These Reddit Survival Stories Are As Horrifying As They Are Captivating

Stories of people surviving the wild are often told through movies, television, and books, such as 127 Hours or Wild. People like Bear Grylls even make a living off facing difficulties outdoors. But you don't have to be a celebrity to have experienced insane stories of survival in the outdoors. These survivor's stories can be just as amazing as the ones portrayed on the silver screen, whether they were lost in a remote location, dangerously dehydrated, or left drifting in the ocean.

In wilderness-survival stories, man vs. nature proves to be the ultimate test of will. Rapidly changing weather, rugged terrain, and complete isolation can be pretty terrifying. There are also a lot of potentially dangerous creatures out there, including poisonous animals that can kill you in an instant. Some Reddit stories even manage to cover the entire gamut of survival tales, from surviving freezing temperatures, to being lost in the desert.

  • Two Boys Drifted Halfway To Cuba In A Dead Boat

    From Redditor /u/NahDude_Nah:

    Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys. My step brother and I are 15 years old and our parents are being boring wandering around the park looking at trees and what not. We decide to steal the keys to our 16 foot skiff that was beached and go for a joy ride.

    We pushed the boat off the shoreline and into shallow water. We kept bumping up on the bars under us because there was a big slack tide at the time, so we decided to just wait before dropping the prop so we wouldn't ruin it. We let ourselves drift out a ways from shore.

    Now we are maybe 200 yards from shore and can't see the bottom anymore, so we decide to drop the outboard into the water, only the thing won't budge. We are pushing and pushing on it, but it just won't go into the water no matter what we do. We are still drifting because there was a very big slack tide that was just pulling our boat further and further from shore. At that time we decided we had better drop the anchor so we don't drift anymore. The anchor line was no more than 10 feet long, and when we dropped it we didn't slow down. At that point we surmised, the water was already too deep for it to hit anything.

    We pushed off from the beach at about 1:30pm and it was now around 6pm. The shore was more or less just a line on the horizon and the trees were barely discernible. This was a while ago (I am an old man) so we all didn't have cell phones handy like most kids do these days. As part of the rental agreement, the boat was also not supposed to be out past sunset so it didn't have any running lights or a radio. Our parents, we later found out, knew of our distress pretty quickly and were watching the boat from shore trying to figure out what we were doing. Once night hit, everyone knew we were in trouble.

    As the sun was almost set, we saw a light blinking in the breaks between waves. It was pretty far away but it WAS coming more or less towards us. It ended up being a really tiny little (for lack of a better term) make-it-yourself sailboat, crewed by a father and his kid. It was smaller even than our boat, which was tiny, and really not made for the ocean. The guy stopped when he saw us frantically yelling at him, and threw us a line. We told him of our troubles, and he jumped up on our boat and after some tinkering was able to get our prop to drop into the water. We were saved! He had his boat tied to the back of our boat, so we didn't want to start the prop till he got his away, but it was in the water!

    After he was about 10 feet away, we turned the key and it was dead. We shouted at him once we realized we couldn't fix it ourselves, but he had put his own outboard motor in the water after he took his sails down. He was headed back home and didn't hear us. We shouted and waved to the boy in his boat who was maybe 6 or 7 years old. He was watching us while dad had his back to us and waved back at us. They got further and further away till they were gone. We tried what we could but the key would just not power the boat at all. Later we would find out the battery on the boat was dead and wouldn't have been able to power a radio anyway.

    I forgot to mention, this was New Year's Eve...We knew it was midnight because of the fireworks show we saw light up the horizon. We saw other lights on the horizon too, police boat red and blue lights flashing, except they were on the Caribbean side of the islands, the wrong side. We were drifting south and they were looking for a tiny boat with no lights drifting north. Later we found out that the park ranger at Bahia Honda had told them bad information as to how to find us when our parents tracked him down and pleaded for help.

    We ended up being found by a Coast Guard rescue boat around 7am and were back at the station in time to eat all of the station guy's breakfast cereal. We had drifted nearly 40 miles during the night, about halfway to Cuba. Several times throughout the night huge cargo ships would pass relatively close to us since we were in an international shipping lane. We wouldn't have even registered as a bump to them and wouldn't have been seen without any lights. One really heartbreaking thing was seeing all the boats whiz by us all day and night, waving at them but none other than that one sailboat guy and his son stopped, saw us, or even got close enough to us to realistically see us. We probably just looked like we were fishing or something. We would shout at everyone just because we had nothing else to try so between that, my whistle blowing, and no fresh water, neither of us had any voice at all by the time they found us.

    ...The worst part of the entire evening for us both was knowing that Darren, my "shipmate's" dad swam after us. At around hour four or so, he decided he could swim out to us and help. He is an excellent swimmer and back then was in pretty great shape. He estimated at the time he dove in to get to us we were about a mile he swam as fast as he could out to us and made it fairly close, but the surf was pretty high that day...he made it close enough to us that we HEARD him shouting out at us and it gave us such a feeling of relief like we were going to be fine when he got to us, even though his head was still relatively a speck in the waves.

    He never made it to the boat though and then we stopped hearing him shouting our names. This was Darren's dad, and it brought upon SERIOUS feelings of guilt. Where was he? We were both crying because we thought he was dead and it was our fault because he tried to swim out after us. We both, at different times, jumped in and swam around looking for him out of desperation more than sense. Neither of us swam very far from the boat because in the dark...that boat is all you really have between you and that now very cold water. We didn't have any towels or anything on the boat besides our clothes and poor Darren didn't even bring a shirt with him so we used my shirt the best we could for warmth.

    Throughout the night we would cry and talk about death and what each other would do. There was no radio on the boat but there was a red whistle that was on the keychain. I blew that motherf*cking thing all night long and channeled my 7th grade shop class teacher (Wally Logue!!!) who taught me Morse Code. I blew S.O.S for hours and hours. When the Coast Guard guy finally found us the first thing he yelled was that he was going to "Bust whoever has been making all that dang racket with the whistle all night!"

  • This Survivor Fell Through Ice, And Was Too Frozen To Drive

    From Redditor /u/Chibler1964:

    A couple years ago, I decided I would go out and spend a few days in the wilderness near my house (I live in the middle of nowhere). I got my pack together including all the emergency stuff, essentials, a rifle, ammo, as well as a bunch of sh*t to ice fish with. I could hunt but also had spare food supplies. Drove out to where I wanted to essentially wander around and camp. I knew the area well, people knew where I was going, and since I was solo, I kept my phone and GPS locator on and had a map and compass as well.

    Well anyway, trip goes great and I'm hoofing it out three days later. At this time, it's below zero but f*ck I'm properly dressed so I'm like whatever. I'm walking out and I see the biggest f*cking burrell (not sure if that's just what my dad calls them) growing off a tree (like the weird growth things) so I start walking towards it with the rifle unloaded in front and ready position. I walk a few steps, hit a huge snowdrift, and my legs go right through. I keep going through the snow when there's a sudden "wooshh" cracking noise followed by an unpleasant rush of water into my lungs and nose.

    I'm still underwater and disoriented when I look up to see the hole and realize I'm sinking. I took the pack off (didn't have the straps buckled) and I don't know how, but I sort of rose to the surface where my rifle had somehow landed perfectly across where I went in. I used it to hoist myself out. Once out, I realized I had nothing but the sopping wet clothes on my back, my car keys, a set of waterproof matches, and some other odds and ends. At this point I panic and try to run but I felt like a frozen rubber band. My clothing was literally frozen solid, and I couldn't feel my fingers or feet at all..I have no idea how I made it out of there but I did.

    However, when I got to my car I couldn't get it open. The clicker wouldn't work and I don't have an actual lock to turn so I ended up busting my window with my rifle butt and unlocking it that way. I couldn't drive because I was shaking so much, so I just put my flashers on and laid my head down on the car horn (after turning the heat on of course). Luckily, a guy who was bow hunting heard it and thought someone was trying to scare his game away. I've never been so happy to see an angry hunter in my life. He drove me to the hospital and from there it was all uphill.

  • They Outran A Dangerous Wildfire

    From Redditor /u/Oldpenguinhunter:

    We went backpacking in the San Gabriel wilderness in California for a few days when a fire started (2002/3). We got cut off from our exit and were stranded. We were trying to follow a fork of the San Gabriel River, but the fire was charging down the ravine and cut us off. We were about 10 miles in and had to figure out how to circumnavigate the fire. It was really f*cking scary. It was really windy, smoky, and overall very scary. Giant towers of smoke were just piling up in the air and search and rescue was buzzing the area along with fire planes dumping water and chemicals (the red stuff?).

    Finally, we got to the top of the ridge to see where we would go from there. Our water was getting short since we were anticipating being able to use river water. We saw that we could get over to the next ridge and cut back down to the river so we set the compass and moved out. We got back down to the river and filled up on water. We had been up and moving since early AM when we started to hear the planes and helicopters and were f*cking exhausted/miserable. Our lungs hurt, our legs hurt, and we were all tired. The detour took us another three to four miles out of the way, added another 3-4,000' of elevation gain, and had ticks. Motherf*cking ticks. I hate ticks.

    So we finally get back to river, fill up on water, but can't stop. The fire is on our backs at this point and we think it is advancing towards us. We have about eight more miles to go and we all are seriously considering dropping all of our gear, grabbing the water filter and bottles, and just booking it down the river. We decided not to and just tough it out, which I am so glad that we did. After about another hour of making our way down the river, we ran into a search and rescue squad!

    We all were just blown away. I couldn't believe that this was even was even happening or would ever happen in my life. It was just surreal. We weren't lost anymore once we got back down to the river, but now we had help and encouragement. The Search and Rescue team was also equally surprised, looking at us covered in dirt/ash, wheezing, and just plain beat. They told us that we had to get moving as the fire was running along the ridge parallel to the river and was coming down the ravine.

    We booked it the f*ck out of there and got to our cars, which we then had to drive what normally would be a two hour drive but was now a five hour drive due to conditions and traffic. The only way they knew we were back there was because of our cars and a note I left on the dash stating how many people, how long we are going to be gone and where we are heading to. We were all so tired.

    Months later after the fire, I went back to an area we passed through on our hike and the area was completely scorched. We would have been some crispy critters if we slacked and rested.

  • This Lucky Soul Lived Because Of Wood Chairs And Tables

    From Redditor /u/Deaths111Head:

    So I had a good friend whose parents owned a tourist fishing camp in northern Ontario which could only be reached by a 45 minute flight or an hour and a half train ride. One winter I headed out there with him and another friend to do a job for another camp on the lake. The job involved shoveling snow into a half buried shed that is filled with Rubbermaid storage bins containing ice. The snow and ice last for most of the summer and it's how they refrigerate. Job goes well, make some money, drink, snowmobile around, sleep in a winterized cabin, and in general have a good time.

    The following year, I get a call from the camp down the lake, my friend is unavailable so they want to know if I'll do it by myself. Sure why not, what could go wrong. So I pack up all my gear, take a train ride one and a half hours into the Northern Ontario wilderness in the middle of winter and head to the camp. I get off the train into a nice snowfall and a temp of -25 celsius. Running off of memory, I start out on the lake towards the camp. Not even five minutes out on to the lake the ice starts to break, I manage to get a couple of steps once this happens, throw my gear while jumping forward and sprawling out spread eagle. So my body is half in the water half out, somehow I manage to wriggle clear of the water and collect my gear.

    I'm soaked, it's -25, and my only option is to get to the cabin to get dry and warm or die. So I hike about 2km around a peninsula and expect to see the cabin in the bay, which it wasn't. I had gone the wrong direction so I now need to back track and head the other way adding extra time.

    I finally reached my destination half frozen and definitely feeling the effects of hypothermia. I'd been shaking uncontrollably for the better part of two hours. Now there was supposed to be a cabin left unlocked and stocked with wood and a pile out back, however there was no cabin left unlocked and definitely no wood inside or otherwise. So I made a fire of the little bit of wood in the wood box and proceeded to burn everything I possibly could, including chairs, a kitchen table, and the wood box itself. It wasn't much but it did the trick, I was warm and my clothes were drying, I even managed to heat up some soup. After warming up enough I threw my stuff back on and went and broke into the other cabins looking for wood, there wasn't much but I thought it'd last for the night, so I threw it on the fire and went to sleep.

    I'm not sure what time I woke up since my watch was frozen solid but I was shivering uncontrollably again and looking in a mirror by candle light, I could see my lips were purple and my face white as a ghost. I knew that I had to get warm and that if I went back to sleep I wouldn't be waking up in the morning. So I got dressed (put my boots on I was still in my gear) and went out to get wood. Luckily, it was a full moon and I was able to see fairly well. I started by shoveling every heap of snow I could see looking for the alleged woodpile but the only thing I found was a stump. Knowing the stump wouldn't be enough, I grabbed an axe and started to cut down green trees. I managed to get a fair bit and with the help a few more broken chairs from other cabins and some kerosene, I got a fire going. The smoke from the green pine branches filled the cabin making my eyes water but I didn't care, I was warm.

    The following day the first thing I did was cut down some more trees. I made sure I had enough to keep the fire going all day and night. Other than that, the rest of the time went by alright. I got the job done, had a good night sleep, and caught the train the next morning. Needless to say when asked the following year I declined the job.

  • He Was Stuck In An Icy Crevice For Hours

    From Redditor /u/Merovech13:

    ...My junior year of university, shortly after returning from winter break, my suitemates and I spontaneously decided to drive to Canada (Prévost, Quebec, specifically) to this 70-or-so person winter sports outing at McGill's lodge. I immediately came down with a minor cold. Although I still participated in most events, I decided to skip the early Saturday morning snowshoe-based "treasure hunt" for an extra hour of sleep and a lumberjack competition.

    Two of my suitemates pair up up and leave. I'll call them John and Bill. Later, Bill interrupts my lunch to ask me if I'd seen John lately. I told him no, but that I'd look for him. Turns out that Bill and John had violated the first rule of the wilderness and split up when John decided to climb up a ledge with which Bill was not comfortable. John's extremely athletic, so neither of us are really worried but just in case, we look around. I walk over to the nearby hockey rink, see a guy that looked like John, turn around (without actually verifying that it was him, which was my stupid action during this), tell Bill what I saw, then go back to lunch.

    A bit later, I'm talking to Bill again and he says that he was still worried, since he hadn't seen John...We walked back over to the hockey rink, and lo and behold, John isn't there. Yeah, not a happy moment. We set out a general call and nobody has seen him. We decide to pack some rope and general rescue gear, etc. and hike to the mountain where Bill said that he left John. Literally right as we walk out the door, John walks in. That's effectively where my part of the story ends.

    Turns out that John had decided to scale a cliff that looked like it tapered off at the top but actually didn't and he slipped on the ice. By some luck of Providence, he caught his hands on an outcropping before he fell 50 odd feet onto icy rock. By that same luck, the outcropping was far enough down that he couldn't swing himself back up onto the ledge. How he held on for ten minutes, I'll never know (I mean, I can't verify that it was that long, but he was pretty adamant about it). He kicked off his snowshoes, but still couldn't find a grip.

    Eventually some sort of animal, I forget what though I'm sure that he remembers, came along. He says that he had a deeply spiritual moment there; himself, the animal, and death, and it inspired him to swing his body to the side and into a crevice in the rock, where the crevice held him up like a nail in a wall, allowing him to release his hands. He said that it was pretty painful, but he stuck like that for a few hours (from morning until at least lunchtime, so I know that this time span is definitely accurate). Eventually, two climbers from D-Mont Blanc, who had planned to climb that mountain face (with better equipment and know-how) found him and got him down.

    Later we discovered that the d*mned idiot lost the rental car keys during this, but that is a another story.

  • Caught Trying To Swim Against A Vortex

    From Redditor /u/HappySoda:

    ...I was in San Diego on vacation. Went to the beach and swam out to sea. I'm a pretty strong swimmer, so I had no fear of water. Everything went as expected, until I was trying to return to shore. Instead of going straight back, I started to swim towards a pier. I wanted to see what's going on there. Before I knew it, I felt myself being dragged into a vortex, unable to swim out. The more I paddle, the worse it got. Soon, I was missing breaths and started to swallow water. I thought I was going to die.

    In a last ditch effort, I let myself sink underwater so I can get my bearing and make a final dash. I pretty much did everything wrong up to that point. But luckily, my last blind dash just happened to be cross current. After several breaths and some reorientation, I was able to swim perpendicular to the direction of the waves away from the vortex and let them carry me back to shore.

    That was the closest I have ever been to an acknowledged near-death scenario.