From time to time A.S.E. is fortunate enough to hear stories of how our products have helped improve the lives of our customers. Unlike action-packed stories from Hollywood, survival situations are rarely predictable and a happy ending is not guaranteed. The story we present here is a verbatim account of the writer and his spouse as they cope with a dangerous situation using determination and self-awareness. They take through the moment they discovered (as many others have) how quickly things can change and what they did to ensure they survived.
Personal names and identifiers have been changed, but the story has not been embellished or detracted from truth in any way. Read and learn from someone who has been there... not just because they used our Survival products, but because they had the foresight to prepare for an emergency.
"Dear Best Glide,
I wanted to email you today to tell you what great survival kits you have! They are truly superb. I've had a lot of different kits in the past, and I really favor yours.
In fact, one of your kits saved my life and I would like to share the story with you. It's a bit long, so I hope you have the time to read it. I would love to hear back from you, so please read on!
Okay, here goes... where to start...
In April 2013, me and my wife set out on what was supposed to be a pleasant weekend stay in a remote cabin, about 20 miles outside the city of Juneau, Alaska. The cabin itself was a good 8 miles from the nearest road, which was seldom driven down at that time of year.
At that point, we had only lived in Southern Alaska for about a year, and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
Each with about 60 - 70 pounds of gear on our backs, we started the hike through the woods which took us down a winding path up around a mountainside. Although seasoned hikers and both physically fit, we knew almost immediately that we had made the mistake of overpacking for our trip, myself especially, and the extra weight on our backs was feeling heavy and cumbersome.
Half way through the hike we had worked our way around the side of the wooded mountain. The opposite side was still thick with snowfall from earlier in the month, something we had not anticipated, and as we continued the snow-laden ground seemed to get deeper and deeper. Soon enough, it was almost impossible to make out where the trail was and we were using our map, compass and intuition to guide us to this fabled cabin – a place reportedly far from the trappings of civilization and a great place for a romantic getaway.
We were wading knee deep in snow with heavy gear. Every other "wade" seemed to land me in a spot off the hidden track and my leg would plummet down into the hardened snow right up to my waist. It was painful. Trying to pull ourselves out of these pits was sapping every ounce of energy from our bodies, and with me being about 80% heavier than my girl, weighting in at a muscular 195 lbs., I was falling deeper, harder and with more regularity into these waist-high ice pits.
2 hours in to the hike and the going was intensely slow. We had stopped to drink, eat a little, and replenish our energies, but the clouds overhead had darkened considerably and a blizzard was upon us. As the hail and wind thrashed across our already tired faces, the succession of minor leg and knee injuries from my falls was enough to make me want to call the whole thing off.
It was at that time that I'd remembered the quality of "mental toughness" that the Army had helped instill in me all those years ago, and so, hoping that the worst was soon to be over, we pushed on.
D, my partner, was looking exhausted but slightly better for wear than I, and surprisingly it was I who found myself relying more on her to pull me through the difficult hike than the other way around.
Fall after fall, and cut knee after cut knee, we found ourselves questioning our navigation skills. "Surely this has been more than 8 miles?" " This has been the longest 8 miles of my life." "Did we go the wrong way?" "Can you even read a map?" "I'm trusting you." "Maybe I was wrong, maybe my map-reading isn't up to par" "What if we took a wrong turn?" "How far is the cabin from here?" "Didn't we already pass this tree stump a mile back?" "Should we call for a helicopter evacuation?"
All these questions ran through our minds, some of those thoughts even came out of our mouths as the minus 20-degree wind tightened its grip on our chilled bodies.
I fell once more into a pit, this particular one was so deep, worse than any trench you can imagine, more of a big hole really. My knee was in a bad way. The only way I could haul myself out was by ditching half the stuff in my pack.
It was seven hours before we reached the cabin.
A tiny little hut perched on the edge of a frozen lake, in an open clearing of the colossal Tongass National Forest. The lake was ice, over that, we guessed, perhaps 4 feet of fresh powder snow. Lucky the cabin looked out on the lake and we didn't have to cross the lake to get there.
By the time, we had reached the cabin, it was dusk and all our water supplies had been exhausted. We literally fell in through the front door and collapsed. I awoke an hour later to the sound of my partner trying to get a fire going. Nothing in the cabin seemed to work. There was barely anything substantial inside with which to survive, other than a few small pieces of wood. A log book lay in the corner, with a story from each person who had visited. Mainly nice stories of people who had come in the Summer and had fun. I could tell that this trip wasn't going to be among those pleasant entries.
I used the survival matches in my Military Scout Survival Tin to ignite some tinder and get the kindling going. We threw on whatever logs we had to get some warmth into the place. We now had shelter, we had fire (for the time being), our next priority was water.
My partner decided it might be wise to search for water before we went to sleep. We needed to find a water source. My leg had been injured during the trip there, and I could barely walk. I gave her the whistle from my survival kit, along with a battery-powered flashlight and told her not to go too far. I wish I could have gone with her, and staying in the cabin while she ventured out seemed to drain all the manhood and morale from me. But I couldn't risk further injury.
While she was gone, I checked our phones – of course, needless to say there was no signal all the way out here, and despite one friend back in town who knew where we were heading, we had no way to contact the outside world.
She came back half an hour later looking pale and weak – no water.
Our water supplies were out but luckily our food wasn't. We had packed enough for 3 days – all "boil-in-the-bag" type food in those sachets similar to Army rations.
The next day, my leg felt slightly better after the night's rest. We awoke and made the decision to cut wood from surrounding trees and boil snow for water. It may take three times more energy to break snow down to into water, and then boil it, but we had no choice.
The blizzard was largely over, but it was still cold. The surrounding snow was muddy, filthy and covered in debris from the trees. The cleanest snow looked to be over the top of the frozen lake, but standing on the iced-over lake would have been a foolhardy idea. So that morning, I edged myself across the lakes' surface, laying flat on my belly, crawling and scooping.
We had snow, clean snow. Now all we needed was wood.
I used the wire saw in my Best Glide survival kit to saw low lying branches from nearby evergreens and haul them back to the cabin, where we sawed them into smaller pieces. By lunchtime, my work was done, and we were able to start fire, boil water and eat our food, thanks to a little ingenuity and my survival kit.
That night the weather calmed to an almost serene stillness. Frozen breath lingered in the air as you spoke like it would stay there for an eternity, and the moon shone down its approval on us. Across the lake, the howling of a small pack of wolves was audible.
On Sunday, after having taken the time to repair and replenish our bodies, we did a stock take of our equipment and decided that the time was now. The weather was good, and had been so for 12 hours. But it could turn bad again at a moment's notice, so if we wanted to get out of here and back to civilization then we must make haste while we are in good spirits and sound health.
We knew the trek back would be blisteringly painstaking. But after the challenges we had endured over the previous 48 hours, it did not seem as bad. No blizzard. No wind. Just cold and waist-deep snow, which thinned out to bare soil the closer we were to getting home. The sun was out and shining, telling everyone what a joyous day it was to be alive. Half way down the trail, the snowy section ended and the trail was visible once more.
It took us 4 hours on the way back, not 7, and as we reached the final mile, 3 ladies hiked towards us, chatting, one of them casually holding a cup of Starbucks and preparing to do a morning hike to a cabin they'd heard about by word of mouth.
But, little did they know what they were getting themselves into. Would the weather change on them? Just like us 3 days ago... would this hike, for them, be an utterly life-changing experience?
So, I guess that is the end of story. I really owe it to your kit. I do not know what we would have done without your kit on me – buying and bringing the military scout pocket survival tin on that trip was probably the best decision I ever made.
As you can imagine, because of this, I am a huge fan of your products and now, one year on, I try to make a habit of learning and practicing general survival skills whenever I have the time, because it's true when they say "you just never know..."
The only minor grievance I had of my kit was when we traveled south through the U.S. in early 2014, the weather was naturally warmer, and the beeswax candles melted in the tin all over the other equipment and spoiled some of them. Unfortunately, I had to eventually ditch the kit.
Perhaps, as some constructive advice, you might be able to start packaging the candles in a small plastic baggie or ziploc to prevent this?
Earlier this year, we relocated from Alaska to the beach town of B Y here in Virginia. Quite a change from the wilds of Alaska, you might say. It's not as beautiful here, much more urban and a bit more polluted than I'd hoped for, but we do still enjoy camping and trekking during our weekends off.
In fact, I'm planning us a weeklong trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in about a month or so. And I would love to be able to take something from Best Glide along with me. I would be a great pleasure to receive something from you, just for kicks.
I want to wish the Best Glide team all the very best. Keep up the great work, and know that your kits are saving lives out there in some form or another.
B. (Former Soldier and Survivalist)"
When we received this letter, we felt a great deal of enthusiasm and relief, for many reasons. The writer and his wife had survived a difficult situation with optimism and self-determination. We began our business with the hopes of making sure more people have the survival items they need, when they need them. Although we would like everyone to purchase their survival equipment from Best Glide A.S.E. Inc., simply knowing people have the knowledge and gear they need is our number one goal - no matter where they obtained it.
We salute P. and D.'s determination and attention to their preparations. This couple took the time to examine their plans and build an adequate survival kit before their adventure. Not only did they prepare themselves with the right equipment, they used their knowledge and creativity to solve problems as they came along. This couple exemplifies the survival mentality: creative survival skills, calm mentality, and knowledge of their equipment. This letter, as well as thousands of other stories, demonstrates the point of the adage "Fortune Favors the Prepared".
As a side note, we took P.B.'s suggestion to heart and now ALL Best Glide A.S.E. Inc. Survival Kits / Tins that have beeswax candles as part of the kit are now shipped within zip-close type plastic baggies. We encourage anyone who has used our equipment in a time of emergency to let us know about their experiences. Sharing your experiences helps us all learn from each other.
“Fortuna favet præparaverat”
This entry was posted on June 3, 2014 by Patrick Carey.