Within the frigid wilderness of America’s most northern state, one brave man is intending to strand himself on an uninhabited island and live like a hermit for a year.
For 17 years, oil company employee Charles Baird has harboured a usual dream; to strike out into Alaska’s forbidding wilds on his own, and test his limits with a modern-day “homesteading” experience. Much like the determined pioneers of yore, Baird will live largely without civilized conveniences and also telecommunications – he won’t even know the results of the upcoming American presidential election until six months after the winner has been determined. His only contact with the outside world will be one-way satellite uplink that will allow him to post Facebook updates.
Baird’s home for the next year will be a small plot of land he purchased on Latouche Island, which is located at the western entrance to Prince William Sound, in the southern part of Alaska. The island has a storied history, despite its current desolation; it was named by the famous Captain George Vancouver, and the globetrotting Captain James Cook was in the neighbourhood a decade previous. A copper mine kept the island populated with thousands of workers throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but a sharp drop in commodity prices after WWI led to the closure of the mine, and the settlement was quickly abandoned.
Now, Latouche has been reclaimed by endless forests, with little remaining of its once-bustling human presence. The occasional hunter may visit the island; however, Baird will likely spend most of his sojourn in a lonely silence. And if the solitude doesn’t bother him, there are plenty of other challenges – like the weather. The island falls along North America’s so-called “Wet Coast”, which, as part of a technical rainforest, has its name for a good reason. Latouche Island, according to local media reports, receives a staggering 70 inches of rain per year, plus snowfall that can range from 80-120 inches a season.
To protect himself from the elements, Baird plans to construct a small 12×12 residence, which will hopefully keep out some of the cold and dampness – not to mention the black bears that roam the region, which can weigh up to 550 pounds. Fortunately, he intends to be well-armed on the island, since hunting will be is primary source of food during his year as an intrepid pioneer. He will be bringing a few provisions with him, including building materials, a windmill, a large basket of grains, and 20 gallons of fresh water in case he hits a dry spell when he gets to the island.
In an interview with ABC News, Baird appeared optimistic, but he sounded cautious about the issues that will arise during his island adventure. “It’s meant to be as isolated as possible, that’s really the biggest challenge,” he said. “My main concern would be to make good decisions.” In preparation for his long period alone, he discussed his plans with two psychologists with expertise on human isolation. However, Baird will actually have some company to keep his spirits up– and just like the character played by Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway, his companion’s name is Wilson. Only for Baird, it’s a dog, who should be much better company than Hanks’ volleyball.
Read more about this story: ABC News
Keep track of Charles Baird’s progress: http://www.facebook.com/AlaskanPioneer