“Deadly Dunes” was the second-to-last episode with Cody Lundin. It was actually quite a fun watch, even though it did still have a few frustrating bits of misinformation in it, and the usual arrogance of Joe Teti.
“Desert Dunes” took place in Oman, in the Arabian Desert.
But first let me remind you that the blow-up show is on tonight at 9:00 EDT. This is the one in which Cody gets fired for refusing to go along with some piece of supposed “survival” the producers tried to foist on him. (That’s a guess; we’ll see what is shown tonight to find out more, keeping in mind that the producers are in control of what they show and how they portray things.)
Here’s the official description of tonight’s show:
Glacial Downfall — For their final adventure as partners, U.S. military veteran Joe Teti and survival instructor Cody Lundin must rely on their differing styles when they are left clinging to opposite ends of a rope in a frozen environment.
And now on to “Desert Dunes”.
The scenario they pick up on is a camel-rider photographer who gets bucked off with the camel running away. They then have to work their way out of it.
While they start out on sand dunes, they work their way to mountains they spot in the distance.
Don’t forget that Cody’s survival classes are located in the deserts of southern Arizona, so he really knows what he is doing in this sort of situation. Here’s what he says
Cody: The Bedouin are my personal heroes. They my master teachers for desert survival.
* * *
My training is dealing with nothing. The more you know, the less you need, and that’s Bedouin to a tee.
That’s also survival in general. While you can try to bring supplies in case you have trouble, knowing what you are doing is worth more than anything else. This is something that Joe doesn’t quite seem to get. His military gung-ho attitude is fine for . . . the military. But I think it would lead to all sorts of deadly mistakes in a real survival situation. (Note: While Dave Canterbury had the military experience, he also knew survival inside out.)
They start out on the sand dunes, supposedly in the morning before things are heating up too quickly. Here are Joe and Cody trudging along.
I do wonder how the sand is feeling on Cody’s feet. I’m sure that his desert experiences have given him a bit of a Seri boot, so they are well-conditioned to such hot conditions. I do wonder just how hot he could stand, though.
Looking at the picture, shadows are at about 45°, so that’s about right for 3 hours after sunrise. And (based on my experience descending into the Grand Canyon) the sand should still be quite comfortable to walk on.
From here, they climb to the top of the highest dune to see what’s around them and figure out where to go. And then we get a silly (and wrong) warning about mirages.
They see trees off in the distance (using a binoculars), but then worry about whether they are a mirage, and give us a little lecture about mirages.
OK, mirages are an optical illusion caused by the refraction of light through the hot air (actually, different layers of air with different temperatures). It looks shimmery and reflective, and the reflective part makes it look like water. It can also make things appear closer than they are.
But that’s a clear image. It’s obvious the trees are really there, and this is just useless drama that is being introduced.
I would also add that this early in the morning the air has not heated up enough for a mirage, and that’s why the tree image is so clear.
The other thing that can fool you in a desert is a hallucination. That comes from acute dehydration or heat prostration. They just got there—it’s not a hallucination (and they both wouldn’t see the same thing).
There was also a little segment with Joe-being-an-ass. He gets on his high horse again dissing Cody.
The narrator has let us know that there are Horned Vipers in the desert.
Joe: Cody does not have shoes on. It does not make any sense whatsoever to me why someone would come out here to this environment, or any environment, with no shoes on. It’s insane.
In his ignorance he has a false sense of security. Does he really think a viper bite would only occur on the thickest part of his boot, or that even then it would necessarily protect him? Don’t forget what happened to the boot-wearing executive producer of “Naked and Afraid” in Snakebitten.
One of the most important things going barefoot in these situations does is make you slow down and think, to be more aware of your surroundings.
But Joe just prefers to bull right ahead. I really do wonder how long he’d last just on his own, and how long it would take for him to do something particularly stupid.
(Then one thing I found quite amusing was when they showed Joe shaking out his boot in the morning and finding a scorpion in it. I can guarantee you that Cody has never found a scorpion in his boots.)
At about this point Cody spots a Spiny-tailed lizard and captures it. Joe, of course, hates the delay.
Cody: I’m going to process this.
Joe: Well, we both know we can’t eat that right now, because we don’t have any water.
Cody: I know.
Joe: So, tell me what your plan is, Cody, but . . .
Cody: I have a plan.
That bit about “we can’t eat that right now” is another reference to metabolic water, which I’ve discussed before, and which I’ll say quite a bit more below.
Then Joe gets insultive again.
Joe: To be perfectly honest, Cody does not have the mental or physical endurance that I have; he just doesn’t, and right now, he’s got that glazed-over tired look, and that concerns me. He moves like pond water as it is, and now he’s going to fiddle around with a lizard that we can’t even eat yet. If he takes more than 5 minutes to do this I’m stepping in.
I think they’re setting up getting rid of Cody. The thing is, if these shows are to be anything more than just “adventure” and are to be a learning experience, they have to be able to teach those of us who aren’t high-endurance macho men.
So then we get the metabolic water explanation from Cody:
Cody: Out of all the three macro-nutrients, the proteins, carbohydrates, and the fats, proteins use the most metabolic water out of the body to digest them. So this is pure protein as far as I’m concerned; anyone in a waterless situation, it’s dubious whether you’d want to eat protein. My plan with this is to get some sticks and spread this to do what desert people have done for thousands of years. And this is simply to use the desert refrigerator, which is drying.
As much as I respect Cody, I don’t think he really understands this.
I’ve looked into it more carefully. As far as I can tell, “metabolic water” refers to the complete breakdown of the nutrient to water and carbon dioxide. So, for instance, to find the metabolic water from straight glucose, you’d look at this chemical reaction:
C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6H2O + 6CO2.
That H2O is the metabolic water.
Now, protein does not “use” metabolic water out of the body; it still produces metabolic water, just not as much as carbs or fats do. (And frankly, it’s not much worse than carbs—fats produce the most by quite a bit.) But the other thing to keep in mind is that the proteins are not digested down to just water and carbon dioxide (and urea). The body only takes them apart to the point of being amino acids. As far as I can tell, the whole “metabolic water” thing really has nothing to do with what is going on in the body in regards to water use.
And you know how fat has a lot of metabolic water. Here’s Cody processing the lizard he caught.
He just tosses the internal organs on the ground. You know, like that fatty liver. Why not eat the organs right then and there?
And then Cody prepares the lizard for transport by drying it.
Doesn’t that just let the air suck any moisture out of the lizard? Mightn’t that moisture be useful?
So, I looked it up. Here’s some numbers I found for a timber rattlesnake, which probably isn’t too different from the lizard. This is from “Non-invasive measure of body composition of snakes using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry,” by Stephen Secor and Tim Nagy, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 136 (2003) 379–389.
For a 600 gram snake, it’s total body water content is 360 grams.
That just blows the whole protein metabolic water thing away. There is so much water in the tissue that there is no reason not to eat the protein. And then by drying the lizard, Cody is throwing all that water away.
Like I said, he’s just misinterpreted things. But from what I can see, there is no reason not to each protein just because you are in a desert environment and you are short on water.
From here the two of them descend into a wadi and work their way downhill. We get to see them split up a bit (still within calling distance) so that Joe can have a high vantage-point while Cody can search for water in the low spots. I liked this strategy.
Eventually, they do find water, and the technique of cutting the camel blankets and making a webbing to hold their water bottle so Joe could lower it into the pool far below was a good idea.
And then Joe’s inexperience, or bull-headedness, shows itself again. He put rocks into the bottle to try to weight it down. Of course that means that that end of the bottle is lower in the water, which raises the lip of the bottle so water cannot get into it.
Without those rocks the bottle would lie flat on the water, and water would start seeping into it and fill it quite easily. (Yes, I just tried this with my own water bottle!) Instead, Joe goes through elaborate dunkings with the bottle trying to get it to fill.
Even worse, nobody even though to let us know how Joe was doing this wrong, and now viewers will think you need to add rocks and dunk. Pfft.
Eventually, they follow the wadi down to were they can see a town in the distance. Despite Joe’s reservations, yet again Cody manages to traverse the landscape barefoot, and quite easily. (You’d think eventually Joe would learn.)
I know I’ve rather emphasized the minor faults of this episode, but overall it was quite enjoyable to watch, and the friction seemed to have been put there to add unneeded drama.
But it was a fun landscape to see them traverse.