Intro from PJ: This will be the first of many logs which will stretch into March and possibly April, and if this goes well this will be a truly unique collection of data which will undoubtedly be of great value to all of us. We preppers often discuss or write about bugging out and worst case scenarios, but how many of us have actually done it? Sure there are those of us who have humped through various terrain for days on end while serving in the military but we also had trained individuals by our side and resupply or medivac at the other end of a radio. Not so much in a bugout situation and especially with family members trailing along complaining about blisters or hunger.
One of our most popular contributors, The Maj, is planning to do what many of us only dream about doing: an actual 150 mile bugout on foot. For OPSEC reasons I’m not even aware (nor do I want to be) of the full details but I know that it will be 2 to 3 weeks of approximately 150 miles over land, on foot and in canoe…all alone. The Maj has graciously volunteered to keep an account of his journey (which will include pictures) along with a consolidated gear review. If there is coverage for his iPad he’ll hopefully be able to post real time updates while on the move. So all that in mind, this is the first of what will hopefully be many entries which will keep us on the edge of our seats.
You Are Going to Do WHAT?
Well, that pretty much sums up the reaction that I initially got from my wife when I mentioned my desire to exercise a variation of our Bugout plan. As usual, she thinks something has short-circuited and she knows that when I mention something there is normally a very short window between concept and execution. Needless to say, she was not thrilled with the idea of a 140 to 150 mile, solo trip along land and water, on foot and canoe, through areas with little (mostly no) cell phone coverage, over the course of two to three weeks. I did not mention the concept to her again for several days, giving her ample time to stew over it, while I continued to work out the details. Worst case scenario, I would plan and prepare only to exercise the plan later so time and effort would not be wasted but on the off chance she did come around, I knew there would be a lot of detailed explanation required before she would be comfortable with the execution phase. She knows the route, we have exercised a variation of the plan driving from our home to our bugout location numerous times, and her biggest concern is the time on the river.
Now, I know what many reading this are thinking right now. “How in the world does someone get to the point that they would feel the need to exercise a plan like this (or something along those lines)?” I readily admit, we have a pretty good bugout plan but as with any plan, it can always be better and I have the capability to pick most plans to pieces with plenty of “if this happens, then what” questions. So, while our bugout plan today involves driving to our bugout location (ideal situation) and in the event driving becomes problematic, going overland on foot in order to reach the location (less than ideal situation), I still have some serious concerns about dragging my family overland on foot. Abandoning the vehicles and living out of a pack may seem a romantic concept for some but it is no easy task for someone that has trained for it, much less kids. Also, when you consider the limitations of what you can carry on your back versus any vehicle you should come to the stark realization of how dire the situation would have to be before anyone would or should abandon a vehicle of any type.
The opportunity for possibly modifying our plan started when a lifelong friend (I will refer to him as “Steve”), who happens to be a prepper, purchased property on the river approximately 30 miles from my home. He currently resides about 100 miles north of me and his intention is to utilize that property for a fishing camp/bugout location for himself and his family. While fishing with this friend, we discussed the various aspects of bugging out, developing a bugout location, and several other “issues” with prepping in general. When he showed me his property to get my thoughts, the light went off in my head on how we had both literally lucked into the potential for a mutually beneficial situation. Since my home sits 30 miles north of his bugout location and the real potential exists that part of his journey could end up on foot, it makes an ideal location for a way-point/safe haven. Since the river on his property would get me within 30 miles of my bugout location (possibly closer) and is in the general direction of travel to my bugout location, it makes an ideal location for a way-point/safe haven. After discussing the situation some more, we both agreed that we would allow each other to place a storage building on each others’ property and rely on each other in case bugging out became a reality.
From that point I began seriously working out the details of a modified bugout plan for the family. In an absolute, worst case scenario, we would have to bugout on foot, go overland approximately 30 miles to Steve’s location, take a couple of days to refit/rest, proceed down river to our takeout location, then go overland 30 miles once again to our bugout location. Breaking it into legs I figured a basic timeline would come out to:
- Overland A – 3 to 4 days
- Refit/Rest – 2 to 3 days
- River – 5 to 7 days
- Overland B – 3 to 4 days
So, with family in tow, in a worst case scenario, we would be looking at 13 to 18 days travel time to our bugout location. Naturally, various factors could have a significant impact on travel time (traveling at night, injuries, fatigue, etc). Best case scenario is driving to the bugout location in 2 to 3 hours with all of our supplies in tow. Looking at the entire route on foot, 15 days would be very optimistic and 20+ days would probably be more realistic.
After studying the modified plan, I presented it to my wife again. By this point, I had potential camp sites selected on the map, approximate travel times between sites, and danger points (bridges, landings, road crossings, etc) marked for her to look at. The only thing that I could not tell her was absolutely what the river would be like as we traveled it and the only sure way to know it was to exercise the plan. Over the course of a week, we discussed all of the “what if’s” concerning my spending 13 to 18 days on a solo test run – communications/checking in, injury, exact timeline for each leg with +/- times, etc. Eventually, she agreed in principle to my hair-brained idea, provided that I develop a detailed description of my travels and worked out a solid communications plan.
I continued making plans, remaking plans, and putting everything into place necessary for making the solo run. Along the run, I plan to travel as if I have my family in tow (pace/rest), scout potential areas for cache locations (GPS/map), identify potential danger points/trouble spots (modify plan if necessary), and perform long term tests on equipment/supplies. When I discussed my plans with PJ, he asked if I would consider doing a series of articles surrounding my trip. I thought about it and my primary concern was OPSEC, which I discussed with him in detail and we came to an agreement concerning my desire to keep things generic for the sake of maintaining it. I figured the best way to start things out was to let everyone know how I got to this point. That said, I am doing all of this for the benefit of my family and my own personal planning and preparations. If someone can garner some benefit from my trip and the lessons I learn, it is just an added bonus.
The series will follow this basic outline:
- Planning & Preparations
- Raw Trip Log (submitted as often as possible during the trip)
- Gear Review
- Final Thoughts
Each section may be broken down into more detail or additional sub-articles as time allows and the subject requires. Right now, the plan is to step off the middle of March and be complete the first week of April.
Call me “crazy”, it will not be the first time or the last time.