Survival shelters: Scout Pit
Thank goodness for the rains, you think. If not for that, we wouldn't be alive. There was lots of it on the rare occasion it fell, mostly wasted as collecting was difficult on rooftops. A lot evaporated and of course it wasn't sanitary unless you collected it immediately, because the birds would drink from it, or rats. You didn't collect from your own building of course, it's madness up there, people fighting over water. Your own buckets are placed on other commercial buildings, and you harvest at odd hours quietly. People don't think to go there as there's little to harvest there, and it's why you deliberately set up a water collection station there.
They were going from building to building, taking whatever food and water they could find. You were grabbing buckets and bleach instead. Now, they're dying of dehydration...even the marauders.
You've bugged out from your large urban environment. You had to...you were conflicted about leaving your apartment building, but the screams got closer and closer, and that was that. The next morning at 4 am, you and your family hastily slipped away in the pre-dawn hours.
You waited too long to leave. Others had left far before, but the mass movement resulted in clogged roadways, and people ran out of gasoline. Those same clogged roads mean that it's impossible for automobiles to navigate past the congestion now. Your family heads out on motorcycles and minibikes and you hope the kids can handle themselves on their smaller versions. They're noisy, but people are sleeping, and you get away. With the congestion and their limitations, you have to operate at a very slow speeds in places. It's so slow, maybe a bicycle would be better, but then if you needed to peel away, someone would get caught. You shudder at those images. Only the very quiet prepared hiding ones, or the feral kind... the dark ones are making it. The latter ones, if they caught one of your family....
The first few nights, you sleep under the stars in whatever "safe" places you can find off highways. There's little traffic now. Little gas to be found. There's occasionally abandoned cars, they are seen less and less as you make your way to the Midwest, but in every case, someone has harvested the gas by punching holes in the gas tank with a wooden dowel, and filling up a container, then putting that gas in the own tank. It's faster. You wish you could find a car to get some gas from.
There's some burnt cars too. You guess that some people caused fires when extracting the gas, as there's bodies in them. You guess they used a screwdriver, and the brief spark ignited the gas vapors. The kids longer scream when they see the stiff prone remnants. “There's one.” That's all they note as they look away.
On down the road, you run out of gas. You can't carry everything, and so luckily it's not a bad area. There's forests nearby, good cover, elevation, nearby hills to climb to see your surroundings, fresh water sources too. No meadows though, but it's Autumn, and planting season won't come for awhile.
The tents are nylon, bright blue, and you wish you picked another color, but you were lucky to have them. They're light, and so fast to erect, but stand out like a sore thumb. They won't hold up to the sun's rays, and the UV radiation will eventually disintegrate tiny fibers in the fabric, and they'll fray and since they're under constant tension, holes will develop.
You and your family have developed a routine. Either you or your wife rises at 4 am while the other has been standing watch. One cooks quickly in a dakota hole fire. There's a chill in the air in the mornings now, and everyone warms their hands by the fire. You don't let it burn long as the smoke and cooking smells carry on the wind. Whatever you cook then, is saved and eaten all day.
Then you bury the hole, and finish packing up. Most things are always packed up in case you had to leave suddenly. Everyone has a backpack, and they have abrasions from them. That and blisters. Luckily you have some corn starch, and you rub that into the areas that chaff, and it helps. You can't keep this up for very long. They're not used to it, and they're complaining. You've snapped at all of them, more than once, and you hate it. Worse, you know that their small cuts will get infected if not treated with medicines and rest. Right now, it's hard to heat up water, except in the mornings, and everyone wipes down with a little very mild soap solution then, and cleans whatever sore places they have too.
You hadn't counted on it happening to feet and the inner thighs. The rubbing of denim pants against your legs..it begins to wear against skin as you walk, it's chaffing theirs too. Of course you've all hiked on simple paths before, but never more than three miles, and now each day, you try to get at least seven in. That won't work. Your wife can make it, but not the kids.
After two weeks of that, someone accidentally makes a tiny tear in the tent. You patch it with duct tape, and realize that you're going to have to stop using them soon, and hole up somewhere. It's getting colder each morning and even in the evening, and you want a fire in the worst way. The allure of being warm would make things so much more comfortable.
You're staying longer and resting in spurts along the journey. You begin doing that to allow them to gain some strength between hiking and allow their tiny wounds to heal. You make your first debris hut, and while it's warm, it means that you have to make two, and the kids like it...for an hour, then they complain about the scratchy leaves and bugs. It's way warmer, and after the first night, no one complains because they're glad not to be walking so much and not being as cold.
You allow a campfire, just a Dakota hole style, and a hot meal in the evening and stories and the firmament of stars, it's all healing. Everyone's tension drops a little, and you fall asleep on watch and wake up at 2 am, and it seems that exhaustion is catching up with you. You splash very cold water on your face in the darkness and wonder how your present circumstances have happened.
You walk less and less, setting the goal to five miles, then four and that's every other day. This won't do at all, as you won't make it to your planned destination. You worry about someone else stumbling upon the cabin you have, and your tools and supplies there, and think, “Will they be living there permanently when we finally arrive, or will they have used up all the supplies and then moved onward?”
Your son twists an ankle. It's not entirely his fault. He was tired and stumbling in the early hours to get some firewood, and you have to wait now until he can walk on it. Sure, he might make it a mile, albeit slowly, but you don't know if you can find water there. Or maybe it's be in open meadow.
This could happen to anyone in a collapse. You have planned some, and then the supplies run out. The situation becomes unstable. Goals made on paper or in your head weren't realistic. You can't drive there. People can't walk enough to get to each way mark that's you'd decided that they could do. People get injured. People get cold. You're tired, and if you're tired, then they're exhausted. Exhausted people make field decisions that are not ideal.
One shelter that you can build that's more permanent is a scout pit. The deeper you go, the more constant the temperature, and if insulated and waterproof and not sleeping directly on the ground, then you can make a disguised one that is warmer. There's issues with it if the rains are falling and coming down a hillside. It will fill up with water quickly if flooding is an issue. Then you've spent a lot of time and effort on a essentially a mud pit. Still, it's worth showing you.