Normally, about here I’d let you know what new show is on tonight, but “Misty Mountain Drop” was the final episode of this season (Season 3). There are some reruns tonight (at 6, 7, & 8, EDT).
As far as the executive producer of the series is concerned, Season 3 did very, very well in the ratings. I’d guess that that means we’ll see a Season 4 next year.
So now, here are my thoughts on last weeks show, “Misty Mountain Drop”.
This time Joe and Cody are in the Klamath Mountains in northern California. The scenario they portray is a mountain biker trashing his bike and having to find his way out. While they cannibalize the bike a bit, the main stuff they use from it are a bike tool and the tires.
I must say that northern California look gorgeous and quite barefoot friendly.
I know those (mostly) aren’t hemlocks but the conifers there give it a look and feel similar to the Hocking Hills region around here. And by “feel” I do include a sole-to-ground feel.
When they did the filming, it looks like there was a bit of snow still on the ground in places.
This is really not a problem for a barefooter. A patch of snow is actually a bit fun to walk through, as long as it doesn’t go on for more than about 15 minutes. It’s ice cream for the feet.
One of the things I really liked about this show was the map-reading. As part of the scenario, the bicyclist had a topo map quad with him, so Joe (with the military experience) had to try to use it to figure out where they were, and where they wanted to go. And of course he used the military term: Land Nav (“Land Navigation”).
If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a bit of a map nut, and provide topo maps for a lot of southeastern Ohio. In this area, give me a map (not even a compass, because I’ll just read the terrain), and I can probably figure my way around.
These days so many folks use GPS that in some ways land navigation is dying out, or at least isn’t getting practiced as much. But it is still used in the military. And I don’t use it myself. It is just more fun to use a map, and I think doing immerses me more into the terrain and nature.
It turns out that my Marine son is kind of the land nav person for their reserve squad. When he was a Boy Scout we’d navigate our way around, with me showing him how to do it, and he picked it up quite readily.
So, back to Joe and Cody, Joe used topographic features to estimate where they were (I’ve done this, too), and then produced a proposed route that they could use to verify their location. All excellent advice.
Later in the show, they’re not quite where Joe thinks they ought to be. He’s been using “ranger beads” to count steps, and they have come to a stream too early. He blames it on the fact that one tends to take shorter steps when traversing mountainous region and so a standard pace can mess you up. (However, I think they portrayed this backwards. If they are taking shorter steps, they’d get to the stream later, not earlier, than they expected.)
I’ll sometimes do something similar when I am hiking and want to measure a distance (for my maps page). But I’ll just count on my fingers, using base 6. One hand does the 1s column and the other does the 6s column. With that I can get up to 36 (or 3600 paces, as I verbally count the hundreds). No, I don’t add my toes—they’re busy with other things . . . Theoretically, I could instead use my fingers to count in base 2 and get up to 1024, but that requires too much mental effort to keep straight.
Anyways, when Joe is correcting for the ranger beads, we get a good look at the map.
That let me know right where they are (that and a shot at the very end as they cross over a bridge for Irving Creek). They’re above the Klamath River up Rogers Creek. This is on the Somes Bar topo quad (rotated about 110°). Here’s the same part of the official quad.
You can compare the two and see that they are the same. (See, I told you I was a map nut.)
I think it is pretty clear that they manufacture some of their situations. (Excuse me, “demonstrate”.) They want to show some aspect of survival, so they set that up, and then have to work their story line around it. I’m guessing they did that with their stream-crossing.
They hit a smaller stream running into a larger stream and say that they just have to get to the other side, so we get to see them carefully crossing a log. The thing is, here are those two streams.
The stream they are about to cross runs from lower right to upper left, where it joins the larger stream that is running from upper middle to left middle. The thing is, if you are heading downhill (and they were), you are already on the correct side of the smaller stream. Or, if you want to cross the larger stream, just head right to it and do so.
So, it’s a set-up for how to do a stream crossing on a log (something that is always good to know).
I thought it was interesting to see the different techniques used by Joe and Cody. Here’s Joe:
Note how his knees straddle and are below the top of the log. This is classic military because usually they have a heavy pack on. In that situation, you want to lower your center of mass as much as possible, and increase your gripping power.
Cody, on the other hand, just crawls across the top, with a fairly high center of mass. He would have been safer with a lower stance.
There is one point here, though, where Cody’s bare feet are an unacknowledged advantage, and we see that when he has to stand up to cross a snag.
If you look at his feet, that’s a much better grip than you can get with boots on. Boots just don’t flex the same way and cannot provide as much surface area (or feedback) in that situation.
Another situation that seemed a bit contrived was their fire situation. First, Cody (using the rubber from the bicycle tires to hold it together) built a killer pump drill.
It worked the first night, despite the endemic damp conditions of the Pacific Northwest. But the second night, their wood was damper and Cody couldn’t get it to go.
They did spend the night in a really interesting basket-weave shelter.
This is where the show is at its best, showing different techniques for shelters (and, frankly, different techniques for starting fire).
The thing is, I think Cody gave up way too soon. They’re showing exercising their way through the night to keep warm. Well, they could have exercised by working the pump drill. They even had a mutual apology conversation about the fire.
Joe: I owe you an apology, man. I should have never have left that damn rucksack on the ground. I mean, I hosed us, with a capital “H”.
Cody: Joe, you didn’t do anything wrong. The reality of tonight is, I had an ember, and I lost that ember. I was complacent for one or two seconds, and stopped driving O2 to it. That’s operator error.
Obviously, this was set up to show the technique of exercising through a cold night. But it meant that they didn’t try other things. They could have looked around for drier wood, instead of relying solely on what they’d carried with them. Cody complained that the point of the pump drill was getting worn down and was starting to bind. Well, he built the thing in the first place—he could pull out his knife and reshape it. Heck, he could build a brand new one if he wanted to.
I bet they could have gotten a fire started if that was what they really wanted to demonstrate at this point.
The ending was probably also set up, but it was a funny one. Joe and Cody have made their way down to the highway along the Klamath River (California 96, in case you are curious) and a truck is coming along that might rescue.
Instead the occupants flip them off, yelling:
Get out of the road, you damn hippies!
I thought it was a great season. Things started off a bit different without Dave Canterbury, and it took maybe an episode or two to ease Joe into things. But I think they’re recaptured the formula.
I hoping for and looking forward to another season.