Man Trap

Hi again everyone. Welcome back to Keep Alive – a blog by me, Andy Savage. We’ve been very busy over here at Savage Headquarters. I’ve got three books I’m working on, and I’ve been doing some work around the property. Today’s blog post is actually about something that happened while I was on my tractor.

Put your seat belt on, have I got a story for you.

Most of my stories are from events that have happened in past years. Well, here is one that JUST HAPPENED. I’m literally writing this as I’m about to hop in a shower and test out how tender an open cut on my leg is.

And as with all of my stories, I always like to call out a lesson or point, something I hope will be helpful to readers in the future.

So…what happened? In short, I almost broke both of my legs mowing my property.

Now, I’m sure most of you think mowing is not hazardous. But as many of you know, I live in quite the wild place, killing copperhead snakes as I drag them out of the bushes by their tail before I guillotine their head (see that blog here), helicoptering deep into the mountains during a harsh winter storm (here), and getting caught on a mountain in the middle of a lightning storm with water flowing like a river between my feet (here).

But of all my stories, this one takes the cake.  At least as far as the circumstances being so serious that I truly could have snapped both my legs. What happened is so fresh I am still reeling from it.

My “lawn” is actually a good portion of my property, and most of it is…..well, weeds, but they’re still green and it provides more foliage. To keep it from getting overgrown, I have to mow it about every three weeks with the bush hog (which is a small tractor). My trails on the mountain, however, aren’t very wide, so I only mow up there twice a year (to maintain access for firewood and to keep the hiking trails clear).

As I was heading down one path, I noticed a very skinny tree branch that had sprouted up from some foliage on the ground, grew up, and then fell across the trail in an arch. It only looked to be about a half-inch thick, so I thought, No problem. It will get pushed out of the way as I drive through it.

This branch was actually quite lengthy, looping over the top of my tractor with the tip tangled in some other foliage to the left. Why a healthy looking branch had grown up like that and then fell over in an arch – I just don’t know the answer to that, except to say that perhaps all the recent rain we’ve been getting could have weighed it down and caused it to droop over.

Here’s what I’m talking about:


Tree Across Pathway
Actual photo of the branch Andy is talking about


So I’m driving on my tractor, notice this branch, it’s in my path, and decide I’m just going to take the tractor right through it because – well, even though it’s not tall enough for me to make it all the way under (the arch was barely tall enough to scrape over the top of the tractor), the branch itself is only a half-inch thick and is just drooped over. It will move out of the way, I’m convinced, as soon as the tractor goes under/through it.

(That’s my rationale.)

But as I went through this arch, suddenly I noticed the tree wasn’t moving aside. Before I knew it, the branch was right at my chest. The tractor was still moving forward, and the branch began to lower and tighten across me like a seatbelt. Suddenly, my arms were trapped!

I yanked my arms free, but the branch was still tightening across my lap, right on my legs! I wondered, How can this be happening? But then I saw that the branch was caught under my left tire.

I was trapped between the branch and my tractor.

Cesar Anxious to go Bush Hogging, Waiting for Permission to Get on Tracktor
Cesar sitting beside the tractor

At this point, the tractor is still moving, and the pressure is really beginning to hurt my legs. It’s such a great force that it was actually forcing my foot down on the tractor’s gas pedal. I tried my very best, with all my might, to lift my foot up – I was even pulling and tugging with my hands – but to no avail. The branch kept tearing into my legs. I was totally trapped, with no way to stop the tractor, with no way to get free. And the branch – it was just not breaking!

Men and their Toys
Another pic of Andy’s tractor

This is it, I thought. Something REALLY BAD is about to happen. I know this is serious. Really serious. I have never been in such a predicament in my life.

Finally, just as I thought I couldn’t take it any longer, I managed to focus on my foot and slide my toes off to the side to release the gas. The tractor stopped, though the motor was still running. I was also still in great distress, and in a lot of pain. There was so much pressure on my legs I could not even move my heal off the floor toward the reverse peddle.

I managed to shift my foot two inches to the left, under the forward peddle, and lifted my heal a tiny bit (the tow / heal peddles are joined together and rock back and forth).  The tractor backed up, just a few inches really, but it was enough to release the pressure on my legs. That allowed me to relaxed my hands from trying to hold up the branch.

I was now able to (barely) move my foot a little more to activate the reverse pedal. After moving several more inches, the tree branch released from under the left tire. Both legs were hurting like the dickens. The pressure was easing off my legs, but as the branch was lifting off me, I noticed a hole in my left pant leg.

I tugged at the hole and peeked inside. I was taken back by what I saw.

Leg Wound from Tree
Andy’s injury on his left leg

I have been wounded a lot in past years, and I have always doctored myself. But this? this grossed me out, if I’m being perfectly honest. I know some people would have panicked, or rushed to the hospital, but I wasn’t bleeding a whole lot, so I went ahead and finished the job.

Yes, you heard me. My legs almost got snapped (I’ll tell you how I know that for sure in a moment), but we’ve been getting a lot of rain in this region lately, and I needed to finish before it started raining again.


Damage to Side Tree
A nearby tree was debarked from the incident

As I continued mowing I kept thinking, This is REEEALLY going to hurt when I get in the shower. Well, now I’m home and just about to get in the shower to test that theory. Be right back.

YEP! I’m back, and sure enough. This thing hurts like HELL under hot water. Ouch! Strangely, my right leg doesn’t have any marks. Not one, not even any redness. Nothing!

Doctoring my leg myself, as per usual, and I’m starting to wonder if the situation was as extreme as I was thinking. It sure felt extreme while it was happening. Doing some internet research – couldn’t find the tensile (tension) breaking strength of a tree branch that matches the description of the one I got tangled in (in other words, I want to know how much pressure it would have taken to actually snap or break that branch).

Amidst my internet searches, I’ve found where a half-inch cotton rope – the weakest of ropes – has an amazing breaking strength of 2,120 lbs. So…it’s likely a healthy tree branch would be more than 2,120 lbs, since we’re talking about solid wood rather than cotton fibers. And it was a “green” tree, mind you (meaning moist, flexible and full strength).

My guess? That branch probably wasn’t going to snap until somewhere around 2,500 – 3,000 lbs of tension. I’m finding different answers on the internet, but it looks like a ton of pressure (2,000 lbs) can be enough to break the human femur bone. If it’s the right angel, it’s much less.

It’s most certainly possible, had my tractor kept going, and had I continued to stay trapped like I did, that the branch could have actually fractured or broken both my femurs. And I suspect, if that tractor had continued on another 5 inches or so, I would be writing this from the hospital and not my home.

Bottom Line:

This is irrefutable proof that pants offer a lot of protection (not one mark on my other leg – the jeans were a lifesaver, as I’d have for sure injured both legs if I’d been wearing shorts). I will gladly endure feeling a bit warm wearing pants to gain the protection pants offers me when in the outdoors.

This is also why I have an extensive chapter on First-Aid and I tote a bigger than usual First-Aid Kit than most people (please see my chapter on First-Aid in my future book).  Accidents usually happen in a few seconds and results are not good.  Humans are very fragile.  You need to be prepared to take care of yourself and others whether you are in the mountains, in your home or in a car accident.  Be Prepared!  Have your kit in your pack and have your pack in your vehicle, always! I will have a blog on my portable kit in near future.

I also want to encourage you all to take martial arts of some kind. It was due to martial arts training that I was able to assess the situation quickly, keep from panicking, and have the motor control to force my foot (under great pressure) off to the side two inches within a split second.  Due to the pressure, I even had great difficulty lifting my toes a bit to get the tractor to back up – every once of strength was needed, and martial arts helped with that, I feel certain.

Several seconds passed between the time I felt pressure across my legs to when I stopped the tractor. We need to be ready for whatever is thrown in our path, and martial arts helps with that. Plus, it’s just a great way to keep in shape, keep reflexes topped, and develop a “take control” attitude when things go to pieces.

As always, I want to say, “Be Prepared.”


Your friend in self-sufficiency,


Andy Savage
“The Mountain Man”

Andy is an author, blogger, and self-sufficiency expert. He is the proud owner of a Belgian Malinois named Cesar, and the duo live together on 21 acres in the mountains of East Tennessee. When they’re not busy working on the property (Cesar does more playing), they enjoy hiking, fishing and camping in the great outdoors. Cesar enjoys chasing wild turkey, deer, squirrels, and rabbits.

This blog post is an account of the author. Situations differ and are contingent on the abilities of each individual person involved, as well as unforeseen circumstances.  The author and/or his associates are not liable for any injuries, loss, or damages incurred due to the use of such information. Such content is for general, informational and entertainment purposes only.

As they say, “Don’t try this at home.”  I say, “Don’t ever try this anywhere.”  Please be careful  …………. hazards ………………not good.


The Save My Life Run

Disclaimer: Always check with a medical professional before attempting any new workout or exercise routine. Everyone’s bodies are different. The exercises and examples mentioned in this blog work for Andy but may not be suitable for you. Your doctor is the best person to consult regarding your health, wellness, and fitness.

About ten years ago I was on a walk with my children, and my daughter’s boyfriend came along.  On our way back home we were laughing and cutting up when her boyfriend (playfully) started to chase me.  I took up the challenge and attempted to “take off” in a quick sprint.

I was in pretty good shape back then – I felt sure I could outrun him, at least for a short distance.

To my disappointment, I had a lag in acceleration, ran short on energy very fast, realized he was close behind me, then fell to the ground flat on my face.  I got up and was fuming – not due to being chased but due to my poor performance (and of course, falling on my face was embarrassing too, as were my bloody palms).

Granted, I did have a medium-size pack on which slowed me down a bit due to the extra weight; but still, all I needed to do was to move quickly for about 30 feet (he likely would have stopped after 20 feet or so). That’s not that far, yet I couldn’t do it.

The pack I had was about this size.

I never wanted that to happen again. Or rather, I never wanted it to happen again when it really counts. When I’m in a life or death situation.

With that story in mind, and with the revamping of my exercise program recently, I have decided to sprint once a week and I call it the “Save My Life Run.” The run consists of a quick start (as quick as I can make it), accelerating as fast I can, and then maintaining a sprint for 1/8th of a mile.


One-eighth of a mile is 660 feet. That’s just over two football fields in length.  Why did I pick that specific distance? I figure if a mugger or attacker is trying to get me, and let’s say he has a machete (plenty of incentive for anybody to run away), and for some reason I do not have any of my weapons with me, I am quite sure the average attacker could not run the length of two football fields without having to stop from exhaustion.

There are other scenarios where this exercise would prove helpful. Let’s say a terrorist is careening up a sidewalk at the mall, and you look up to find a huge truck coming at you (this is becoming more and more common).  If this were me, I would want to be able to take off in a sprint, right into the middle of a bunch of parked cars where he could not hit me.  This requires agility, speed, and a quick start. The Save My Life Run focuses on each of these areas, strengthening the fast-twitch muscles in my legs so I can cross short distances in less time.

A quick start out of the starting blocks is important for Olympic runners. It’s even more important when your life is on the line.

Or let’s say I’m hiking and suddenly realize I have trampled upon a yellow jacket nest. My normal procedure is to yell “Run! Bees!” to warn other. The next step is to jump off the trail and sprint through tree branches as fast as I can for at least 100 feet (after being stung once as a boy, I have used this method three times, and it works well). If I am conditioned for sprinting, this will allow me to run away much faster, and farther if necessary.

Even if you already have a cardio workout routine (jogging, martial arts, an elliptical machine, aerobics…whatever), sprinting is a great skill to implement into your regular routine.  I usually run one mile per week, just to help me maintain stamina.  I used to run 10 miles per week (that’s significantly more), but I just don’t have the time to do that anymore, as I am putting in the max amount of time I can spare: about 16 hours per week total (that’s 7 for hiking with Cesar, 6 for martial arts classes, 3 for other skills I practice—martial arts katas, sprinting, running, bag work, Bo practice, power exercises, etc.).

I guess as time has progressed, I have moved toward practicing a wider variety of activities to keep me in shape and ready for anything that comes my way.

Now, I know not everyone can sprint 1/8th of a mile. Many may not even be able to jog it without stopping.  We all have to build up to our goals, and that takes time.  One thing you can do is a walk-run: run for as long as I can, then just do a fast-walk until you recover; repeat for the entire duration of your workout. If your goal is to run 1/8th of a mile without stopping, then walk-run that distance at least 3 days per week until you are walking less and running more. Set short goals during the walk-run—say to yourself, “I am going to run to that tree right there before I stop to walk.” Then the next week you might say, “I am going to run past that tree now, all the way to the Bob’s mailbox, before I stop to walk.” And the following week, you might say, “I’m running to the very end of the street before I stop to walk.”

Not everyone is ready to sprint great distances right now.
Some people may need to start off at a slow jog or even at a walk.

NOTE: Adjust this as needed for your fitness level and physical abilities. If you can’t do a run-walk yet, you can always alternate fast walking with slow walking. Or, alternately, if you are already jogging a couple of miles at a time, you can add more and more distance to your runs each week.

Remember, some weeks will be better than others. Just don’t be discouraged. And once you work up to 1/8th of a mile, then you can slowly progress until you’re at a half-mile, and eventually a full mile (jogging or running, rather than all-out sprinting). You can do it. Just believe in yourself and be consistent. And no matter your fitness level, try to push yourself a little further each week until you finally reach a goal.

If you can only walk, if that’s the most your body can do, then just do that, and give it your all.

Honestly, some people may never be able to do a full-out sprint for 1/8th of a mile (this could be due to age or some disability), and that’s okay. We should all just try our best, doing what we are able to do, and that’s all we can do. Getting fit is a long-term process; it does not happen in a few weeks or even a few months.  We are not Superman, just humans. So get with your doctor, set some realistic goals, and try your darndest to stick to them while slowly and steadily progressing each week or every couple of weeks.

Some other tips:

Decide on what you want to do to improve your physical fitness and exactly what days and times you can do it.  Try to enlist a workout partner—being accountable will provide a higher rate of success to continue week after week.  And when you go on vacation, take a vacation from working out. Your body needs a break from time to time too.

This blog post is an account of the author. Situations differ and are contingent on the abilities of each individual person involved, as well as unforeseen circumstances.  The author and/or his associates are not liable for any injuries, loss, or damages incurred due to the use of such information. Such content is for general, informational and entertainment purposes only.


Nature Is So Organized

Since I hike twice a day with Cesar, I have a lot of time to observe nature. I have noticed for years that vines grow in a clockwise direction in Tennessee (when viewed from the top).  I have heard that vines in the northern hemisphere grow clockwise and counterclockwise as they grow in the southern hemisphere of our world.

How does a plant know which hemisphere it lives in? This is amazing to me. And the simple fact that it grows in the first place from a seed or sprout is another miracle.

And if that was not enough, water as it goes down a drain, sink, or toilet spins counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern.

And what about the effect the moon has on humans, animals and our planet? There is a lot of evidence that we are greatly affected by the moon, and I have personally seen various effects.  This is a huge  subject in and of itself!


 So why does this happen?  Vines growing in a certain direction and water flowing in a certain direction?  My research has led me to believe…well, that it really just depends on the type of vine and perhaps even just the types that grow in certain places. As far as the water spinning a certain way down the drain – well, some people dispute the Corialas Effect, saying that it’s actually things like sink or toilet design that determines the direction water spins. Who knew! Maybe the Aussies build their toilets a little differently Down Under.

Bottom Line:

So, if you are ever kidnapped and wake up wondering which continent you have been whisked off to, look no further than vine-growth or water-spinning direction. Maybe. Those things might possibly help you, or they might not. And good luck hiking home.  🙂 Seriously, though, the point of this blog is just to say how much I appreciate the complexity and order of nature in our world.  All of us living on planet earth (humans, wild animals and foliage, microscopic organisms, etc.) are all tied together, and we interact more than you think. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we don’t realize. It is truly amazing. 


Your friend in self-sufficiency,



Andy Savage
“The Mountain Man”

Andy is a woodsman and grew up in the Great Outdoors. He’s an expert at self-sufficiency topics, survivalism, self-defense and mechanics. He and his dog Cesar live on 21 acres in the mountains of East Tennessee.

This blog post is an account of the author. Situations differ and are contingent on the abilities of each individual person involved, as well as unforeseen circumstances.  The author and/or his associates are not liable for any injuries, loss, or damages incurred due to the use of such information. Such content is for general, informational and entertainment purposes only.

Some Random Thoughts on Self-Defense

I have spent a great deal of time talking in depth about the need for self-defense and protecting yourself. Here are just a few random thoughts I’ve had, which I wanted to share today:


  1. A lot of people are hesitant to take an actual martial arts class. If you elect not to do weekly lesson such as these, then at least take a self-defense course with several sessions. This type of course will at least teach you how to punch and kick, as well as the best places to strike for the best results. If you take notes and practice these moves periodically…well, that’s definitely better than nothing.


  1. I know you might be shy or squeamish to try a martial arts class, but what better place to work through reservations than in a controlled environment. And I will tell you, everybody starts the same way: at the bottom.I will never forget when I started in Karate 33 years ago. I was at the back of the class, flailing and fumbling around. Boy, was I glad no one turned around to see my clumsiness! But everyone starts that way. Despite having developed some skills since then, I still experienced the same thing when I started Wing Tsung Kung Fu. I felt like an idiot. My body was not used to doing those unique moves – it was like learning to walk all over again. But after a while it became a part of me.


    It will happen for you too. Stick with it.


  1. I feel I need to mention a principal, which helps keep people out of trouble. When taking a firearms carry permit course, they teach about the legalities of using a weapon – they say a person should only ever do so if an attacker is about to seriously hurt or kill them AND if the perp actually has the ability to do so (whether with brute force, i.e. by a very large, strong man or by means of a weapon).If at any time this person stops the attack or retreats (turns away to leave, etc.), the rule is: DO NOT FIRE. If you do so, that could land you in jail for murder.


    It is important to realize that when you learn martial arts – a skill that provides you with great knowledge and power – you must be just as responsible, using the skill properly and under the boundaries of the law.  This should never be taken lightly.  Power and skill should always be exercised with great caution. Always.

    One way to do this with a firearm is to fire a warning shot first. If you don’t have a firearm – if your martial art skills ARE your weapon – a warning “punch” could be a possibility so long as it doesn’t put you in great danger. For instance: a sharp jab to the gut to knock the wind out of them, or hitting the person with the blunt end of a Bo – both of these can be used to (hopefully) ward off the attack without unleashing deadly moves.


  1. Be careful to not get sucked into someone else’s confrontation. I have noticed in the news lately, with a larger number of people carrying concealed firearm, it is very enticing to jump up and shoot an attacker instantly. I know a sticky situation can get the adrenalin pumping, but before you ever exercise any sort of force that there is simply no other option. Using a firearm OR martial arts moves should be a last resort.pexels-photo-94303

    Try diffusing the situation first by speaking calmly and logically to the person. Tell them your name, ask for theirs, and share some limited/safe information about yourself (“My name is Andy. I have a dog named Cesar, and it’s always been my dream to write books and live in the country on 21 acres. I have three children, their first names are….”). I know this may seem a little extreme, but often perps have objectified the person they are trying to attack. If what they are seeing is no longer an object, though, and is instead a real live human being with a name, family, etc, then it becomes more difficult (mentally speaking) for them to follow through.

    Or if in another situation you see a guy slapping around a women, you should call management, the authorities…but this is not the time to take things into your own hands, no matter how noble the cause. Only draw your weapon if it is absolutely essential to saving your life (e.g. if he draws one and comes after you).


  1. Practice weekly. Not only does our body need to be challenged with weekly exercise, but we need to practice our martial skills weekly too. A saying I have is “IMF”, Immediate and Maximum Force.  As I have said in the past, most situations will be over within 30 seconds, so give it all you’ve got in those 30 seconds. You do not have time for a tea party to get to know this guy. You need to bring the hammer NOW.pexels-photo-169605

    You will only have this sort of keen agility, reflex, and strength if you practice weekly, at least twice a week minimum. My recommendation is three or more times a week.  I personally work out 7 days per week. I walk three miles every day with a 23lb pack. I work out 1 night a week in Issynryu Karat, 2 nights a week in Wing Tsung Kung Fu, and 1 time during the weekend. If I can do it, as busy as I am, I know you can do it.


  1. I like to study human nature. It can teach us many lessons. I have observed others and personally experienced that when a bad situation occurs, we as humans tend to question ourselves regarding what is happening. For example, if someone hits you and is trying to hurt you, most people will be paralyzed and will just stand there. Really. Their minds literally cannot process what’s going on, and they may find themselves wondering, “Why is this person trying to hurt me? Who is he? Do I know him from somewhere?” and so on.road-man-lights-legs

    We often try too hard to figure out what exactly is going on rather than dealing with the horrible situation happening right in front of us (and to us!). For your own safety, you have got to decide NOW that if something unexpected happens, that you will not waste time playing 20 Questions with yourself. React by protecting yourself first, taking protective measures through self-defense. The element of surprise will defeat you unless you catch up quickly (meaning you better get up to speed ASAP with the fact that, 1. someone is purposefully trying to hurt you, and 2. that you need to take action to save your life).


Just some random thought I had about self-defense and protecting yourself. Stay safe out there.


Your friend in self-sufficiency (and self-defense),


Andy Savage
“The Mountain Man”

Andy is an expert in martial arts and self-defense. A 4th degree black belt, he was once an instructor and over the past few years has been expanding his repertoire to include KungFu and the Bo (long staff).








Cold Weather Sleeping

This has been one of the craziest winters here in East Tennessee, usually February and March being the coldest with the worst weather.

Instead it has been hot and then cold, hot and then cold…over and over again. We even had a few days that hit the 70’s then back in February before getting a decent snow!

Just the other day, I woke up earlier than normal because I was freezing. That’s when I noticed the indoor thermometer read 45 degrees – but it’s been in the 50s and 60s! I did not expect it to get so cold overnight, so I had turned the heat off.  By the time I figured out I made a mistake, I was shivering uncontrollably in my bed and had to jump up and crank the heat up.

As I lay there, trying to get back to sleep, my mind wandered to all of the techniques I have used when sleeping outdoors in cold weather.


I have learned a lot over the years sleeping in the mountains, probably during times of the year and in places no one else would ever dream of. I even used to wonder to myself, “What in the world am I doing here?”

If you are too cold and don’t know how to deal with it, it can be a VERY LONG night.  And remember, nights are much longer in the winter and can seem like FOREVER when you are shivering the entire time.

I usually camp year-round in the mountains, and the weather can be very challenging in the winter. I will go so far as to say, if someone doesn’t know what they are doing during a snow storm, they could potentially freeze to death. No joke.


Let me go over some techniques of keeping warm that I have developed out of pure necessity at various times I was freezing during past winter trips.

Cold Body

– I cover my upper body with my arms. One forearm covers my chest area and the other forearm covers my abdomen area. Keep your upper arms close to the sides of your body.  You can even form an “X” across your body with your arms and tuck your fingers in your armpits if your fingers are cold. You are forming and extra blanket with your arms to keep your upper body core warm.  It makes a difference.

– Another cold weather practice is to always have an extra blanket or my jacket beside me.  It is very common to wake up in the middle of the night after your body cools due to inactivity.  Also your home keeps a constant temperature but when sleeping outdoors, the temperature usually continues to drop throughout the night. It is very handy if you can pull a blanket / jacket over you, and better yet to pull it into your sleeping bag to cover your upper body.

Put on any extra clothing you may have.  A hat is VERY important, so important that I will bring two hats (in case I lose one, and at times I’ve needed to wear both while sleeping).  I have put my hands in my pockets or even worn gloves many times when camping in cold weather.


– Try Isometrics.  Basically tensing the muscles against each other in different parts of your body.  If you’re not sure how to do this, just try pushing both your palms together very hard and hold for 30 seconds. Then hook your fingers and pull apart for 30 seconds. This affects the arms and the upper body. Sit up partially like doing a crunch to activate the abdomen muscles.  Push one foot down using your leg muscles on top of the other foot and hold for 30 seconds, then swap your foot positions and repeat (to exercise the leg muscles).

I now have it perfected so I can just lay there and tense all of my muscles against each other, including my feet and hands (without doing the positions as mentioned above).  Tense for 30 seconds, take a break, then tense for another 30 seconds.  Repeat this process several times till you are warm.  It is like playing a game of basketball, who needs a blanket after that?  Well, it is not quite that active but it works.

Don’t be lazy, work it hard! After several minutes of this activity, I am usually warm again and can fall asleep for a while.  Yes, I may have to do this in another hour, but it’s better than shivering all night long.

– I will also at times lie on my side in the “fetal” position. This pulls most of your body parts in closer and the heat in the sleeping bag can be shared by more of your body parts, not to mention that the center core area is more protected against heat loss.  You can change sides periodically.

– Always carry a space blanket (see my Helo Trip blog to appreciate these blankets).

Cold Feet

– Always carry an extra pair of socks on camping trips.  When you retire for the night your feet will be damp which will make your feet cold due to evaporation of the moisture (basically the principal of refrigeration).   Changing to dry heavy socks will warm your feet.


– Add an extra pair of socks over the top of the original pair.

Stack your toes on top of each other to help warm each other.  Swap the positioning occasionally.

Wrap your feet with an extra piece of clothing to warm them.

– If flexible enough, pull one foot up at a time and massage the foot with both hands and cover the toes for a while with your fingers, then swap feet.


Bottom Line:

Some may say, why didn’t you wear more clothing? Sometimes you get caught by adverse weather, or you get stranded, or you left the heat off in your house. Things happen. Just be ready to deal with it when they do.

Remember, go prepared if winter camping or traveling (as people have spent the night in their cars due to snow storms many times). Bring enough blankets, etc. for all of your family members.   Give you family independence by training them the above warming drills so they know how to use them in the middle of the night when needed.


Your friend in self-sufficiency,



Andy Savage

“The Mountain Man”

Andy is an avid “summer guy.” He loves the warm weather, though he also loves the challenge cold weather presents. Check out his other cold weather blogs under the category WINTER. 

This blog post is an account of the author. Situations differ and are contingent on the abilities of each individual person involved, as well as unforeseen circumstances.  The author and/or his associates are not liable for any injuries, loss, or damages incurred due to the use of such information. Such content is for general, informational and entertainment purposes only.


1,000 Likes – Achieved

Thank you so much to everyone who shared and liked the Andy Savage Facebook page. I am pleased to announce that we have surpassed 1,000 likes.

This is incredible. Never would I have dreamed that this endeavor would get this kind of following. I’m grateful for each of you. Thank you for all the support.

We will be completing the drawings soon, so stay tuned. -Andy Savage09_andy-thumbs-up

Winter Helo Trip

I can’t believe it is February already. Boy, the wind has been a-blowin’. It reminds me of an adventure some friends and I went on years ago.

In an effort to challenge ourselves during our regular monthly backpacking trips up in the mountains, I came up with the idea to fly deep into the mountains by helicopter and be dropped off, then hike out.

Fun, right? I thought so, except that it turned out to be FREEZING and extraordinarily windy when the trip happened. There was also a ton of snow way up in the mountains, which we had to contend with.



Since it took some effort to arrange this “helo” ride, we decided to go no matter what the weather. I guess that went along with our usual policy of backpacking each month “rain or shine.”


We were picked up by a Bell Jet Ranger, a jet engine powered helicopter I used to work on as a helicopter mechanic. We departed and headed up into the mountains. The terrain was covered in snow, and I can’t even express how hard the wind was blowing as we buffeted back and forth in the aircraft. Made me wonder if we should’ve been in the air.

We headed toward a mountain top that had we selected from a topo (topographic map) and found a low cloud ceiling covering the mountain top. We then flew around that mountain and started following the mountain chain toward another state (when you are flying at 120 mph, mountains go by in a few minutes). The mountain chain had a dip and seemed to be clear of the clouds. The pilot and I determined that it might be a good alternative site to land.


So we started a decent toward that area. As we came in closer and closer, I noticed that the strong winds were coming right over that saddle at a fierce rate. Fortunately it was a head wind which is best for control, but it was rough as a cob.


The pilot set the skids down on the snow, and slowly he let the weight of the helicopter lower through the snow. It seemed like we were descending in the snow, lower, then lower, and then I became concerned, popped my seat belt and leaned over a friend to see the skid depth and ground angle. You see, there are limitations as to the angle a helicopter can set down on the ground, as we don’t want the rotor stop to hit the mast and do very expensive damage.


I then said to the pilot through my headset, “Tom, why don’t you hold it steady and we will get out slowly.” (Seven-hundred pounds of weight – all of us guys – jumping out at the same time could cause the helo to pop up in the air suddenly).

I knew this suggestion would be challenging for the pilot, as it would require him to hover the whole time with the skids partially in the snow as well as keeping the helicopter under control in what seemed to be 60 mph wind gusts. And in the mountains, to boot.

Instead of a struggle, though, he executed the move with ease, keeping his vision locked onto a tree just in front of us. The helo remained hovering in that same spot the entire time, as if tied to the mountain with a rope.

It was amazing, and keep in mind: when you fly a helicopter you have to keep every aspect of the thing from going fore or aft, side to side, up or down and yaw (rotating left or right); not to mention the oh-so-extreme wind gusts, people climbing out of the aircraft…that’s a lot going on!


The four of us guys were out in a jiffy (well there goes the “slow and controlled” exit plan). To tell you the truth, it all felt like a “mission”-mission impossible at one point. We met by the baggage compartment, threw our packs on our back, and then assembled out in front of the helicopter. I gave the pilot a thumbs up signaling him it was OK to depart.

In a most impressive and coordinated way, he lifted up, flew backward; the ship then turned away and suddenly dove into the great expanse beyond us…then he was gone.


It went absolutely still around us as the helo disappeared, and it was eerily quiet. Well, aside from the wind. We were left standing there, looking around, no civilization for miles, snow 12 to 18 inches deep, wind so powerful it felt like we were going to be blown off the mountain any moment.


We finally looked at each other and burst out laughing as I think we all realized what we had just done: stranded ourselves (by our choice!) in the middle of nowhere in some of the most extreme conditions you can imagine, and the only way outta there was to walk out!  




We used bandanas to make a face cover due to the extreme wind chill factor. Once we had them on, we started hiking in what was some of the harshest hiking conditions I can remember. Not only was the wind brutal, but the snow had a hard crust on it. Each step we took, our weight would be supported to a certain point, then the crust would suddenly collapse, causing us to sink down.

This made for difficult travel as each and every step was awkward and a huge challenge. We did this for twelve hour, mind you, with only a lunch break in between so that we could get below the snow line (a point in which the snow was considerably less or not present in places) by nightfall.

To top it off, we had decided previously that we would keep our pack weight low since five us were flying up there: our group plus the pilot. The four packs would add to that weight, so we all agreed it was best (“best”) to leave our sleeping bags at home.

That was a really good reason to keep hiking till we got below the snow line. That way, when it was type to sleep, we’d at least be sleeping on the ground rather than snow and ice.


Even with that precaution we took—hiking twelve hours to get below the snow-line—the ground was VERY HARD and VERY COLD. Freezing cold, in fact. That night, I ended up sleeping in my poncho (folded in half). I soon discovered, though, that even with the poncho, it was impossible to sleep on my back. The little bit of heat my body produced was just sucked out too quickly.

I then tried sleeping on my side. This was between, but I still had to shift to switch sides about every 10 minutes. We had a fire going, too, but it didn’t seem to help much. After going through this process of flipping side to side for most of the night, I finally remembered that I had an emergency space blanket in my pack. I opened it up, doubled it, and laid it inside my poncho. To top it off I added my mylar blanket.

To my surprise, I was still cold, but I was at least able to lay on my back comfortably enough (as comfortable as you can get up on a mountain, in sub-freezing temperatures, with a fierce wind, and no sleeping bag) and fall asleep.

Bottom Line:

I have shared this adventure with you for fun, but I always feel there are many things that can be learned from every experience (you are probably saying, “Yeah, don’t follow Andy’s travel suggestions, he’s crazy”).  

There are several things someone could take away from this story, but at one that comes to mind is: keep an emergency blanket in your pack at all times. It’s a little thing, but it was my saving grace in a moment when I desperately needed it.

It’s so important, in fact, I’ve decided to give one away with the Grand Prize for a giveaway we’re doing here on the blog. Just go to the post below this one for more details.

I hope you enjoyed the ride of the story as much as I did once upon a time.  I have fond memories to this day of that trip as one of the highlights of my life.


Your friend in self-sufficiency,


Andy Savage
“The Mountain Man”

Andy Working on Helicopters
Andy is a licensed pilot and aircraft mechanic, has owned his own airplane and helicopter, and took his very first solo flight when he was a mere 17 years old. On the mechanical side, he has worked on a wide array of small aircraft, even Learjets and jet-powered helicopters.

This blog post is an account of the author. Situations differ and are contingent on the abilities of each individual person involved, as well as unforeseen circumstances.  The author and/or his associates are not liable for any injuries, loss, or damages incurred due to the use of such information. Such content is for general, informational and entertainment purposes only.

Nearing 1,000 Likes

We have nearly 1,000 of the blog now, we are almost to 1,000 likes on Facebook!

Have you shared a blog post or commented on the blog itself? If you haven’t, then you’re missing out on some great survivalist stuff! Each share counts as a raffle entry. If you comment anywhere on the blog (, that’s TEN RAFFLE TICKETS.

We’ll be doing three drawings as soon as we reach 1,000 likes – so like and share! And thank you to all of Andy’s fans for supporting and following the Keep Alive blog! -Kay

Some More Winter Driving Tips

I’m not sure about you all, but around here winter doesn’t seem like it’s going to last much longer. With that said, there’s almost always that laaaast winter storm that takes everyone by surprise.

So before that storm comes, here are some more winter driving tips for you:

  • If it starts to snow when you are away from home, keep tabs on the progress of accumulation. Sometimes it can snow and snow and hardly any accumulation, no problem, keep on schedule with what you are doing. But sometimes it can almost paralyze a city in just one hour. If it looks like one of those situations, it would be best to head home immediately as it will take a while to drive in traffic and it will only get worse every minute.


  • If you do get caught in a bad snow, plan to take a route that has the least hills.


This would be a dangerous path to take – through the mountains going out to my property


  • Buy “All Weather” tires as the more aggressive tread can help a lot with traction in slippery conditions.


  • If you are driving along and the road appears to be glossy wet, and you know the temperature is below freezing, be aware that it could be ice (also called “black ice”). Extremely slippery, in fact sometimes you can hardly stand up on it. Very dangerous when you drive on it, all that I have mentioned in this blog applies but use even more caution. Where I used to live, a neighbor called me once to ask me if I was aware that my vehicle was out in the middle of the road? It apparently slipped down the whole driveway by itself.


  • If people are tailing you (because you are driving slow) and making you feel uncomfortable, pull off in an appropriate spot and let them go by. Traveling in a snow storm is stressful enough without some jerk on your tail that may pressure you to drive more aggressively and then have an accident.


  • When snow season comes, I throw my snow chains in my vehicle. They are amazing. If you need to get somewhere, you can.  If you hit some dry pavement, reduce your speed way down so you don’t break a crossover chain from beating on dry pavement, or remove the chains. Have some strong wire handy with your chain kit in case you break a chain.


4-Runner buried in a few inches of snow


  • 4 Wheel drives are fantastic. I still carry my chains but so far have not had to use them with my Toyota 4 Runner. In fact I had tires down to the wear marker once when hit by a surprise snow storm and still had no trouble getting around, even days later on 1” thick solid ice. When I bought new tires, it was like nothing could stop me. Remember, a 4 wheel drive can accelerate faster and better, but slowing down on snow and ice is still of concern as with any 2 wheel drive vehicle.  And for all you guys who love the details, I can activate my rear differential lock with the push of a button (locks both rear tires so neither will spin providing extra traction, used only to get unstuck). Love it.


  • If possible during a storm, stay home. Stock up on some canned foods and bottled water to last a week in case you get snowed in.


I’m working on some great projects right now. One of them is something of an introduction to my self-sufficiency books, a “prologue” of sorts, that will explore some of my craziest exploits, adventures, and travel stories. I’m also working on some technical projects involving solar power and an outdoors series. More on those as they develop.


Your friend in self-sufficiency (and adventure!),


Andy Savage
“The Mountain Man”

Andy is a self-sufficiency expert with a lifetime of experience in all things related to the Great Outdoors. He’s also a 5th Degree Black Belt, a former martial arts instructor, self-defense pro, world traveler, dog lover, and now a blogger and writer. His first book is set to release late winter/early spring.

This blog post is an account of the author. Situations differ and are contingent on the abilities of each individual person involved, as well as unforeseen circumstances.  The author and/or his associates are not liable for any injuries, loss, or damages incurred due to the use of such information. Such content is for general, informational and entertainment purposes only.


Big Announcement: 1000 Likes

Some big news here at Andy Savage: we are almost to 1,000 likes on FACEBOOK! Yeah!

To celebrate, we have put together some survivalist gifts for Andy’s awesome fans. There’ll be drawing to see who wins these gifts. Here’s how you enter (it’s reeeaallly simple):

All you have to do is SHARE one of Andy’s latest blog posts on your Facebook, starting with the one from this week. We’ll keep going till we get to 1,000 likes. Anyone who shares one of his newest blog posts before then will be automatically entered for the drawing. Share more than one blog, get more than one entry. IT’S REALLY THAT SIMPLE.

Oh, and by the way – if you go to the KEEP ALIVE blog and comment on ANY of his blog posts, you’ll get 10 raffle tickets per comment. Yep! You heard me right. TEN RAFFLE TICKETS PER COMMENT. Be sure to include your Facebook handle and/or email address so we have a way to contact you. (Ex. Andy’s Facebook handle is @andysavageauthor)

Here are the prizes up for grabs:

Mountaintop Waterproof Dry Bag



Good luck to everyone who enters! And thank you so much to all of Andy’s fans! -Kay from the Andy Savage Team