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What it’s like to spend two nights alone in the forest with no food, water, or shelter BY TYLER FOX It’s been 15 years since the show Survivor first aired, and the “survival” craze is still going strong. Naked and Afraid, Man vs. Wild, Survival Man—the list of programs crowding TV channels just continues to grow. Whether Hollywood is trying to prepare us for impending doom or these “back to basics” reality shows simply rake in the big bucks, they got me thinking: “Could I do that?” When I bump into Cliff Hodges, owner of Santa Cruz-based outdoor school Adventure Out and badass survivalist in his own right, and mention that I want to test my wits in the wild, he is quick to lend a helping hand. I bring up the idea of spending two nights alone in the wilderness with no food, water or shelter. It’s doable, he says, but it would probably be a good idea to take a oneday wilderness survival course first. A couple of weeks later, I find myself at Adventure Out’s Wilderness Skills & Survival Clinic, learning how to build a debris hut, find and purify water, forage for food, and make fire with sticks, among other useful skills. My newfound knowledge is empowering, and the thought of actually putting these skills to the test gives me goose bumps. Fast forward 10 days, and it’s time to do just that. With a location picked, bag packed and co-workers notified, I make my way to meet Cliff in Boulder Creek. On the drive up to our confidential meeting location, I sip on now-lukewarm coffee and try to keep the butterflies at bay with some turned-up Taylor Swift. As I pull into the parking lot, I see Cliff talking on the phone and pacing back and forth. He smiles and gestures that he’ll be off in a second. I use the time to double-check my backpack. Bow-drill fire-starting kit—check. Sharp carving knife—check. Wooden water bowl—check. Iodine tablets—check. GoPro—check. With my few necessities accounted for I lock my car and head over to greet Cliff. “Morning buddy, you ready for this?” he asks, smiling. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” I joke, hopping into his F-150. We navigate along a steep fire road that twists and turns deeper and deeper into the forest. I roll down the window and take a deep breath. “Everyone keeps asking me, ‘aren’t you afraid of mountain lions?’” I say, turning to Cliff and adding, “Should I be?” “Like great white sharks, they are out there, but you are not really on their menu,” he says, not necessarily easing my concerns. Before I know it we are dropping down into a clearing and I sense that my impending send off is near. SANTA CRUZ WAVES | 8 1

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Santa Cruz Waves Aug/Sept 2015 Issue 2.2  
Santa Cruz Waves Aug/Sept 2015 Issue 2.2