How YouTube Sucked Me in: Everest, K2, and the Canadian Bush

By  (contrib. Web Heretics)

YouTube's inference engine can lead you into some pretty strange places. For me, a guy checking out RV's, it was Everest, the Yukon, and the wilds of Vancouver Island.

Near the end of one the coldest, wettest Utah winters on record, I had just a touch of cabin fever and felt the need to get out, maybe experience the outdoors. Because I’m past my “roughing it in the wild” days, my inclination was to buy some kind of an RV. To this end, I took to YouTube to learn about market options.

Then, based on my interest in RVs, YouTube’s inference engine began suggesting crazy stuff, like climbing Mt. Everest, K2, and Kilimanjaro. For the record, I might die doing something stupid, but it won’t be scaling an icy cliff at 28 thousand feet. Just the same, I became fascinated by the adrenaline types who do get off on this sort of thing, and I’ve now spent untold hours watching these crazies risk their lives for a "selfie on the summit."

Then YouTube started serving up survival videos, the need for which I can’t imagine having. Just the same, a video about Ed Wardle’s 90-day self exile to Canada’s Yukon territory captured my imagination. Think of itliving off the land with a small-caliber rifle and a fishing pole. It was emotional, visceral, and captivating.  The constant threat of bears, sleeplessness, mosquitoes the size of blow flies, near starvation . . . . Wardle was finally able to kill and eat a porcupine. It looked awful. He said it was awful, but the guy was starving to death. Still, the worst of it, according to Wardle was the absolute solitude, no human contact of any kind. It left him in tears multiple times during the one hour recap of his adventure. It’s the kind of cathartic experience you just can’t get from “must see TV.”

But the adventure with which I identify most is Survival Lily’s “Alone in the Canadian Wilderness.” (See the video at the top of the page.) Dropped by helicopter to a remote spot on Vancouver Island, Lily spends seven days, mostly surviving off the land. Just as with Wardle, Lilly’s biggest threat is bears, and she provides lots of tips for how to keep them at bay. But what I found most interesting was her attempts to gather food.

I grew up catching crayfish (crawdads, we called them), which make for a good meal, assuming you’ve got like fifty of them and a vat of melted butter for dipping. And I began fly fishing as a young boy and spent a lifetime perfecting the art. So watching Lily, who knows more about survival than I ever will, try to catch crawdads and trout was both painful and entertaining. Just the same, I found the whole thing gripping, start to finish.

Long story short, I’ve got a new item on my bucket list—spend a week alone on Vancouver Island living off the land. I’ll take my corgi to scare away the bears. Likewise, I’ll have multiple fly rod/reel combos and enough drys to match any conceivable hatch, so food won’t really be a problem. The biggest challenge, I suppose, will be helicopter delivery of my RV into the Canadian bush.


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