". He might as well have been.
There seems to be something about that state that attracts dingbats, and reality TV producers to film them.
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Old 12th January 2020, 09:08 AM   #9
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This would never happen with a Universal Basic Income.
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Old 12th January 2020, 01:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I mean, "guy tries to live alone in Alaskan wilderness and burns his tarp house down" sort of makes "(by the way, he's white)" completely superfluous.
Fair enough
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Old 12th January 2020, 01:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Tell us more about his race.
I'm afraid that's all the information I have about it.

Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Then maybe cover why he is a "fool"?
Did you read the rest of the post?

Hmm, maybe you did and still don't understand. So I shall elaborate:

- It is foolish to use a tarp-shed as a permanent dwelling in any case

- It is particularly foolish to use it as a long-term dwelling in an Alaskan winter

- It is the height of foolishness to use fire inside a tarp shelter

- It is utter insanity to sleep whilst using fire inside a tarp shelter

- It is foolish for someone unfamiliar with the Alaskan winter and that area in particular to attempt to establish a permanent dwelling in a tarp-shed that's 20 miles away from the nearest village with no means of transportation in case of emergency.

I think that should about cover it.
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Old 12th January 2020, 02:17 PM   #12
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Thanks to modern emergency services another promising Darwin Award Nominee has failed to qualify.
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Old 12th January 2020, 02:20 PM   #13
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As usual, if you want the full story go to Daily Mail. Pictures too. The fool...

Originally Posted by Daily Mail
‘It started with a pretty hasty mistake,’ Steele said.

‘My woodstove is very, very old. The mistake I made, I got hasty and I put a big piece of cardboard in the stove to start the fire.

‘Which I knew was a problem, I’ve had woodstoves all my life. I knew that you don’t do that.

‘So, it sent a spark out through the chimney which landed on the roof.’...
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...rned-down.html
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Old 12th January 2020, 02:22 PM   #14
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I speculate that he was living there like that because of mental illness or personality disorder.
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Old 12th January 2020, 02:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
...I am glad he was rescued and I am sad that his dog was not lucky enough to survive this grand mistake; but what we seem to have here is another Christopher McCandless situation. This man had the sense to pack food with him at least (although perhaps not much more sense than that), but he very nearly lost it anyway.
In "Into The Wild," Jon Kraukauer devotes a few chapters to Alaskan dingbats. IIRC, one man who originally only wanted to spend the fall at his cabin in Alaska but still had to be flown in to do it. Well, he failed to make arrangements with the pilot (or any pilot) to come pick him up at such and such a date so he was forced to stay the winter. Unfortunately, he had decided to throw all his ammunition in the nearby lake (don't know why) and then had to get them out again and eventually killed himself because the winter was so harsh.
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Old 12th January 2020, 02:57 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
In "Into The Wild," Jon Kraukauer devotes a few chapters to Alaskan dingbats. IIRC, one man who originally only wanted to spend the fall at his cabin in Alaska but still had to be flown in to do it. Well, he failed to make arrangements with the pilot (or any pilot) to come pick him up at such and such a date so he was forced to stay the winter. Unfortunately, he had decided to throw all his ammunition in the nearby lake (don't know why) and then had to get them out again and eventually killed himself because the winter was so harsh.
Yeah, Carl McCunn. His eventual death was particularly sad because he was actually spotted at one point by a state police pilot who happened to fly over his campsite and McCunn, having assumed the pilot was positively looking for him and leading a rescue attempt, just waved at the pilot in a casual and friendly manner rather than making it clear he was in distress and wanted the pilot's attention. Oops.

One more half a point in this guy's favor, he had the presence of mind to draw a giant SOS in the snow for any pilots who happened along to notice.
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Old 12th January 2020, 03:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
I'm afraid that's all the information I have about it.
Fascinating. Thought for sure you would say it was a cut and paste error or something.

So the guy's race has something to do with this? Pray tell, what?

Does being white mean he will be harder to find, blending in with the snow?

You added this parenthetically after saying his relatives called police in Alaska for a welfare check. Is this some kind of white request, or unusual that it would be a white request? Whatever a white request is, of course.

I mean, this is first sentence information? Really? Can't think how it would have any possible relevance.

Quote:
I think that should about cover it.
The guy survived on his own in the Alaskan wilderness for months. Might he have gotten temporarily desperate, delirious, malnourished, or hypothermic, resulting in temporary poor judgement? You recently argued on another thread that people should not be responsible for their bad decisions if in financial straights; would not actual survival jeopardy excuse him from this judgement of foolishness you're laying on him?

Inquiring minds want to know.
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Old 12th January 2020, 03:33 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
I speculate that he was living there like that because of mental illness or personality disorder.
That's always a possibility, but we don't really know for sure. McCandless and the other guy that Elagabalus brought up are two examples of a sort of common story of idealists who get this fanciful and romantic idea in their heads of going all mountain-man in the wild - typically in Alaska because that's where the most untraveled wilderness is - despite having either no outdoor experience at all, or mistaking basic hiking/backpacking or emergency survival knowledge for competency at sustainable wilderness homesteading. I suppose you could call it a kind of mania, maybe, but I'm unaware of any evidence that what we more popularly think of as mental illness, like depression or schizophrenia or the like, is common among people who do this.
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Old 12th January 2020, 03:41 PM   #19
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My speculation is specific for this person.
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Old 12th January 2020, 03:54 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
So the guy's race has something to do with this? Pray tell, what?

Does being white mean he will be harder to find, blending in with the snow?

You added this parenthetically after saying his relatives called police in Alaska for a welfare check. Is this some kind of white request, or unusual that it would be a white request? Whatever a white request is, of course.

I mean, this is first sentence information? Really? Can't think how it would have any possible relevance.
Sorry, it was a cut and paste error. Please ignore it.

Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
The guy survived on his own in the Alaskan wilderness for months. Might he have gotten temporarily desperate, delirious, malnourished, or hypothermic, resulting in temporary poor judgement? You recently argued on another thread that people should not be responsible for their bad decisions if in financial straights; would not actual survival jeopardy excuse him from this judgement of foolishness you're laying on him?

Inquiring minds want to know.
People in dire financial straits should not be held responsible for falling victim to fraud under pressure.

This man's poor judgement started long before he was in survival jeopardy, and I've already pointed out why so there's no reason to repeat myself on that part. It doesn't make sense to assert that the poor judgement which resulted in the fire accident was only "temporary" if his all of his previous judgement up to that point is what had gotten him into the "delirious, malnourished, hypothermic" state he was in at the time.
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Old 12th January 2020, 07:55 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Sorry, it was a cut and paste error. Please ignore it.
Oh, no you don't. That was facetious, to say you would cop out along those lines. You answered two other posters without suggesting it was in error. Own your inexplicable and gratuitous race-baiting.

Now, what does him being white have to do with anything?

Quote:
People in dire financial straits should not be held responsible for falling victim to fraud under pressure.

This man's poor judgement started long before he was in survival jeopardy, and I've already pointed out why so there's no reason to repeat myself on that part. It doesn't make sense to assert that the poor judgement which resulted in the fire accident was only "temporary" if his all of his previous judgement up to that point is what had gotten him into the "delirious, malnourished, hypothermic" state he was in at the time.
No, you didn't. Do you have any idea how survivalists work? They specifically want to go into it with little more than the shirts on their backs and the most bare minimum of equipment and supplies. that's what survivalism is all about. It's not freaking Club Med; they want to test their ability to survive with very little.

If this guy was near the point of hypothermia, he may have desperately made that fire in delirium that he does not even remember. To dismiss him as a fool shows a lack of empathy for a survivalist mindset. He brought a phone, too, showing that he was prepared for a Hail Mary if needed, assuming it was within tower reach and he had a solar charger (he was 20 miles from a town, IIRC).
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Old 13th January 2020, 02:22 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
He was just rescued after relatives in Utah, where he lived before traveling to Alaska in September, asked police to perform a welfare check (the man is white) as they hadn't heard from him in "weeks".



It's hard to choose where to begin with this. Let's start with the "home" itself I suppose. The man describes it as a "Quonset hut", but Quonset huts aren't made out of tarps, so what he actually seems to be describing is some kind of tarp-shed or carport - something never intended for long-term human habitation at any rate - and evidently he had decided despite his admitted unfamiliarity with the area that this would be a sufficient permanent home to pass the Alaskan winter in. Next, he decided that having a fire going inside this tarp-structure, his only source of shelter for 20 miles, ought to be A-OK.

Not actually knowing anything about the area - possibly including such details as "which direction to walk to find people" - when his phone was destroyed in the fire his only option was to ration the surviving remnants of his food and "hope someone (from Utah) would call for a welfare check".

I am glad he was rescued and I am sad that his dog was not lucky enough to survive this grand mistake; but what we seem to have here is another Christopher McCandless situation. This man had the sense to pack food with him at least (although perhaps not much more sense than that), but he very nearly lost it anyway.
If you watch the video, you can see the frame of the quonset hut right there next to his makeshift "tarp" hut
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Old 13th January 2020, 03:10 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
No, you didn't. Do you have any idea how survivalists work? They specifically want to go into it with little more than the shirts on their backs and the most bare minimum of equipment and supplies. that's what survivalism is all about. It's not freaking Club Med; they want to test their ability to survive with very little.

If this guy was near the point of hypothermia, he may have desperately made that fire in delirium that he does not even remember. To dismiss him as a fool shows a lack of empathy for a survivalist mindset. He brought a phone, too, showing that he was prepared for a Hail Mary if needed, assuming it was within tower reach and he had a solar charger (he was 20 miles from a town, IIRC).
Someone deliberately put themselves in harm's way by going into an incredibly hostile environment without the necessary equipment, and it would appear skills, to be able to survive.

His unpreparedness, incompetence and selfishness also meant that other people, who were prepared properly, had to put themselves in harm's way to get him out of his self-created crisis.

I'm a keen skier, and like to test myself from time to time by skiing waaaaay off-piste. I always hire a qualified guide and take a range of emergency equipment to help preserve life if things go wrong and to help rescuers find me in the event of an accident or avalanche. If, like this survivalist, I failed to have a guide and instead just went off by myself, and didn't take adequate precautions to ensure my safety, then I would rightly be called a fool, whether or not anything went wrong.
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Old 13th January 2020, 04:22 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
If you watch the video, you can see the frame of the quonset hut right there next to his makeshift "tarp" hut
No you misunderstand.

You can see the remains of the tarp-shed frame, yes. But that frame, too, was originally covered with tarp. It's what caught on fire in the first place. Quonset huts have metal roofs.

Curiously there are other tarp-structures that are visible when the camera gives a wide shot of the "lot", one of which appears to be intact but from the snow-cover does not appear to have been used or even entered by him, at least in the last couple of snowfalls.

More curious still, he does not seem to have learned much from his accident, because the makeshift tarp-shelter he did build among the remains of the original (burned down) shed was also built around the woodburning stove, completely surrounding it just like the original structure had (from the description). While I understand "thing warm, want to be close", there is an air of imminent re-disaster there. I think it's quite possible he was rescued just in time.
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Old 13th January 2020, 08:45 AM   #25
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Is a Quonset hut defined by the design of its support structure, or by the material of its siding?

If it's the support structure, then a tarp-walled Quonset is just as much a Quonset as a corrugated steel-walled Quonset.
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Old 13th January 2020, 09:01 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Someone deliberately put themselves in harm's way by going into an incredibly hostile environment without the necessary equipment, and it would appear skills, to be able to survive.

His unpreparedness, incompetence and selfishness also meant that other people, who were prepared properly, had to put themselves in harm's way to get him out of his self-created crisis.

I'm a keen skier, and like to test myself from time to time by skiing waaaaay off-piste. I always hire a qualified guide and take a range of emergency equipment to help preserve life if things go wrong and to help rescuers find me in the event of an accident or avalanche. If, like this survivalist, I failed to have a guide and instead just went off by myself, and didn't take adequate precautions to ensure my safety, then I would rightly be called a fool, whether or not anything went wrong.
See, I think the guy did know what he was doing, but had a momentary lapse of judgement with catastrophic results.

He bought a brand new cel phone, presumably one designed to work in the extreme environment, which he used to call family once a week. He had canned goods airdropped in, in addition to his hunting equipment. He did actually survive on his own in extremely hostile conditions for months, then without his gear for weeks in sub zero temps (by either of our scales). This was no McCandelless babe in the woods; he succeeded.

He, like McCandelless and countless others, made a small error that proved catastrophic in the wilderness.

And please don't think he 'forced' anyone to be 'put in harm's way'. Rescue personnel live and breathe that stuff. You think they took that job to sit in an office? Also, a helicopter ride and picking a guy up was probably the least dangerous thing they did that week. It's not like they went out in a blizzard and carried him out by hand.
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Old 13th January 2020, 09:47 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
See, I think the guy did know what he was doing, but had a momentary lapse of judgement with catastrophic results.
I guess I see it differently, I see a bumbling idiot who made a catastrophic mistake and failed to have enough local knowledge to work his way out of it.

Set fire to his shelter, didn't know the local area well enough and then seemingly didn't learn from his experience when the "design" of his replacement structure is considered.

Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
He bought a brand new cel phone, presumably one designed to work in the extreme environment, which he used to call family once a week. He had canned goods airdropped in, in addition to his hunting equipment. He did actually survive on his own in extremely hostile conditions for months, then without his gear for weeks in sub zero temps (by either of our scales). This was no McCandelless babe in the woods; he succeeded.

He, like McCandelless and countless others, made a small error that proved catastrophic in the wilderness.
A phone described in the OP as "crappy" and which he managed to lose.

He simply didn't have an effective Plan B once he burned Plan A to the ground.

Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
And please don't think he 'forced' anyone to be 'put in harm's way'. Rescue personnel live and breathe that stuff. You think they took that job to sit in an office? Also, a helicopter ride and picking a guy up was probably the least dangerous thing they did that week. It's not like they went out in a blizzard and carried him out by hand.
Yes they do live to serve, but some idiot taking needless risks and then requiring them to come out and save them is taking the ****.
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Old 13th January 2020, 10:11 AM   #28
Thermal
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I guess I see it differently, I see a bumbling idiot who made a catastrophic mistake and failed to have enough local knowledge to work his way out of it.

Set fire to his shelter, didn't know the local area well enough and then seemingly didn't learn from his experience when the "design" of his replacement structure is considered.
Well, for a bumbling idiot, he survived months on his own and was healthy when they found him.

His only reported deficit in local knowledge was not knowing which of the rivers would have frozen over thick enough for safe travel. That's actually smart on his part. A novice might see the ice and try to walk it. He didn't, because he hadn't been there for enough winter to suss that out and recognized the danger.

He stayed put, with an SOS in the snow. That's exactly what he should have done to maximize rescue odds. His plan was only to start walking when supplies ran out.

Quote:
A phone described in the OP as "crappy" and which he managed to lose.
The linked statement says it was new, and if he was able to call previously, must have been rated for the elements. His own description of 'crappy' was I assume in hindsight evaluation, because it was not performing in the frigid temps, which it may have well claimed to be (a Sonim or similar).

Quote:
He simply didn't have an effective Plan B once he burned Plan A to the ground.
I think he did, and it worked. He knew how to make shelter in the snow to stay alive without succumbing to hypothermia, and walked out of there on his own power.

Quote:
Yes they do live to serve, but some idiot taking needless risks and then requiring them to come out and save them is taking the ****.
The same could be said of sailing, or flying, or even driving a car. I was on a local volunteer Rescue Squad when I was younger (not this wilderness kind), and preferred to be quite willingly taking the risks, rather than scrutinizing contracts for what constituted a weld on an ambulance repair. Rescue is what they actually want to do. I've never heard one complaining that they felt put out.
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Old 13th January 2020, 10:21 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Is a Quonset hut defined by the design of its support structure, or by the material of its siding?
I thought is was defined by the siding also being the support structure. The corrugated siding usually is self supporting, IIIRC. So there is no requirement for a frame or support structure separate from the skin. Why this was first discovered in Rhode Island, I have no idea.

A tent with ribs would just be a tent in my mind.

But, and I mean this sincerely, I am open to a deeper dive on all of that.

ETA: A tent with a wood burning stove is very common in Alaska. I'm more familiar with their use in Colorado, as I've never been to Alaska. A google search of "wood burning tent stove" should yield results.
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Old 13th January 2020, 10:53 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I thought is was defined by the siding also being the support structure. The corrugated siding usually is self supporting, IIIRC. So there is no requirement for a frame or support structure separate from the skin. Why this was first discovered in Rhode Island, I have no idea.

A tent with ribs would just be a tent in my mind.

But, and I mean this sincerely, I am open to a deeper dive on all of that.

ETA: A tent with a wood burning stove is very common in Alaska. I'm more familiar with their use in Colorado, as I've never been to Alaska. A google search of "wood burning tent stove" should yield results.
Interesting. Wikipedia says it's "a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel".

But it also says,
The original design was a 16 feet (4.9 m) × 36 feet (11 m) structure framed with steel members [ . . . ] The sides were corrugated steel sheets
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quonset_hut

Based on my reading, I'd be comfortable calling any semi-cylindrical shelter consisting of material over curved framing members a "Quonset" hut, even though technically the sides are expected to be corrugated metal.
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Old 13th January 2020, 11:05 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Interesting. Wikipedia says it's "a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel".

But it also says,
The original design was a 16 feet (4.9 m) × 36 feet (11 m) structure framed with steel members [ . . . ] The sides were corrugated steel sheets
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quonset_hut

Based on my reading, I'd be comfortable calling any semi-cylindrical shelter consisting of material over curved framing members a "Quonset" hut, even though technically the sides are expected to be corrugated metal.
While I would still like to remain friends, this may be one of those topics where we just agree to disagree. I'll note it as a topic to not bring up when we finally do sit down for a beer.

Side note: Not as evidence, but as fun anecdata, on the NatGeo show Life Below Zero, Sue in Kavik (About 200 miles north of the artic circle) refers to her hoop framed tents as tents, except for the yellow one that she lives in, that's the Twinkie.
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Old 13th January 2020, 11:06 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Well, for a bumbling idiot, he survived months on his own and was healthy when they found him.

His only reported deficit in local knowledge was not knowing which of the rivers would have frozen over thick enough for safe travel. That's actually smart on his part. A novice might see the ice and try to walk it. He didn't, because he hadn't been there for enough winter to suss that out and recognized the danger.

He stayed put, with an SOS in the snow. That's exactly what he should have done to maximize rescue odds. His plan was only to start walking when supplies ran out.


The linked statement says it was new, and if he was able to call previously, must have been rated for the elements. His own description of 'crappy' was I assume in hindsight evaluation, because it was not performing in the frigid temps, which it may have well claimed to be (a Sonim or similar).


I think he did, and it worked. He knew how to make shelter in the snow to stay alive without succumbing to hypothermia, and walked out of there on his own power.

I generally agree. He didn't walk out on his own power, he was helicoptered out. He would probably have been able to walk out on his own power but that didn't turn out to be necessary because the welfare check and rescue he was hoping for instead actually happened. And the cell phone didn't fail and he didn't misplace it. According to the accounts, it was destroyed in the fire.

In stories like this I look for the second big mistake. All survivors make the first one, as this man certainly did. But after that, he chose the safer option, to shelter in place with his remaining resources, which he carried out successfully. That choice required awareness and patience. Packing out on foot right away could have saved him weeks of hunger and discomfort, but it would been far more risky, because of the winter conditions and because he apparently didn't have much warm clothing left after the fire. He may not have had snowshoes or skis that survived the fire. Some have read his concerns about finding a safe way out as him not knowing which way to go, but it sounds to me more like not risking unfamiliar conditions (a trail or network of trails that he hadn't traversed in winter before because that would be unsafe) and inadequate trail gear.
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Old 13th January 2020, 11:22 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Now, what does him being white have to do with anything?
Helicopter rescue is white privilege.
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Old 13th January 2020, 11:22 AM   #34
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I like the "where's the second mistake" rubric. It seems like a useful framework for assessing these kinds of scenarios.

SCUBA diving has the concept of an incident pit. The concept is that there's always something minor going wrong - often two or three things at once. Whether or not you go to a watery grave doesn't depend on preventing anything at all from going wrong. Rather, it depends on how well you keep your head when something does go wrong, and avoid sliding further down the walls of the pit, until they're so steep you can't climb out again.

This seems like a similar kind of situation. He found himself on the edge of an incident pit, and clawed hard at the edge to keep from sliding further in.
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Old 13th January 2020, 11:26 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
I generally agree. He didn't walk out on his own power, he was helicoptered out. He would probably have been able to walk out on his own power but that didn't turn out to be necessary because the welfare check and rescue he was hoping for instead actually happened. And the cell phone didn't fail and he didn't misplace it. According to the accounts, it was destroyed in the fire.

In stories like this I look for the second big mistake. All survivors make the first one, as this man certainly did. But after that, he chose the safer option, to shelter in place with his remaining resources, which he carried out successfully. That choice required awareness and patience. Packing out on foot right away could have saved him weeks of hunger and discomfort, but it would been far more risky, because of the winter conditions and because he apparently didn't have much warm clothing left after the fire. He may not have had snowshoes or skis that survived the fire. Some have read his concerns about finding a safe way out as him not knowing which way to go, but it sounds to me more like not risking unfamiliar conditions (a trail or network of trails that he hadn't traversed in winter before because that would be unsafe) and inadequate trail gear.
Yes, there are links in the OP that take you to his full statement to Alaska police. He claimed that the phone would not keep a charge, but was limping enough to make a call a week, then it was destroyed in the fire. When I say he walked out, I meant that he was not a popsickle stuck in the snow when they found him. And his snowshoes and other gear were indeed destroyed in the fire, and he said there was some new 3 feet of powder recently fallen, making walking out borderline suicidal.
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Old 13th January 2020, 11:51 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
This would never happen with a Universal Basic Income.
stupid is still stupid, sure it would
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Old 13th January 2020, 01:29 PM   #37
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I'll add this story to my list of reasons I don't live in the middle of ******* nowhere.
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Old 13th January 2020, 02:05 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
I'll add this story to my list of reasons I don't live in the middle of ******* nowhere.
Checks notes . . . . . . . where are you moving to?
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Old 13th January 2020, 02:07 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Oh, no you don't. That was facetious, to say you would cop out along those lines. You answered two other posters without suggesting it was in error. Own your inexplicable and gratuitous race-baiting.

Now, what does him being white have to do with anything?
It was nothing; please just ignore it.

Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
No, you didn't. Do you have any idea how survivalists work? They specifically want to go into it with little more than the shirts on their backs and the most bare minimum of equipment and supplies. that's what survivalism is all about. It's not freaking Club Med; they want to test their ability to survive with very little.
Strictly speaking, Survivalism is not about "a bare minimum of equipment and supplies"; certainly some of them go that route, but not enough of them, I think, to warrant describing that approach as what survivalism is "all about". Survivalism is a subculture based largely around the expectation of near-future societal collapse as a result of manmade or natural catastrophe; to "prep" for that inevitable occasion, survivalists more typically amass large stores of ammunition, food, clothing, fuels, and other supplies, and often build elaborate shelters or "bunkers" in which to hide and defend themselves from the presumed predatory armed gangs of people they expect society to devolve into after "the end". Although many of them do choose to learn primitive wilderness survival techniques as part of the "just-in-case" philosophy that defines their lifestyle, and some do go on extremely primitive camping trips to practice, survivalists in general have no intention of escaping to the woods to deliberately make do with as little as possible. Quite the opposite, they tend to want their lives after-the-end to be as comfortable as possible for as long as possible, and the primitive skills are only there for when the stockpiles inevitably run out.

I think I know what you mean to describe when you say "survivalist", though I'm not sure what the term really is. The kind of off-the-grid-ism that for instance Ted Kaczynski went for; a here-and-now rejection of "the system" and society, as opposed to survivalism's being centered on preparing for a future event and only planning on "bugging out" when that day arrives. But nonetheless, I have seen little evidence to convince me that this guy is that kind of person. He decided to live far away from town yeah; but that's where the "primitive" part ends; he certainly does not appear to have done so with "little more" than a single change of clothing and a bare minimum of equipment and supplies. He did not hack together a shelter out of branches and stones or build a primitive log cabin; he purchased a prefabricated plastic building on an established site and - unwisely - used it for what was intended to be a permanent "house". He had a modest store of ammunition and a couple of firearms but nothing he has said gives the impression that he was hunting for food; and he certainly was not practicing agrarian homesteading techniques nor was he eating MREs or rehydrated meals in typical "survivalist" fashion, but rather had a substantial pantry of normal grocery-store food and received (or intended to receive) regular resupply by air service; indeed, after most of his food supply was destroyed in the fire he still managed to have what he determined to be a month's rations left over. He did not build campfires and construct lean-tos to catch the heat; he had a wood-burning stove and was comfortable enough while using it to sleep in long underpants and a t-shirt. He had modern clothes and ate commercial food and had no qualms using such modern technology as was practical in the circumstances (even complaining at one point about the "crappy" quality of his cellphone), which argues against that kind of anti-social and Luddite philosophy that underpins modern reclusivism (a term of convenience that I have just made up).

Quote:
If this guy was near the point of hypothermia, he may have desperately made that fire in delirium that he does not even remember. To dismiss him as a fool shows a lack of empathy for a survivalist mindset. He brought a phone, too, showing that he was prepared for a Hail Mary if needed, assuming it was within tower reach and he had a solar charger (he was 20 miles from a town, IIRC).
The hypothermia made-the-fire-desperately-in-a-delirium hypothesis does not seem to match the man's own description of the night of the accident which he seems to remember with some clarity; again, he was warm enough that night to have been able to sleep in his underwear. But you seem to want this both ways; you assert he was a well-prepared rough-and-tumble "survivalist", as evidently proven by his ability to survive for three weeks (with a wood stove and a month's worth of food) after his tarp-house burned down, but he was also so horrendously bad at it that he wound up deliriously hypothermic to the point that he burned down his only shelter without knowing he had done so. If he had a "survivalist mindset" inasmuch as he had a dream to live that way, but lacked the skill to back it up with, then yes "fool" works just fine.

The phone that he had brought with him was not a backup plan. He communicated with his family in Utah with it on at least a weekly basis; he lamented during his interview that it turned out to be "crappy" on account of its battery life being considerably poor even when fully charged, which he stated kept him from using it as often as he would've liked. But he was able to charge it, meaning he had access to electricity. You have made a declarative statement that he had a solar charger; but this isn't stated in any of the articles, and the helicopter footage shows two separate antenna masts among the remains of the outbuilding as well as power lines at the site; given how notoriously unreliable and gimmicky solar phone-chargers are known to be even in the brightest sunlight (in cloudy high-latitude winter conditions they would almost certainly be useless), it is more plausible that he had and used an electric generator.

So no; I'm going to tentatively reject the "recluse living off the land" hypothesis; while he certainly put himself in a position where the comforts and conveniences of modern life weren't immediately accessible, it's pretty clear he didn't intend to deprive himself of them completely.
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Old 13th January 2020, 02:24 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Checks notes . . . . . . . where are you moving to?
Aaaahhh snap!
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