The Darwin Awards

2009 At-Risk Survivor

Next Prev Random At-Risk Survivors have misadventures that stop short of the ultimate sacrifice. Nevertheless we salute the spirit of their colossal blunders with an Honorable Mention. Better luck next time!

Birch Slapped
2009 At-Risk Survivor
Unconfirmed by Darwin

(Personal Account)
(11 July 2009, New York) On the third day of a ten-day camping trip in the Adirondacks, our guide noticed a dead birch tree leaning toward one of the tents. This was dangerous! The guide enlisted two of my church friends to help deal with the tree situation.

First they tried pushing the fifty-foot tree over--it was leaning at quite an angle--but that had no effect whatsoever. Then they whacked at it with trekking poles, but that only scraped up the bark. Finally they decided that the only alternative was to pull down the tree.

The guide removed the haul line from the bear bag, and threw it over a short branch halfway up the tree. By pulling on each end of the line, they planned to wedge the dead tree against a sturdy live tree that was situated well away from the tent. They figured that this would avoid damage to the campsite.

Now, the plan was to pull as hard as they could until they heard the wood crack, then let go and run as fast as possible away from the falling tree. But somehow our hero missed this memo. On the count of three, they began to pull on the rope with all their might, and as they strained the tree began to shift, and suddenly--CRACK!

Everyone began to run. Well, almost everyone. Our hero hid behind the target tree, covered his ears, closed his eyes, and crouched down dead in the path of the falling tree. The birch bounced and landed less than a foot away from him! The guides were mad, of course, but everyone else was laughing too hard to be angry. Especially me.

That was one of the many highlights of our ten day camping trip in the Adirondacks. I told our hero, "When I get home, I'm telling the Darwin Awards about this!" And now that I'm home, I have.


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Reference: Matt Monitto, personal account

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