On July 23, a 66-year-old woman from Tennessee, Geraldine Largay, was supposed to meet her husband at a point on the Appalachian Trail in Maine, and when she failed to make the rendezvous, he declared her missing. Largay was an experienced hiker and in good health, but she simply vanished. Despite an intensive search, which has just been scaled back, there is not a trace of her. Heart attack? Bear? Human monster? We don’t know and we may never know.
The most notable wilderness disappearance was that of Congressman Hale Boggs, whose plane vanished in a remote part of Alaska in 1972, resulting in the most sustained and intensive rescue search in U.S. history. Not a trace was found. The plane, Hale Boggs, and his fellow passengers simply ceased to exist.
In the late 1990s, I attended a class on survival given by Peter Kummerfeldt and was spellbound at how much the guy knew and how well he presented it. Mr. Kummerfeldt, in case you’re not familiar with him, spent 30 years as an Air Force survival instructor and finished his career as head of the survival course at the Air Force Academy. He has taught the subject to other government agencies, is a flyfishing and hunting guide, and has been involved in search and rescue operations as well.
Peter is not one of the television survivalists who eats wolverine dung for the camera. He is not in show business; he is deadly serious about staying alive in the outdoors because he’s seen, first-hand, what happens when your skills are not up to that job.
If you’d really like to depress yourself some evening, watch “Doomsday Preppers” on the National Geographic Channel. The show details the plans of normal, well adjusted people to cope with the aftermath of fiscal collapse, nuclear holocaust, the eruption of Yellowstone, solar flares, and so on.
The New York Times noted with outrage that many of these people were accumulating guns and ammunition in order to defend their 1,500 pounds of MREs and dried brown rice, but stockpiling guns is fine with me. My concern is that most of them seem pretty inexpert with guns. One prepper was counting on a Ruger Number One single-shot which, despite its many splendid qualities, is not what you’d pick to blast the mob at your door. Another managed to shoot off several fingers during a practice session. Yet a third, a resident of the Oligarchy of Bloomberg, took lessons in knife fighting because he was unable to get a gun, ignoring the fact that everyone in the Oligarchy of Bloomberg who wants a gun has one, or several, and when the pistol-waving mob comes to this fellow’s apartment I don’t think that he and his knife will last long.