Winter Rewilding 2017-2018

I have decided to continue with my uncivilization project for a while longer. The goal is to see how much independence from civilization I can achieve and be happy with. The hope is that by documenting the process, I will help others with similar goals.

Winter Set-Up

My new rat! He sleeps about on my shoulders in his favorite blanket when I walk around town.

I’m spending the 2017-2018 winter in the city, Chapel Hill, NC. I chose Chapel Hill because there weren’t too many other options after leaving Wild Roots. Winter is harsh, and I need to be around people and places I know.

I’m currently living out of a tent in the woody area of Jonah’s backyard. (Those who have followed the blog since its earlier years know Jonah as one of the editors of The Wildernist and Hunter/Gatherer.) I am equipped with a tent, sleeping pad, 3-season sleeping bag, and a bunch of blankets made of wool and alpaca. I have 20 or so jars of bear meat and bear fat, a huge jar of acorns, and a food stamp card (see “Challenges,” below).

I also have a rat companion now, to mitigate the loneliness problem. He has no name. I plan on keeping him until he dies in what will probably be about a year to two years from now. (He is one, and rats live to about maximum three years.) He’s got a beautiful white coat that will make for a nice piece of leather one day.


Learn a significant amount of Spanish. Winter is the best time and a university time the best place. So far it is going excellently. I’ve achieved lower-intermediate proficiency. This will help me communicate with many more eco-radicals (a surprising amount speak Spanish!), translate Spanish-language eco-radical writings, and it will make getting some kinds of seasonal jobs, especially when I’m in the South or Southwest.

Practice the Wim Hof Method to get better used to the cold. Hof practices a simple breathing technique that, among other things, allowed him to climb Everest and Kilimanjaro in his shorts and sandals. He is also able to control aspects of his immune system:

Perhaps his most incredible feat was in 2011 when scientists injected him with a bacterial endotoxin which, in normal humans, would result in a strong immune response causing fever, headaches and chills. Not with Wim Hof though.

He was able to suppress his immune response by making his body secrete adrenalin. Scientists and sceptics had suggested the man may simply be a freak of nature but the same experiment conducted with 12 subjects Hof trained in Poland yielded the same results and he says anyone can do this.

Gain greater control of my mind through meditation. I realized how important this is after Wild Roots. When I first arrived I had little interaction with the other people there, so I went quite a while in the forest in silence. The calm was often beautiful, but just as often it called attention to a raging storm of deeply-seated anxieties, memories, and mental habits.

Do lots of body-workcalisthenics and pressure point therapy, mainly. For obvious reasons. Winter is definitely the time to intensify your body work, set yourself up for another physically strenuous year.

Learn basic conservation law, with a focus on The Wildlands Network‘s conservation model.


The main challenges are social. Spending time outside is difficult when there is so much easily-accessible warmth around you, and that’s where all the people are. And following my body’s natural sleep cycle is pretty incompatible with city life in general. I will need to learn how to self-motivate in a sustainable way, then, so I’ve decided to try out a regimented schedule. I’ll let you know how that works on my Facebook.

Also, food is a difficult thing in the city. When I started this project I was not at all aware of how important food is, so I was more content with finding scraps, like through dumpster-diving. Not so anymore, so I’ve had to get food stamps, which I’m not at all happy about. I’ve learned that I will need to spend most of next year traveling around for food harvests, then traveling back to a home-base to store a portion of the food for the winter.

Future Plans

I will stay in Chapel Hill pursuing my winter goals until February. Around March I will hike the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail with my friend Linnea Van Manen. Then, hopefully, I will learn to hunt deer and small game with a bow and/or gun. Let me know if you can hook me up with any opportunities!


  • Lloyd says:

    Good post after not being on your site awhile. A list of things to keep the mind occupied is good. I deal with anxieties as well. It sucks sometimes. I’ll follow again on here.

  • Hoot says:

    Winter is great, but can be harsh in Maine. Lofty bag and covers to sleep well in a tent below 20 degrees. Gets cold even in the cabin with a wood stove by 5am when it’s 26 below zero and windy outside. Piss in a mason jar until the stove is stoked and you’re dressed. Tell your wife it’s not apple juice in the jar !

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