The title sums it up pretty well. For the first thirteen years of my life I was raised in a tiny little house nestled deep in the forest. It was built in the 1800's and had changed little since then. My father was a professional mountaineer, nature photographer, and volunteered on the local search and rescue team. My mother was a botanist and biologist and also an avid mountaineer.

I wasn't entirely cut off from society, however. We lived close enough to town that I attended an ordinary school and had friends and the like, but when I wasn't at school I was at home. I grew up learning to deal without most technology, learning to grow food, deal with wild animals, generally survive in the woods.

Furthermore, from an incredibly early age my father began training me in mountaineering and surviving. I went on my first hike three days after I began walking. I started cross country skiing a year later. I climbed my first rock at age three, started kayaking at 4, backpacking at 5, climbed my first big wall at 11, and summitted my first mountain at 13.

We've moved to the suburbs now for financial reasons and I'm still adjusting six years later. It's a weird world here, nothing I was ever trained for.

Only proof I can offer are a selection of various pictures from my childhood:

EDIT: Keeping up with questions as best I can but I'll probably start missing quite a few. I apologize but I'm just getting flooded here.

EDIT: Somewhere in the comments (too busy answering questions now to find it) is the full version. But if you want to know how it became too expensive to live this way I'll give you the short version here. We were renting our property for very cheap as the landlord was a family friend. The property changed hands however and the new owner jacked up the price dramatically to a level we could not afford.

EDIT: A lot of you aren't fond of my evidence. So what I'm asking is what do you want? What will assuage your doubt?

EDIT: Going to bed now (11:45 PST -8 GMT). I'll try to reply to anything further tomorrow, but I have a bunch of things that need to get done. I want to thank everyone who has taken an interest and given their support. And to those who disbelieve or don't like me for whatever reason I want to apologize sincerely for wasting your time.

Comments: 1745 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

Frajer672 karma

Did your dad have a gnarly beard or a mustache? Is his name Nigel Thornberry?

frestus-silvanicus710 karma

His beard, mustache, long hair, and horrifying amounts of body hair put Nigel to shame. However he doesn't have the oh-so seductive voice of Tim Curry which is a real disappointment.

Skytea469 karma

santa lost some weight

frestus-silvanicus581 karma

You tend to be pretty trim when you spend most of your time saving lives and wrestling bears.

frestus-silvanicus304 karma

Pff. My dad would never be caught dead in bright orange hammerpants.

skmanBP163 karma

unohhoh smashingg

frestus-silvanicus447 karma


Remember_ThisAccount474 karma

As someone who has been in the woods for 5 months I can say that those 5 months were the happiest days of my life. Do you think that you were happier living in the woods than in the suburbs?

frestus-silvanicus664 karma

Oh much much happier.

TP_OVER_UNDER352 karma

Toilet Paper - over or under?

frestus-silvanicus1345 karma

Over. I'm not some kind of fascist.

Bushido_Plan239 karma

Without technology, as in electricity, toilets, shower/bathtub, stoves, etc? If so what did you guys do? What kind of food and drink did you guys have? Any medical supplies?

frestus-silvanicus408 karma

We had intermittent electricity and plumbing. Our gas line was pretty reliable thankfully. When the electricity was out we just used candles and oil lamps for light. Anything that required electricity to run we could just do without.

The plumbing was a bit of a problem. We had a big tub out back which we'd use for bathing and well... we'd do what animals do. We'd shit in the woods.

Food+Drink wise we had a lot of pretty normal things. Like I said we weren't terrible far from town so we could buy normal groceries but we usually bought things in bulk and canned.

We also had a huuuge chest of medical supplies. Everything you could ever need and lots of it.

BentMafkFilms449 karma

A tub and shitting in the woods is not plumbing.

frestus-silvanicus387 karma

I meant that's what we used when our plumbing wasn't working which was quite often.

Jokkerb262 karma

If you and your family shat in the woods "quite often" for 13 years, was there a well defined poop area that you learned to avoid? I would think 13 years of 3 humans pooping out back would create quite a lot of landmines, mud slides, and booty bombs.

frestus-silvanicus143 karma

Well there was one general idea but we had plumbing a fair amount of the time as well. We'd also do the old trick of doing your business then dumping a bucket of water in the toilet to get it to flush.

boomfarmer60 karma

Where'd you get your water from?

frestus-silvanicus121 karma

We had a well system with a pump.

rz200031 karma

I feel bad that this is turning into the point of interest, but were you near a river nearby, too, and was there a septic tank?

If so, why would you ever do anything else? Considering the enormous effect it would have on your quality of life, if there was intermittent water, why not get a small water tower for when it didn't run? And, considering that your mother was a biologist, too, it just sounds amazing that more time wasn't spent on a robust way to handle sewage.

frestus-silvanicus23 karma

Sorry don't know what to tell you. This whole thing happened when I was about 4. I could totally be misremembering.

antonfire41 karma

How would you get it fixed when it wasn't working?

frestus-silvanicus149 karma

My dad, at the time, did side jobs in construction. He knew a few plumbers who would come out and see what they could do. Most of the time my dad fixed it himself, but he absolutely detests fixing plumbing.

There was a time actually when our septic tank basically collapsed and the county paid for us fixing it so it wouldn't pollute the nearby river. A bunch of back hoes came out, dug a 20 foot deep, five foot wide trench almost entirely around the house and replaced most of our plumbing.

Theknickerbockers87 karma

Weren't you scared if you woke up at 2 A.M and had piss in the middle of the woods?

frestus-silvanicus321 karma

Not really. Only as scared as any kid is when he's got to go somewhere in the dark. I was never scared of animals, just the monsters of my imagination. I mean I learned early on how the various critters behaved, thought, communicated. I learned what to do if I encountered one, what to avoid so I didn't, how to track them, what their scat looked like. It wasn't a big deal. Mostly I was just concerned with getting the sweet sweet relief of peeing. Problem was, if it was cold out, let's just say... it's difficult to get two inches of frigid penis out of four inches of insulative clothing.

CryoGuy162 karma

Tell me about the time you were left in the forest with only a knife and a piece of flint and had to survive through 3 long months of dead winter hunting the nightmares that haunted you.

frestus-silvanicus384 karma

I do not speak of the Dark Days. Words hold power and I shall not give life again do those wretched demons and hellspawn that haunted my steps for what seemed an age.

GrislyGrizzly84 karma

Two inches! DAMN

frestus-silvanicus204 karma

Have you ever been a 4 year old in 2 degrees Fahrenheit weather? I don't recommend it if you care about your penis.

masamunecyrus48 karma

I'm interested in you elaborating on what to do if you encounter an animal, because I feel that I get conflicting information from nearly every state or national park.

Assuming I encounter an animal large enough to hurt me, say a coyote or larger, and it doesn't immediately run away when it sees me, is there any general behavior guidelines to follow? Or does it vary by animal: behavior for a coyote, a cougar, a deer, and a bear would all be different?

frestus-silvanicus147 karma

There really is no right answer. Almost everyone will tell you something different.

For the most part, the key is to NOT encounter the animal. Make a fair amount of sound as you walk along.

If it does happen however, I was taught the best thing to do is wave your arms over your head and shout all manner of blasphemy at it. My father's favorite phrase was "camel soup". I have no idea why.

If the animal does not respond to this, back away slowly. If you run they'll see you as prey.

jerstud56101 karma

I think what he means by camel soup is to make no in confuse the hell out of the animal so it leaves you alone.

frestus-silvanicus87 karma

That sounds like my dad's style.

Less_than_5237 karma

First thing I thought of.

Really cool story. Glad you were able to get some technology to tell it.

9/10 would by the book

frestus-silvanicus135 karma

Thank you fine sir and/or madam.

ryankatz173 karma


frestus-silvanicus364 karma

Some people are genderfluid or all manner of genders and that's the closest I can get in a small sentence. Also I find it funny.

mahandal149 karma

I like you.

frestus-silvanicus488 karma

I like me too.

drcface234 karma

What do you miss most about the country?

frestus-silvanicus992 karma

The animals I think. It was amazing being surrounded by so many different kinds of wild animals. A lot of them weren't that afraid of humans, or at least weren't that afraid of me, so I hung out with them and watched them.

The family of foxes especially, I miss. They were very skiddish at first but there is nothing more curious than a fox. I think I was about 12 at the time.

Anyways every evening I'd sit out in this large field behind our house where they always played. There was a mom, a dad, an older sister who was injured and acted as babysitter for the three kits.

At first they didn't know what to think of me and played at the other end of the field. Before long though the kits got curious and kept getting closer and closer.

Eventually mom decided if the kits were so interested in me she'd better check me out. One evening she started circling me. I sat absolutely still. She did a spiral and kept getting closer and closer.

Eventually she was about a foot away and was just staring at me. Then she suddenly nipped at my boot, tugged it a little, and ran off.

After that all the foxes kept getting closer and closer to me until they didn't seem to care. I could reach out and touch them briefly, they'd sleep right next to me. It was amazing.

Pengy945510 karma

That...sounds magical.

frestus-silvanicus485 karma

It was. I miss those foxes more than anything.

daily24228 karma

Awesome! A kindred spirit. I grew up in northern WI. 17 miles outside of a town of 10k. For several years I was taught how to hunt, fish, and thrive in the woods. I used to go out by myself when I was ages 10 through 13 for about a week and live off the land once each season. Even learned how to cold camp. We had electricity but for the first few years no running water so the outhouse it was. Thanks for reminding me of the happy memories of the wild life. Never know what living is until a brown bear momma shakes you down for lunch while waiting for the bus. lol.

frestus-silvanicus317 karma

I hear that. No grizzlies were I come from but a ton of black bears and cougars. Not to mention the coyotes were a bunch of real pricks who'd steal shoes off the porch and harass you and pee on everything you loved.

daily2492 karma

Oh man you just reminded me. The animal pee smell during rutting time in fall could be the worst. The whole forest smelled like urine sometimes. We didn't have coyotes, they were hunted out by the time my family moved there, but other small varmints/animals that would like to steal. The main ones were raccoon's and skunks. I still wonder, once in a while, what that raccoon did with the wrench it stole out of the back of my snowmobile. If it was shiny and left unattended it could very easily be gone. lol

frestus-silvanicus271 karma

Just about every mammal around was a kleptomaniac. I watched skunks, raccoons, bears, foxes, coyotes, rats, and even a deer steal things. Actually once I found the foxes' stash. I was wandering around in an area we didn't often go and under a big tree I found about 45 shoes and gloves. I recognized most of them. And almost every single one had fox shit on or in it.

XeroG188 karma

What is the best way to start a fire without any tools?

frestus-silvanicus328 karma

Well first off you've got to REALLY want that fire. Making a fire without any tools is pretty much the hardest thing you can do. If you really feel like it though, or need it so you don't die a horrible death, I'd say the bow drill method.

XeroG90 karma

can you elaborate on that method?

frestus-silvanicus216 karma

There's a bunch of tutorials online that will explain it better than I can but I'll give you the gist. You have a flat-ish piece of wood with your tinder on it. You then acquire some kind of pointed stick, a sort of curved stick and some string. You tie the string to the curved one and rap it around the pointed one in the center. Touch the tip of the pointed one to the tinder and begin moving the bow back and forth rapidly. It will spin the pointed one (which you should hold on the opposite end). This creates friction which creates heat and boom your tinder is on fire.

labrutued65 karma

I'm pretty sure that was the standard fire kit before flint was discovered.

frestus-silvanicus109 karma

It was. And still is in some places. Indigenous peoples who use it today are so skilled it can take them just a few minutes to get it going.

XeroG44 karma

Have you ever had to use this method before?

frestus-silvanicus116 karma

Never had cause to use it, no. I go prepared with various bits of kit. I've done it in practice though. It's still relatively difficult, but it's the easiest method I've encountered.

Zanowin141 karma

Have you ever found your self in a dangerous situation were you thought you would die? And how did you get out of it?

frestus-silvanicus410 karma

The only thing I can think of... well I wasn't ever convinced I was going to die, but the thought crossed my mind.

My dad and I were climbing together, it was my first time climbing a mountain and I was 13. We'd been pretty optimistic, choosing a peak at 14 thousand feet. It all went fine, we got to the summit and took a break.

On the way down, however, we began to see smoke. Soon we realized it was a forest fire happening below us on the mountain. At the time we were above the tree line, there was nothing but rock, so we were safe.

However we weren't really prepared that well for having to bivouac if the fire trapped us up there. Seeing that the fire was going the other way from the route down, we decided to take our chances.

For three hours we basically ran down the mountain. The descent wasn't that difficult, but it was very rocky. In the sky we could see where the smoke was and watched it, hoping it wouldn't come our way.

It didn't, but that was pretty terrifying.

latinagringa212194 karma

I always wonder how people deal with trash and waste out there. Or is it more something that when you don't have modern technology and conveniences, you just have less waste? For instance, I'm a female and it's my time of month right now. I think about your mom and feel sorry...

frestus-silvanicus77 karma

We had some big trash bins that we'd bring down to the end of our road where the garbage truck would pick them up. I think we did have a lot less waste though, but it's been a long time since then.

[deleted]94 karma

You are fucking awesome!

frestus-silvanicus266 karma

This has made me shed a single manly tear of bacon. Thank you.

PikaTchoo87 karma

I don't know if this was mentioned but I found this: Pictures match so is that you?

frestus-silvanicus69 karma

Yes indeed.

amiinal82 karma

as you started to connect yourself to the internet did you find a change in your musical interest? if you did what kind of music did you find yourself liking and what kind of music did you grow up listening to?

frestus-silvanicus228 karma

I found a LOT of change. I grew up listening to my parent's music, which I still like. Classic 70's stuff. Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, etc.

Now I'm actually really into metal.

Moovlin37 karma

I approve your choice in Music especially the dead. Kind of a dead head myself.

frestus-silvanicus113 karma

I love the Dead, Dire Straits, Bill Hicks, Bela Fleck, The Who, and a ton of Celtic music.

dmakan72 karma

From your pics, looks like you had an awesome childhood regardless of contact with technology. A few questions for you if you don't mind:

  • How old were you when you moved to the suburbs?
  • What was the thing that amazed you the most when you moved to the suburbs?
  • Did you have friends your age growing up in the mountains? Was it hard to make friends at the new place?
  • Any plans for school or future careers?

By the way, you will be my first pick when the zombie apocalypse hits the world lol

frestus-silvanicus123 karma

  1. I was 13 when we moved to the suburbs.
  2. This is going to sound silly but... it always smells like laundry detergent and dryer sheets. The first few months I walked around everywhere, getting the feel for my new environment like you do when you go to a new area of the wilderness. Every where I went, no matter the time of the day, I could smell someone doing laundry.
  3. I had a few. I've always been the type to have just a handful of friends but they are INCREDIBLY good and close friends. That was true even back then. They all lived... relatively close. All of them lived in town but about as close to my house as you could get while still remaining in town.
  4. I tried college for a year. It was interesting, I got to study a lot of things that I enjoy but... education has never really been for me. I homeschooled myself through all of highschool. In terms of careers... most of all I'd love to be a travel writer. But anything to do with animals, writing, or anthropology would be fine.

ivynuke68 karma

What is the worst thing about the suburbs and the best thing about the suburbs?

frestus-silvanicus297 karma

The worst thing is the noise. There is noise 24/7 here and it's hard for me to ignore it. People say the woods are quiet but that's the exact opposite. The decibel level is probably the same here, but the woods make SOUND, the suburbs make NOISE. You know?

Best thing is being able to just pop down to the shops if I need something. Hell I can walk to most of them. It's pretty convenient.

ivynuke73 karma

I have to opposite problem. Ive moved to the countryside in Georgia from Seattle. Can't sleep because too quiet.

frestus-silvanicus106 karma

I can see that. That area is probably quiet, not a lot of fauna around I suspect.

In the woods we had a family of barn owls living in a tree above our house, two backs of coyotes living nearby, a family of foxes, a family of raccoons AND a family of skunks living UNDER the house, a whole colony of brush rabbits out back, a breeding pair of red shouldered hawks, scrub jays, nutcrackers, rats, feral cats and all manner of insects so there was a lot of sound going on, especially at night.

In the summers the barn owls would start teaching their young to fly. What that entailed was them landing on the ground below the nest and shrieking at the babies for anywhere from 1-6 hours every night until they had all jumped down and flown around.

And don't even get me STARTED about the rats...

yourmomssnizz79 karma

Lifelong resident of Georgia here. We have lots of deer. They scream throughout the night with the fury of a thousand honey badgers in heat. Just so you know. Reference Science.

Edit: All of our owls are mute ever since the governor outlawed the word who or any deviation thereof back in '75... :(

frestus-silvanicus69 karma

Ahhh. Sorry, had no idea. The image I have in my head of georgia is as a pretty quiet places. I swear though you haven't heard anything until you've heard the unspeakable, unholy, unforgivable sound of a fox screaming. It sounds... well here's no way I can explain it, so here.

shuniah40 karma

Omg yes- the foxes...shudder . Its the auditory version of stepping on a Lego.

frestus-silvanicus8 karma

My mom said the first time she heard it she was positive someone was getting raped and murdered.

gnomicarchitecture67 karma

What was it like to first use a computer? Were you just baffled that you could ask google any question and get the right answer instantly?

frestus-silvanicus210 karma

Well we'd had a computer in our house and I used it when the electricity was on. But it was an ancient Macintosh mini thing. When I got the internet though (and a computer from this century) it was amazing. I still am constantly amazed at it. How people take it for granted confuses the hell out of me. You can find ANYTHING on the internet. Share your ideas with EVERYONE. It's a beautiful thing.

scottpaul525 karma

by anything you mean porn.

frestus-silvanicus60 karma

Yes. I mean did you know you can get videos of a donkey fucking a dead midget?

[deleted]62 karma


frestus-silvanicus121 karma

United States, California specifically

[deleted]40 karma


frestus-silvanicus104 karma

Well where I grew up were the San Rafael mountains and Santa Ynez valley.

michaelmofichael52 karma

Did you ever have friends over or go to people's houses? Did you drink soda and stuff or just milk and water?

frestus-silvanicus109 karma

Occasionally I'd have friends over or go to friends' houses. All my friends loved my house for obvious reasons.

Also mostly milk and water. And coffee. Started drinking black coffee at the age of 9.

WashburnSchecter121643 karma

Holy shit. Thats pretty young to start drinking coffee. Especially black

frestus-silvanicus183 karma

It is the way of my people. The sacred right of passage.

Dalski45 karma

Is there anything that you have now, that makes you wonder how you could have possibly lived at all without it before?

frestus-silvanicus91 karma

Heating mostly. We didn't have it there and the walls barely had any insulating. Not to mention we lived up in the mountains. It was very cold, to say the least. In the winters we would all just live out of the living room. We made these special heavy canvas curtains with weights at the bottom which we'd hang over all the door ways. We'd set up a few space heaters in there, board up the windows and it wasn't so bad. Going to the bathroom though... was unpleasant.

Dalski14 karma

Oh god, I can imagine. Do you still live with your parents now? Just curious, when you move out on your own (if you haven't already), are you going to stay in the suburbs or move out into the country?

frestus-silvanicus28 karma

Yeah I still live with my parents. Like I said in another reply I'd love to move back to the country but that may not happen for a while depending on financial options.

mufasamazing37 karma

Can/Will you start a YouTube series about what you learned without modern things? Like, about survival methods or tips you learned when you were young?

frestus-silvanicus54 karma

I like the idea but currently I do not possess an adequate camera.

biesterd136 karma

The first time you turned a computer on, did you panic and scream WITCHCRAFT!!! and destroy it?

frestus-silvanicus47 karma

Pff. No. For one I was about 6, I couldn't pronounce witchcraft. Also my mom always used the little macintosh and typewriters for work so I'd seen it in action plenty of times.

KidCadaver32 karma

Do you want to raise your kids the same way? If so, will you marry me?

frestus-silvanicus46 karma

I'd love to and plan on it but... sorry. I'm taken.

cluster_131 karma

You write really well. How would you describe the education you got growing up like this?

frestus-silvanicus48 karma

Excellent. I went to shitty public schools, but that didn't matter. My parents educated me well, not just in survival but in everything. In highschool I homeschooled myself and learned more in four years than I'd learned in my entire life.

wzpgsr26 karma

When you're whole family is crapping in the woods, do you all use the same spot, or do you have to find a new spot each time? What happens to all the poop?

frestus-silvanicus80 karma

You just find a random spot. The proper way to do it is you dig a hole, pop a squat, air drop supplies for the troops, then use biodegradable toilet paper and put that in the hole. You bury it all and it degrades. It even fertilizes the local flora!

ucbiker40 karma

Hehe, did you poop near flowers and watch them proudly as they grew?

frestus-silvanicus48 karma

I wish. Really the only thought I ever put into it is don't squat in the poison oak or the nettles. Nettle stings on your arse are... not pleasant.

amaturegynecologist23 karma

so what happened to the house since you moved out?did someone else move in?

frestus-silvanicus77 karma

Funny story that. We heard, a couple years later through the grape vine, that they'd totally restored the place. Spent thousands upon thousands fixing it up, making it habitable. We heard someone had moved in.

Then we found out that the guy who had moved in was a family friend who had no idea we'd lived there before. He was an etymologist and it suited him perfectly.

indecisivecat52 karma

I didn't know you could research word history in the woods.

frestus-silvanicus49 karma

Whoops. My bad. I meant entomologist.

Dud3wtf23 karma

Northern or southern California? And have you read "My Side of the Mountain" or any books by Gary Paulson?

frestus-silvanicus34 karma

SoCal. Oh man I totally forgot about it. My Side of the Mountain was my favorite when I was little.

Diabetesh19 karma

When you think of what you know survival wise, what skill is the most important?

frestus-silvanicus44 karma

Not losing your shit. If you can just keep your shit contained, just stay calm and disconnected you can think your problems through and make the best decisions possible.

Diabetesh35 karma

When I first read that all I could think of was "alright imma shit in this hole and I CANT LOSE IT."

frestus-silvanicus93 karma

Well that too. You don't want a dark wizard acquiring your shit and performing vile arcane rituals on it to create a gargantuan vicious poop monster whose sole purpose is your destruction.

allthewayhiiiii18 karma

What specifically brought you to reddit? In my instance, I can remember a new roommate just cackling at their darn iPhone in early 2010, then nature took its course.

Do you plan to move back to a living situation like your upbringing? Or are you pretty well set to live the rest of your days in a "typical" lifestyle.

What are your career ambitions?

frestus-silvanicus31 karma

What brought me to reddit was... well I view it as a giant hopper. I mentioned earlier how amazing the internet is to me, but a problem is you can't really filter it. You can't easily find the things you want. Reddit does that for you though.

Also I'd like to move back, but we'll see how that pans out financially.

Career ambitions... anthropology, writing, something with animals, maybe a park ranger?

Lumpy_Taco14 karma

Judging by how long you spent in the woods you probably hunted...but with what. (im mean brandname not gun-or-bow-simplistic-answeresque)

frestus-silvanicus24 karma

I don't remember the brand of the rifle my dad had. We haven't hunted since we moved and he brought it out only on rare occasion. The bow I used (dad used a gun, I used a bow) was a Barnett. Sorry I can't be of more help.

Mystrick11 karma

Envious of how you were raised and wish to live like that one day, but I grew up with the conveniences rather than without so it's a little different. I get the feeling that your dad or yourself didn't hunt but rather fished and ate what you got from the grocery, but did your family have qualms about hunting and if not, how do you see it now?

frestus-silvanicus18 karma

We didn't have qualms about hunting at all and we did from time to time, but there wasn't enough big game around to properly support ourselves on. One of my dad's earliest jobs actually was a hunter and trapper. Anything from deer to rattle snakes.

Docinabox10 karma

What do you miss most about the way you used to live? What do you have now that you could never live without if you moved back?

frestus-silvanicus29 karma

Answered something similar before. Basically heating. Oh god do I love heating. It's magical and fantastic.

Tikibird8 karma

Ha, you and my girlfriend might get along. She grew up in Alaska nearly the same way you did!

frestus-silvanicus53 karma

Is this an invitation to a threesome or...