Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

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Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby the_bandersnatch » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:43 pm UTC

It's my 30th birthday in about a year-and-a-half now and for it I want to do something a bit different, something I've been thinking of for a while now, but I don't know if it'd be possible, so thought I'd get some advice from the forumites.

What I would like to do is spend a week or two out in a desert somewhere by myself and with minimal food. Because I live in Britain and we don't have any deserts (well, not including Milton Keynes), I'll obviously have to travel, preferably to somewhere far flung, but I don't mind this, it's kind of the point.
The main issue I can think of is working out how to do this without dying. I'm not aware of any travel operators that would run something like this, and if I organise it myself I don't think I'll be able to take enough food with me, and there's water and sunstroke issues to worry about. So, I guess what I'm asking is, has anyone on the forums got any desert experience, know of any operators that would do something like this, and any general advice people would be willing to give (other than don't do it 8) ). Thanks.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby sje46 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:51 pm UTC

Don't they have some sort of weird satallite phones that can get service anywhere? I would get one of those.

Also, watch plenty of that Manb Vs Wild show. I've only seen one episode, but it seems like that guy knows what he's talking about.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:06 pm UTC

.. the Man Vs. Wild guy is an idiot.

Back to the topic - go to Arizona for a week and vacation there. See how you can handle it - the heat, the lack of vegetation and so on. See if you can eat a cactus.

I mean, I already know food isn't going to be your problem. You are simply not going to be capable of carrying all the water you need, at least if you're not carrying anything else. So, that's going to be your biggest issue - water.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby OBrien » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:09 pm UTC

Bring a stilsuit. And now for advice that doesn't involve fictional garments: If you're going to the Australian desert, watch loads of Ray Mears before you go.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby sje46 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:11 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:.. the Man Vs. Wild guy is an idiot.
Why? Is it some of the stuff he does to try to survive, or the inherent craziness involved with deserting yourself on an island?
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby JBJ » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:33 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:.. the Man Vs. Wild guy is an idiot.
Why? Is it some of the stuff he does to try to survive, or the inherent craziness involved with deserting yourself on an island?

No, it's because he is an idiot. He takes unnecessary risks to make the show more dramatic. You see him leaping over boulders, doing back flips into rivers, and other crazy shit. No survivalist in his right mind would ever attempt any of the "stunts" he performs. The one that made me cringe was when he climbed a tree with an unsheathed 6-8" knife in his mouth to get at some fruit. He then proceeded to cut and eat the fruit while still up the tree balanced on the branches.

Yeah, and he is out there with a camera crew and other "real" survival experts to make sure he doesn't get hurt. If you want a real survival experience, watch Les Stroud on SurvivorMan. He goes out by himself, no support.

EDIT:
Here's the episode Les did in the Arizona desert on YouTube (5 parts)
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:39 pm UTC

Well, no, there's the uselessness of it all. Of course the dude's going to be fine when he's staying in a hotel and getting three squares a day. Survivorman is a better show for that, but even then all of that is still going to be next to useless. The only real way to learn is to have someone teach you, one to one (or one to thirty in a class, but you get the idea). Even reading large books on the subject isn't the same thing as getting out there under supervision and doing what needs to be done to stay alive.

Whether hot, temperate or cold, deserts are easy places to die.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby OBrien » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:50 pm UTC

JBJ wrote:
sje46 wrote:He takes unnecessary risks to make the show more dramatic. You see him leaping over boulders, doing back flips into rivers, and other crazy shit. No survivalist in his right mind would ever attempt any of the "stunts" he performs.


SecondTalon wrote:Of course the dude's going to be fine when he's staying in a hotel and getting three squares a day.


This is also why Bear Gryles (sp?) is an idiot and Ray Mears is awesome
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby crucialityfactor » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:55 pm UTC

Yeah, there are plenty of books out there that can outline desert survival techniques as well as what you can and can't eat, etc. But definitely the best way to learn this is under the guide of an expert.

A quick google brought up this site: http://apathways.com/corporate/DesertSurvival.htm

Might not be a bad place to start with information wise. Doesn't look cheap and the classes are all in the Western US, so travel costs and what not but I'm sure a more in depth search will find something closer to you.

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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby the_bandersnatch » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:27 pm UTC

Hey, crucialityfactor, that's a pretty decent course from the looks of it and not too expensive either. Thanks for the linkage. Of course, it's in Arizona so I'd have to travel over there, but I've found another one a bit closer to home: Sahara Desert Expedition. I honestly didn't think there'd be courses you could take in this, that's how much I don't have a clue :lol:
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Vincent91 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:40 pm UTC

Bring a car door so that you can open the window when it gets too warm.

Alright, I'm out of here

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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Chfan » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:42 pm UTC

Of course, Bear Grylls doesn't bitch constantly about his fucking cameras.
Just FYI, the guy isn't avatar isn't me. But he seems pretty cool.

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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby the_bandersnatch » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:50 pm UTC

Vincent91 wrote:Bring a car door so that you can open the window when it gets too warm.


Haha, that's genius, I think I will :D
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby crucialityfactor » Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:11 pm UTC

It sounds like a sweet time, I hope you maintain a journal or a photo diary of it.

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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:59 pm UTC

Bear Gryllis is not only a bad host who gives incorrect advice, but his show is as honest a survival course as 'McDonalds down to earth family style homecooking' special would be. Survivor man is far more accurate, gives legit advice, and actually survives for a week.

I would however, like to suggest you not base a few weeks survival in the desert based on what you see on tv. I would be hesitant to even suggest a book. You should probably talk to someone, and get some training, before heading into the desert and pulling an Into the Wild (stupid kid). I would also strongly, HIGHLY suggest bringing a satellite phone and a GPS, BOTH POWERED BY BATTERIES.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby brakos82 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:25 pm UTC

Vincent91 wrote:Bring a car door so that you can open the window when it gets too warm.


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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Enuja » Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:53 pm UTC

I'd suggest a 3 week vacation: a one week desert training course, a week in hotels, recovering and seeing some sights in the place you went to, and then a one week trip in the desert alone. Even deserts have water sources, and I suggest that you find a location that you can be camping, alone, with a water source. Failing that, you can get a large amount of water dropped off by vehicle where you are dropped off, or even cached at strategic locations on a hiking route.

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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Ended » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:57 pm UTC

We used to drive into the desert occasionally when I lived in the Middle East. A crucial precaution is to ensure that several dependable people know your detailed schedule and proposed travel routes, and that you keep those people updated on changes to your schedule. Maybe you could check in with them at pre-arranged times by satellite phone or something. Depending on where you go, you might also want to let your Consulate know about your plans. (Probably not necessary in the US but definitely advisable in the Middle East, for example).

I would also suggest taking a vehicle rather than walking, mainly to carry water. If you take a vehicle and the desert is sandy you'll need to make sure you know how to drive on sand, and take the appropriate equipment in case you get stuck.

I'm sure you'll have a great time! Deserts can be beautiful places.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby invisibl » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:58 am UTC

Bear Grylls isnt real?

WTF?


What else on Television is fabricated then???


Next you all will be telling me that it is for entertainment purposes only....

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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Sasha » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:41 am UTC

As a native Arizonian, I have some advice.
Water water water water.
If you do not keep hydrated you will DIE. SOON.
Wear proper clothing, bring a compass, have some way of getting help in an emergency.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Amarantha » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:05 am UTC

1. Water.
2. Sun/heat protection.
3. Cold protection - deserts get chilly at night.
4. Some means of calling for help if you get lost/stuck/injured etc.

You won't be able to carry enough water on your person, so you'll need a route that takes you past sufficient watering points, or else some alternative way of transporting it (onna wheeled handcart, a cycle-powered rig if the sand is not too soft, a camel or similar, or a motor vehicle). As has been suggested, learn from people who have done it. Your course sounds good :)

OT: Ray Mears is awesome. Man vs Wild is ridiculous. Sheol showed me a bit where he's heading down some narrow canyon and then it's all choked with trees and debris and he has to go into the river and swim under the mess and hope he doesn't get snagged and drown Oh me yarm will he make it! So of course we see him emerge at the other side... from the other side... Wait, htf did the cameraman get around? It brought back fond memories of Alby Mangels in the 80's.

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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby the_bandersnatch » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:03 am UTC

Some good advice here, thanks guys. I guess I best do it with a land rover or similar then, to carry my water. I'm going to look into doing that course based in Morocco next year if I can afford it (which is iffy, but I gotta try).
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Qaanol » Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:30 am UTC

I am not an expert and I have never lived in a desert, but I have gone through some survival training. I'm also a Wilderness First Responder. One thing I have *heard* but never tried or seen, for getting water in the desert, is as follows: You dig a large hole (wide, but not more than a few feet deep) and put a bucket at the center, with a big sheet of plastic across the top. A bunch of rocks around the rim hold the plastic in place. One rock on the center of the plastic pushes it down toward (but not touching) the bucket. The idea is that condensation will form on the plastic overnight and drip into the bucket.

Again, I have never tried this, and I suspect it would be more efficient in, say, Arizona, where there are plants and hence perchance some moisture in the ground, than in the Sahara. However, if you are interested in seeing how self-sufficient you *could be*, perhaps you could try this condensation technique and report back to us how much (if any) water you were able to collect, and how big of a hole and sheet of plastic you used.

Also, make sure you know what "appropriate clothing" is. People who live in the desert will be able to tell you best.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby dubsola » Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:44 am UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:Sahara Desert Expedition.

First thing I thought of. I've done this - not sure if it's the same company, and I did one that only lasted three nights, but you go from Marrakech (incredible city, btw, give yourself a few days here) through the Atlas mountains, you visit a fuck-off gorge, then go into the desert by camel. And Morocco is such a crazy place that my simple straightforward description hides innumerable twists and turns. One such turn: 4 wheel drive broke down, and we drove over sand dunes in a clapped-out Mercedes taxi and could feel the sand brushing underneath the car.

Also, Morocco is cheap. Very cheap. A nice meal in Marrakech will cost about 2 euros.

DO IT.

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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Magilla » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:16 pm UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:It's my 30th birthday in about a year-and-a-half now and for it I want to do something a bit different, something I've been thinking of for a while now, but I don't know if it'd be possible, so thought I'd get some advice from the forumites.

What I would like to do is spend a week or two out in a desert somewhere by myself and with minimal food. Because I live in Britain and we don't have any deserts (well, not including Milton Keynes), I'll obviously have to travel, preferably to somewhere far flung, but I don't mind this, it's kind of the point.
The main issue I can think of is working out how to do this without dying. I'm not aware of any travel operators that would run something like this, and if I organise it myself I don't think I'll be able to take enough food with me, and there's water and sunstroke issues to worry about. So, I guess what I'm asking is, has anyone on the forums got any desert experience, know of any operators that would do something like this, and any general advice people would be willing to give (other than don't do it 8) ). Thanks.


As someone who grew up in the desert, my advice is simply this: don't - at least not by yourself. They don't say the desert is unforgiving because it sounds funny. Take a guided tour, or do daytrips from a larger center. Even experienced people get stuck out there.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:43 pm UTC

Yes but will you ride through on a horse with no name?
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Sweeney » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:46 pm UTC

The only advice I would give to somebody about to walk into the desert alone is: Don't.

The only advice I would give to somebody about to walk into a dessert alone is: Pass the spoon...
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby the.coding.eye » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:47 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:See if you can eat a cactus.

They're not that bad. The one I tried tasted like a warm cucumber.

Izawwlgood wrote:I would also strongly, HIGHLY suggest bringing a satellite phone and a GPS, BOTH POWERED BY BATTERIES.

Be sure to bring extra batteries as well.

I would also recommend taking at least a basic wilderness first aid course.
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Re: Advice needed on walking off into the desert alone

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:06 pm UTC

You know, I feel bad for being a naysayer to your whims. In retrospect, especially given my preferences for these sort of endeavors, fully and wholly support your desire to do this. Just do it smartly and safely, like, as was mentioned, notifying people of your plans and sticking to them, and if you are really wandering, bring a GPS and a sat phone. Bring water and proper tools (signal mirror, knife, tweezers, umm... other stuff). Relish in being lost and getting found.

But absolutely understand that the desert is a pretty dangerous place. Research where you are going. Don't start any fires. Don't camp on low ground.
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