Posted: 6/2/2010 6:47:13 PM EDT
OK, here goes. Thought I would post a survival trip of a lifetime (for me). I have repeated myself in a few places, so bear with me. This is a compilation of some thought mostly on gear. A mission trip to the Huaodani people. They live deep in the Amazon jungle in Ecuador. I have mid level experience in general outdoor stuff (no survival guru at all), but minimal jungle knowledge. These guys are truly survivors. They are still hunter/gatherers, and live off the land. I learned so much from them in just the few days we stayed. We are the first outsiders who have ever been allowed to stay in their village. We were treated wonderfully. Awesome trip, and a few pictures for good measure.
3 Huaodani warriors. The one on the left is Gabriel...the village chief/leader. And yes, he can hit a bird at 20 yds with that blow gun!! The one on the right is hold the 8-9' spear. They use that for war or hunting large game. The fat bald guy in the middle who they decided to put war paint on is me.
This next one is Pedye. He took a liking to me for some reason. His uncle is one of the ones who killed the missionaries back in '56 (movie "End Of The Spear" was taken from this event).
One more just cause I thought it was interesting. Gabriel wanted to go hunting for us, so he took his single shot 16ga (yep, surprised me too) and went for a meal. What can I say, I have eaten monkey!!
The knives I took with me were the Scrapyard Scrapper 5 CG with black/black, and a BlindHorse knives Boat tail scandi. The Scrapper 5 was the absolute brute of the trip. I carried it in a Rainwalker kydex sheath with the "X" loop. Several other members brought knives, but most were the Wally World S&W blades. I was going to give a knife as a present, but there were 7 of us and everyone else had the same idea. Well, I used the SY 5 for everything. The ladies kept asking for it in the "kitchen", and everyone on the trail had me chop them a walking stick after seeing how much help it was in the extremely muddy trails. The blade had a bit of rust develope in the polished cutting edge, but it never slowed down. We hiked 6 hrs in torrential rain on the way in and on the way out. It was harder than the 2 marathons I have been in, but I am also not in the shape I should have been.
Just a word on the BHK Boat tail scandi. I love blindhorse knives also. Real quality stuff. But let me just say that 4 days of rain and heat/humidity in a leather sheath was aweful for that little 1095 blade. The coating on the S5 really payed off.
OK, I will add some tonight as I sit and ponder. I am not a very experienced hiker. 5-10 miler here and there on level ground. Went straight into vet school, no military experience, so bear with me and don't think I am too stupid!!
First off is 50+ lbs was WAY TOO MUCH. This old fat boy is going to drop about 40 lbs from my gut and MAX my pack out at 30 next time. I was no where near in shape enough for the hike. 4.7 miles of up, down, cross river waist to chest deep, then up (sometimes with hands and knees), down, cross river, torrential rain...Let me just say I have a completely new found respect for any vet who has served in the jungle.
Anyway, poncho was worthless. I overheated within 20 minutes and just walked in the rain to help cool off. About 80-85 degrees. I took 3 pair of clothes in dry bags, and wore blue jeans in. Jeans ended up being a mistake, but I didn't know how rough the trail would be for briars and such. Come to find out, it was a well traveled trail (by the natives) and they keep it macheted back. I packed the Magellan jungle type pants and shirt, synthetic, and they were fine. Breathed well, and dry quickly on the line when the sun was shining. Our missionary supplied rubber boots and I was hesitant but took his advice. This was about the only bad advice he gave me. We filled the boots on the first river crossing and my feet stayed totally soaked the whole trip. I should have worn my broken in hunting boots with no socks from the start. When I got to camp I had a blister the size of a 50 cent piece on my right heel. But, since I wore the rubber boots in, I carried my hunting boots and a pair of crocs tied to the outside of the pack.
I took 5 lbs of home made jerky (yup, 5lbs). A bit excessive, but the Huaodani loved it. Also had about 5-6 lbs of hard candy. My med kit is also about 5 lbs. Too much I know, but on another trip to the Ukraine I ended up caring for one of my team members who had gotten hurt in a car wreck, so I over do that. A Garmin GPS (which was dunken in rivers, soaked on a daily basis, and never missed a beat), cheapo 8 meg digital camera, and a very compact Samsung digital video camera. Bible and journaling material. 18" Ontario machete. Knives were a Scrapyard Scrapper 5 and Blindhorse Knives Boat Tail Scandi. (S5 was great, but the little 1095 Blindhorse bade in a leather sheath REALLY didn't like the rainy, wet environment). 2 bic lighters, a mischmetal fire steel, and a diamond stick sharpener.
Large container of alcohol gel (12oz). I found some SPF 90 sunscrene spray, and some polymerized DEET ointment tubes for sun and bug protection. Toiletries, and such. 4 ft of gorilla tape on an old credit card. Poncho, sunglasses, cap and 2 dewrags. Superthin watch, 2 one liter polycarbonate cantenes on belt carriers. An old timer pocket knife and a Leatherman Skeletool. About 25 foot of paracord and about 100 ft of a braided polymer line about the size of 20lb monofiliment that was about 60lb test. Oh, also had the Kifaru field chair. I took one of the Fenix CR123 A flashlights and a good head lamp.
Bed material had been carried in for us and consisted of 3" mattresses under bug nets. We slept in a building in the village that was 2' off the ground.
That is all that I can think of, but I will be paring down a good bit before making that trek again.
Things I would change. One good (I mean GOOD knife) and maybe a multitool. Ziplocs for clothes storage instead of dry bags. Much smaller med kit, and maybe some dehydrated food. Kids loved the candy, but WAY too much when you carry it on your back. Wear your best boot knowing you are going to get soaked the whole way. Small bottle alcohol gel. No spray bottles of anything (OK, maybe pump spray would be OK, not aerosol). I LOVE Blind Horse Knives, but the little 1095 was a rust bucket. Not suited for jungle environment. Jeans, no.
Good things; Scrapyard S5; brute of a knife. Did all my heavy lifting and could do without a machete (although a machete would have been best). Jerky was real handy (just not so much :-). Paracord, very handy. Kifaru X-ray...a tad heavy, but looks just like it did when I left. Didn't phase it one bit. Expedition type clothes were good, dried quickly and vents really helped. Dew rags were a lifesaver. I went without one for one morning, and being bald, the flies drove me absolutely insane. They didn't bite, but were CONSTANTLY landing on me and walking around. I mean like 15-20 at a time. DEET didn't phase them, but head covering saved my sanity. Cameras were a pain, but I wouldn't go on a trip like this without some way to take pics. Small bible was great, but my eyes are having trouble with that tiny print. I was the only one who brought cantenes. One of our group brought a camelback bladder, but everyone else carried bottle water. Most said they wanted at least 2 liters of water for the next trip.
Also, hiking sticks. I made myself one with the Scrapper 5 at the start of the hike. I was picked on a bit initially (old man need a walking stick - our group is like that, great guys, but like to pick) but very shortly I had made sticks for 4 out of 7 of us, and the other 3 had picked up one of their own. Treacherous footing on some of those hills.
What I wish I had taken. Forgot my stinking gloves. Alot of the trees in the jungle look like they have fur......it is not fur......it is a blanket of thorns. Really nasty. And punctures like to get infected in the wet nasty environment. Also, my Hennessey Hammock would have been great if my pack had been light. Hammock, bug net, and silnylon tarp would all be handy to have. Salt, pepper, and a tad of tobasco would have been great.
Hope this isn't too long winded, but just what came to mind. I will be glad to share any more someone might think is worth asking about.
That was an interesting movie ,thanks for the pics.