Any favorite wild places in the U.S.?
The Alaskan mountains and coastline, Utah’s Canyonlands and Hells Canyon, and the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Are there areas you’d like to explore?
The temperate regions of the Rockies and remote rivers in Montana.
Why did you decide to work with BACKPACKER as a guest editor?
It’s a fantastic way to reach people who share many of the same values that I love, namely survival ingenuity, mountain freedom, and old-school adventuring.
What do you hope readers get out of this issue?
Good tips learned the hard way and a realization that, as humans, we are capable of so much more than we often imagine of ourselves.
What have all of your survival experiences taught you?
I have learned that I am not as invincible as I used to believe. You have to be so careful in the wild. Initially, you have to learn how to slow down and tune all of your senses in properly. When you reach that point, you can start to move faster, but by then, if you are in tune, you are totally aware of what is happening around you.
I have also learned that you only get it wrong once, so be smart, weigh risks carefully, and trust your instinct: It is the nose of the mind. Everyday life covers up our instinct, and it takes a while to learn to recognize it again.
Finally, I’ve learned that together, we are always stronger. People often ask me: “Does the crew help you?” and I answer, “Yes, of course.” We are a small team, all experienced ex-military guys, and they are best buddies of mine. Every moment of every day we have to look out for each other. It is how we have survived so many hard places—by working closely, with no ego, and looking out for each other at every step. Ego in the wild kills. •
Bear Grylls is the author of 10 books. His latest is the bestselling Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography of Bear Grylls (Harper Collins Publishers).