Here’s How Easy It Is To Die In The Wilderness

Too easy. Because Mother Nature will kill you the first chance she gets!

Are you wondering why these allegations about the primary resource for the whole humanity?

Read the following article to see how easy is to die in the wilderness if you are not prepared to face and resist Mother Nature’s challenges.

Last month, 62 year Miyuki Harwood was in good shape for her age. But that didn’t matter much when she felt the rocks move and slide from under her feet on the mountain side trail she was hiking on in the unforgiving Sierra Nevada wilderness.

Her fall wasn’t really far by adventurous standards. Only around six or eight feet down the slope. But the next thing she knew she was upside down, dizzy, and immobilized with mind exploding excruciating pain in her badly compound fractured leg… For some reason she had separated from her fellow hikers all participating in an extended trail trip organized by the Sierra Club and was alone when she fell.

This was her first mistake. But there were other serious ones. She laid there in agony without moving for at least two days but then her prayers were answered just in time to prevent imminent death by dehydration.

She somehow heard the sound of water coming from further down the ravine, and with intrepid courage she willed herself to drag her battered body inch by painful inch to the water source. The good thing was that she didn’t have to make an effort to boil or purify the stream water because she had one of those small straw filters on her and used that.

Then she laid there, weak and hungry, and due to dangerous mountain flying conditions from clouds and smoke from a nearby forest fire, search aircraft never spotted her.

Once more she was miraculously granted a reprieve on her death sentence with the help of a two dollar survival whistle which she managed to sound loud enough to attract search party hikers in the distance.

She was in bad shape when they finally reached her more than a week after she disappeared. And the search party leader said that someone injured that seriously without proper supplies doesn’t usually make it for as long as she lasted, unless rescued immediately.

Miyuki Harwood was fortunate. On the Eastern side of the continent during the same month in Vancouver Canada, 69 year old Sylvia Apps, also an even more experienced backwoods hiker, with good wilderness map and compass navigational skills, was not so lucky. She was not found for over two weeks and the exhaustive search was called off after finding only her scattered backpack, but no trace of Sylvia. Nobody wants to say it, but large bears and other predators are all over the area in the summer time.

But these incidents are far from rare and unusual. In fact they are way too common these days. What do these two experienced hikers and so many others constantly do wrong? Is it really that dangerous to go camping and hiking in the back woods and mountains?

What are we missing here?

Mother Nature’s Dirty Little Secret

Mother Nature is a self-confessed serial killer. But why would she want you dead? Isn’t she supposed to represent all that is wonderful about the outdoors and wildlife and the beauty of our existence on Earth?

Well, that may have been the Divine plan a long time ago, before old Satan snaked into the Garden of Eden and messed it up enough for God to evict the humans who couldn’t understand simple instructions. Then he let the garden become a wilderness, overgrown with monster foliage and rocks and pests and inclement weather, bad enough to forever remind the sinners of their terminal indiscretions.

When He put Mother Nature in charge, it wasn’t necessarily to protect the humans from the elements of Nature; it was to protect Nature from the abuse by the wasteful obsessive compulsive consumption from out of control people.

As time evolved, the human species and the wilderness grew and spread, and people learned, for the most part, how to respect nature a little more and even exist in peaceful harmony and mutual beneficial integration to some extent.

But eventually the weak and selfish humans managed to persist in their apathetic narcissistic rituals to continuously defile the planet without any concern for self-sustaining philosophy and protection of the natural habitat. They continued to avariciously rape and pillage the land so Mother Nature is just defending herself.

Here are the main ways she’ll do it, and how your complacency and ignorance will actually assist in your own “suicide” by “natural causes‘.

  1. Dangerous Terrain

AppalachianWhen the U.S. government was closing in on UBL in the ‘badlands’ of Afghanistan/Pakistan, it was deeply entrenched in mountainous terrain so rough and impassible that even highly trained special forces troops couldn’t negotiate it to any useful approach.

There are similar and even more formidable wilderness areas in America’s deep forest and mountain areas which to this day no modern humans have likely set foot due to sheer magnitude of the greatly inhospitable terrains.

It’s not easy to describe intensely rugged back woods and mountains when comparing to more user friendly forests such as in the Midwest areas. You have to experience the difference, for several hours to appreciate what I mean when I say that what you don’t know about very serious terrain will definitely kill you.

Don’t think you can come right off your regular municipal Park Forest preserves jogging trail right into Appalachian back woods and act like there’s no difference. Even the so-called user friendly established trails of foot hills are highly dangerous.

The term “terrain” itself is deceiving. Your local Park Forest preserves is technically terrain. And the Washington State foothills and vast back woods wilderness is just euphemistically described as rugged or dense terrain. But they are far more than that. Areas like this stretch throughout the country from coast to coast, many only a stone’s throw from modern municipalities.

So the first thing that can injure you and/or get you lost, is the severe, unfamiliar terrain. Which ranges from vast deserts of virtually nothing but endless sand and rocks as far as the eye can see to deep backwoods and hills, so dense and thick and confusing that you can walk for merely a hundred yards and immediately get turned around and lost, and drifting in circles until you drop, without practiced navigational skills land equipment.

All these areas are nothing less than traps waiting for the unsuspecting “human flies” to be captured, tortured, and killed.

The second or third reason serious wilderness is so bad is because of how difficult is to move around, tripping and stumbling over never ending obstacles.

It’s so hard to travel over if you get detoured off a road or foot trail, that it then becomes only a matter of a short time before you get lost, fall down in critical condition, exhausted and exposed to all sorts of bad things, then deceased and put on the menu for midnight scavenger dining, and never to be seen again.

  1. Dangerous Animals, Insects, and Poisonous Plants

No need to go into extensive listing detail here. There are plenty of resources to search and read about some evening if you want to scare yourself awake until dawn. If you went down in a plane crash landing in the middle of the African, Asian, or South American jungles and survived it uninjured, you’ll likely still die in a few hours of exposure of the third kind, even though it’s a balmy 80 degrees temperature even at night.

If the deadly slithering snakes and poisonous creepy crawlers don’t kill you, and you managed to avoid other things you thought existed only in science fiction horror moviesthe blowflies will eventually get you. Instead of biting you in the standard painful way, they are like mosquitoes.

You don’t know you’ve been bitten until you feel the itching and the little bump on your skin, only it won’t be just a little bump. It will be the size of a golf ball because the larva is now growing under your skin and eating you alive.

As you scratch and bleed, releasing the chomping larva, which will then seek other orifices to crawl into while your blood scent will attract clouds of more blowflies, and you will soon be unrecognizable, even to the vultures and scavengers watching you patiently right before you die.

Even in the Southern U.S., especially the backwoods swamps and wetlands, there are insects, animal predators, and plants that are potentially a deadly threat within a 100 foot radius of virtually anywhere you walk. It’s not by coincidence that a substantial amount of missing persons reports might include the notation that they like to go on long walks in the back woods areas.

The denizens of the wilderness have no mercy. And don’t even get me started on Big Foots and Squatches.

  1. Deadly Weather Conditions

Again, it’s not necessary here to reiterate what you know almost every time you see one of the numerous news reports on rescuing victims. Invariably weather was a co-conspirator. And virtually everybody, despite seemingly being the No.1 topic around the water cooler, is “clueless in Cleveland” when it comes to weather. Everybody always says “…it looks like a nice day for a day trip into the national park, I think I’ll hop into the car with my mountain bike and go enjoy it on some wilderness trail!”

They never seem to care that weather as little as 10 miles away can be completely different once they get there. It happens especially in hills near the base of mountain ranges on the coast, where even on real roads, flash floods, severe micro bursts, and mud and rock slides and avalanches and ‘what not’ will take you out in the blink of a blinded eye.

A week ago travelers along a road in the Utah/Arizona canyon country failed to even heed a direct warnings about the potential of heavy flash flood producing rains along their travel route, and at least 9 people including children were killed when their vehicles were washed away by rapidly overwhelming flood water. They chose to take a chance. After all, it started out being such a nice day. It was the last chance for some of them. 

  1. Mother Nature Assisted Suicide

teepee It’s bad enough to take a serious risk by venturing where you shouldn’t be going unless you are a trained survivalist or rescue person, but to be totally ill prepared–like most victims are–is like tossing yourself naked on the wilderness sacrificial altar.

The primary danger of the elements of nature is its opposition to the personal comfort and health of your skin and bones. Finding yourself in a wilderness predicament where you are also exposed to everything the Old Girl can throw in the first place at you, is not conductive to survival.

Most preppers know that water is not the 1st primary necessity in the immediate survival emergency situation as former mythology implied. You can have all the food and water you need, but if  you are not secured from the elements and predators, it might not matter.

And you can go a couple days without water, longer without food, but NOT even a couple hours in open exposure to severe weather conditions without shelter/warmth.

Just as a sidebar rule reminder, it’s safety/shelter first, then security (weapons/tools), then water, then food.

When they find the remains of missing campers or hikers the usual determination of death will include the word exposure. Whether it was heat stroke or hypothermia, or predator attack, the rudimentary precaution of creating a secure shelter a.s.a.p. was not a factor in their survival attempt and became their primary fatal mistake.

The irony here is compared to that famous old sailor saying “water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”. The wilderness usually provides enough material for a basic viable trail adventure, IF you have good survival training skills and know what you are doing. But besides that, there is absolutely no excuse for not ALWAYS having one or two of those small cheap weightless pocket reflective Mylar Space Blankets on you when going anywhere at all outside the immediate breast of civilization.

They can be used as a rain cover, a rain catcher, or a solar still. I also have a larger sleeping bag version and one man “tube pup tent” made out of the same stuff that is folded no larger than a paperback book in my BOB.

In the wild, due to sometimes drastically fluctuating temperatures from daytime to night in many areas, it is imperative to immediately stay warm. And if it becomes cold and rainy at night, building a fire might not be that easy, especially if you are not skilled at it.

As you see, there are a lot of factors that you need to consider before taking on your next wilderness adventure. It’s up to you if you want to be safe, have a good time and get back home just with the memories or you want a shot at “fame” and have your name on the first page of the local newspaper in the “Remembering” section.

Interested in how to improve you medical survival skills? CLICK HERE to find out!


Written by

Mahatma Muhjesbude is a former Spec-ops combat Vet, LEO, international security consultant, and private contractor. He has instructor level credentials and skills in various survival disciplines. He is a dedicated advocate of Liberty and Justice for all and a proactive defender of our Constitutional rights. He strongly believes that the best value you can give back in life is vital knowledge through experience, and that's why he's writing for Survivopedia, using a pen name to protect his real identity. You can send Mahatma a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • Mahatma, thanks for the post. Great reality check.
    Some years ago I purchased a survival knife, hollow handle with a small compass cap that screws on. Inside it came stuffed with various items for survival, water proof matches, fishing line, band aids, fish hooks, small ointment packets, triple antibiotic and itch cream. However it did not have any cord or anything to use as weather protection. Going through one of my first aid kits one day I had picked up one of the Mylar blankets you mentioned, for som reason the way I was holding it in my hand, absent mindedly while arraigning other items I realized that I had folded it in a semi circle in my fist. Then it struck me that the shape of the circle was about the size of my knife, so I tried it and it wrapped perfectly part way around the handle, my next thought was how can I keep it there and protected from damage. I then started wrapping it to the handle with 50/50 cord, I was able to make two complete tight wraps the length of the handle. Now the handle is a bit larger than designed for comfort but the knife is still manageable.
    I hope like heck that I never have a reason to unwrap the cord and use the blanket but it’s a relief to know they are with me.

  • A well-written article. Every point made is one that too many people overlook, whether by accident or arrogance. Too many wander into Nature and think they’re prepared for everything. Even when I go camping in a well-known area, I always take some essential emergency supplies with me, and I pay close attention to my surroundings, including the weather.
    You just never know what can happen.

  • Most folk have what I call “the sun is shining all over the world” mentality. I first noticed it when I worked for a commuter airline. Mummy and Daddy would bring little Johnny and Suzy to the airport to fly as unaccompanied minors. Our rules stated that we would only accept children traveling alone if the weather at their destination was optimal. When told that Boston or NYC was zero/zero and we were not accepting children for travel the parents inevitably flipped out like I was lying to them because “well the sun is shining here.” I can only imagine that people with this mentality do not let a weather report about blizzards, fog, tsunamis, or anything else mother nature wants to bitch slap them with deter them from setting off (cause, you know, someone will rescue them if something goes wrong) never mind that said rescuers are now put in danger too. Yeah – go ahead – climb Everest.

  • I read many of the ways we may die if confronted with the situation of being in the woods and confronted by a life threatening situation. Realistically how many people will be n the woods and how many will be in a life threatening situation? I see so much time spent on survival for the woods and the truth is clear that most will never be in the woods. Why is so much print time spent on this? To me we must prioritize the problems that will occurred and then the ones that may. I concur that we must be prepared but for what type and to what degree and for the most plausible. I understand that the conditions are a large variable that must be determined so the degree of preparedness can be as complete as possible. My poor explanation is why I feel that the determination of the threats and dangers and then provide the best possible way for survival. I see the “experts”who have all the answers that say that to survive you must have “this” equipment” and then we have the miracle survival tool in a can. My short response to this type of preparation, Horse puckey. One may put a bandage and some antibacterial salve in a can along with some matches that wold do the job but to cram an entire survival set that would perform in wet cold conditions with hands that are forze and hurt you will die. The only other thig that would be useful at this point would be a pen and paper so you could say goodbye to your loved ones and write your last will and testament. Americans have devolved intellectually to the point that we expect everything to be cured by a pill and the quick fix that fits in your pocket. How do we make people see that dangers are just that an cannot be handled by a kit that fits in your pocket All the devices that are the most creative cannot be compared to knowledge that weighs nothing an takes no space. he efforts that are put into the creation of the bug out bags and for what? Where will you go? never see articles on where do you plan to go and how will you get there? I can see keeping one in the car so it would help you get home from work. If we had thousands out seeking a place to go then your chances would be small for you are competing for the same resources. Well I will ask as always am I making any sense? I look at things with a different perspective for I am now seventy five and have limited mobility. I represent he percentage with the highest mortality rate. The arrival of the emergency’s are never planed but when one has options and can implement them your chances for survival go up. It is the unforeseen that will kill you. f you are competing for road space and many who are frightened and unskilled at driving where do you want to be? In your car and on the road with panicky people or making decisions that will save time and your life. The only thing that can be guaranteed is that there is no guarantees. It will be up to the individual to save themselves because government will be busy saving itself. So I guess I will ask the question where do we start? The answers will be so long and complicated that they wont allow them here. I must find a way to publish my thoughts so I can get response to my rants and get some good advice. Any Ideas?

    • If you are not able to leave your home (shelter), it reduces what you need for preparation. Consider finding a nearby person or people who are like minded and develop a plan for working as a team to share resources and come together if danger seems likely.

  • @Grandpa: you ask where do we start? you write you wish to publish your thoughts.

    it appears you are doing fine.

    You published here. Maybe you can do writing? this site allows? keep trying until you make it!

  • We walk trails in city parks or in other parks that have regular walking trails close by, some away in state parks, some have asphalt trails, nothing like mountains or rough terrain. Those women were up in years, should have gone on safe walking trails like we do. With bears and mt. lions, wolves, etc. in areas they were in, that alone is risky. Anyone is a fool not to stay with the group or hike alone.

  • I know that in the prepper/survivalist world the saying goes one is none and two is one but sometime we just have to make do with what we have. So I can say that at all times I am some what prepared, because I always have a Bic in my pocket and a multi-tool and a gun on my belt, so if not seriously injured, I will be able to build a fire and if needed a shelter and with the gun I’ll have protection from predation and possibly food. So if you travel or recreate in nature atleast always have some basic survival items with you. Trekker Out.

  • Okay … I read the October Article first and then this one.

    The primary question i have is based on the following; “For some reason she had separated from her fellow hikers all participating in an extended trail trip organized by the Sierra Club and was alone when she fell.”

    This woman was hiking with others when she fell. What happened to the “others” that they did not realize sometime or other that one of the members of their group “disappeared”? There might be an excuse out there for this woman to then spend “more than a week” before being found but I cannot conceive of one. Further, I would never contemplate hiking with a group that was that unreliableto begin with.

    • I agree with Tom. The Sierra Club hikers should have stopped as soon as they realized that one of them was missing, and spoke with each of the hikers to find out where they were the last time they remember seeing her. Then they should have immediately back-tracked the trail to that point, to find her. You never leave someone that is part of your group behind!

    • That was the point of the article. There are a lot of dangerous variables in this recreational endeavor. People don’t always get rescued that fast, depends on a lot of factors. I did S&R first responding for a while. In fact it’s so common an occurance that the only ones that make the news are the ones that do get rescued quickly and dramatically.. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks, Too many are not found until weeks and often months later, or Never. See that documentary or the book series 411 on you tube. Also, there were so many missing hikers ever when with a group that ;caused Obama to allow firearms carry in the National forests. because Big Cats were picking them off the group hikes so fast that nobody saw or knew unless the person immediately started screaming. A large Mountain line can pick off a smaller hiker on the run and nobody would know it if he was the last one in line On a trail hike there’s sufficient foot and brush and wind noise and heaving grunting and breathing to cover a slip and fall if there was no yell or other noise. lIt wold sound just like anyone else stomping or scraping on the trail. A few minutes down or up the trail, especially in wooded mountainous terrain, and if the wind is strong enough you wouldn’t hear the shouting for help. Reliability isn’t the issue. Skill training and knowledge Rules. Otherwise stick to your local forest preserve biking and jogging trails. But carry a pistol. You have a lot of dangerous two legged predators.