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There’s a better way, he says: Eat dandelions, plantains, and cattails, which are common in forests and offer vitamins and antioxidants. (Leaves are your best friend in the cold, Shane tells me: “Crumple a bunch up and stuff them into your clothes—instant insulation.”) The finished hut should be just big enough to lie down in and will keep you warm even in subfreezing temperatures. Just outside the fire, he digs a little hole, scoops in some just-created charcoal, and repacks the dirt. “Don’t eat insects,” Shane warns, looking at me like I’m insane. Some of those reality shows are dumb.” It’s true, he explains, that many bugs are packed with protein—but unless you lug around an insect manual, it’s tough to tell which are dangerous. You should have so many leaves you never want to see a leaf again—then add more leaves. It’s gotten so bad we need smart watches (or fitness trackers) because our phones are just too damn far away.
I give it a try—after three back-and- forths, the wood flies from my hand.
“Mother Nature’s always giving, you just need to know where to look.” . “You can make it in 90% of the world, and it’s effective 90% of the time,” he says. And if I can’t build a fire, quench my thirst, fill my belly, and sculpt a shelter, I’ll just ask Siri to call me a Lyft.
They didn't arrive together, but the actual time spent together was more than an "oh hey, what a coincidence! It would have been a similar scenario a few years later when both appeared on the Hope for Haiti Now telethon in 2010—Rihanna from London, Leo from L. Still on different continents, but still an indicator that they have more in common than joie de vivre.
Considering their cosmic paths crossed every few years, then they were right on track to actually shake hands in 2013 or 2014.
The first whispering of a rumor hit the hookup radar when they both rang in 2015 from the comforts of St.
Barts—though there's no evidence that either was any the wiser to the other's presence on the celeb-friendly island.
“Don’t leave a gap between layers,” Shane warns, “or the first will burn out before it torches the next.” Next he whips out a made-in-the-wilderness “bow saw”: two pieces of wood and a thin strand of rope made from tree bark (for instructions, go to ).
He “saws” the rope against a third piece of wood, back and forth, faster and faster, harder and harder, creating friction.
“No service.” Shane leads me down a twisty path through the woods, all the while pointing out rare birds, trees, and boot marks. “Grab more kindling than you think you’ll need,” Shane says.
“And get it from more than 100 yards away from your shelter—that way, you’ll still have some nearby later.” I scrounge for twigs and branches. “Smaller,” he advises, then gives a rule of thumb: The first kindling layer should be as skinny as pencil lead, the next as thick as a pencil, then a pinkie finger, index finger, then thumb. Once we’ve collected enough skinny branches, we arrange them into a vertical tepee, of sorts (flames like to climb), stacking the pencil-lead twigs against one another, then layering on the pencil-thick twigs, and so on.
“It’s full of water.” We cut it open with a machete, and out come a few drops. Then you put an empty cup at the bottom.” Cover the pit with a tarp, a garbage bag, or even a piece of clothing; pile dirt on the edges to keep it in place; and put a small stone in the center, so it sags. By the next morning, the condensation from the mud, and your piss, will be clinging to the bottom of the tarp and flowing down (due to the sag) into the empty cup. I now prepare myself for the ultimate outdoor survival hack: eating bugs. Now take a third, very strong branch, about twice as long as you are tall, and lay its end in the Y’s of the two sticks to create a long tripod.