The Will to Live
Two friends have been planning a hiking trip for several weeks.
On the day of the big hike, one friend calls the other and says she is sick. The other friend decides to go anyway. It’s a nice day and she decides to take a small survival kit in her pack before heading out. She arrives at the canyon the two wanted to hike across and gets started. Along the way she sees something that piques her interest and decides to go off the trail and investigate. She sees a beautiful formation of rocks up the canyon wall and as she is staring upward and considering how they formed, she takes a step forward and her leg slips into a narrow crevice getting stuck.
Discuss: What are some of the mistakes this hiker has made?
Answers may include:
- She went hiking alone – there is no one with her to go for help in an emergency
- She was careless – she was not paying attention to the terrain
- She may not have told anyone where she was going
- She went off the regular trail
Discuss: What is the ideal number of people to go on an outdoor adventure?
Although many people go hiking alone or with only one other person, it is often said that the ideal number for outdoor adventure activities is three. In this way, if one of the people gets hurt, the second person can stay with the injured person to look after them, and the third person can go get help.
Discuss: What should the hiker do at this point? Do you know what STOP stands for?
STOP stands for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan.
Discuss: What are the survival priorities?
A will to survive, shelter, warmth, rest/energy, signals, water, and food.
Warning: be careful sharing this at the dinner table as there is some disturbing content included
Assume the hiker was well prepared for this emergency but cannot get loose, and does not have a cell phone or radio reception in the area. In 2003, a very experienced mountain climber named Aron Ralston was hiking in a slot canyon in Utah. While squeezing through a narrow slot, a large rock shifted, pinning his arm under it. Aron was alone. He thought of his options and tried to implement them. Nothing worked. He had no way to get loose. After five days, Aron displayed an intense will to survive by self-amputating his arm and hiking out.
Having the will to survive means never quitting even under extreme circumstances. Giving up sends signals to the body to shut down. When you’re in an emergency, clear thinking and a will to survive are your most important tools.
About the Author
Father of 5 children, husband to 1 amazingly patient woman, entrepreneur, and education advocate.