"In the midst of the words he was trying to say
In the midst of his laughter and glee
He silently and quietly vanished away
For the snark was a boson, you see" - Paraphrased
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Last updated: 22/January/2012

Purchase This in Kindel Format

For over 16 years this book has been made available in various versions on The Skeptic Tank, and through those years a number of people have stolen this important work, altered and redacted it and sold it as their own. Here at this web site is the original work, complete and uncensored.

This work is copyrighted by Fredric L. Rice (that's me, the owner of The Skeptic Tank web site) and this book represents a considerable effort on my part, first having lived on the fringes of society for many years before "going straight," and secondly for having spent a great many hours perfecting and maintaining this book.

If you find it of value to you in your efforts to disappear, I wish you the best of luck, my efforts to provide this book has accomplished what I had hoped for. If not, do not be surprised since it is difficult to disappear in an country where overwhelming surveillance of an increasingly-invasive Police State is quickly making disappearing without a trace utterly impossible.

What you will find here is information on how to disappear in America, the book does not offer any moral judgment on why you may want to disappear, whether your motives are benign or evil. What this book does condemn is people who attempt to disappear, hide out, acquire new identities and attempting to take their children with them. Life on the street or in hiding from people, I have seen, is often more detrimental to children dragged along by a parent or parents than whatever circumstances motivated the de sire to disappear.

Before you begin, take with you my hope that you improve your circumstance, that you harm no one, that you evolve from whatever your current circumstances are in to a better place. The journey will be difficult yet your attitude, your demeanor, your professional approach to disappearing is what will determine whether are are successful or not at rebuilding your life, and re-emerging back in to society as a new person.

If you go in to hiding and have a Kindle or other hand-held reading device, consider purchasing from the author a copy of this book to take with you, the link for downloading in to your device is provided at the top right side of this page.

Good luck.

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Here are the sections you will find:


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Section 1: What I'll be discussing in this how-to essay

There are many good reasons to want to disappear from society. There are many bad reasons to want to. There are many good ways to disappear from society and there are many bad ways to disappear. While I won't delve too deeply into the whys of disappearing, I will cover my opinions on how to disappear successfully.

This essay covers what I consider to be the most salient points on how to disappear and remain successfully hidden in American society. If you have further suggestions, please don't hesitate to E-Mail me at the address provided at the bottom of this text so that I may include your ideas.

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Section 2: Understand who or what you're hiding from

You should consider the resources of the individual or organization which you're hiding from as well as their degree of motivation for finding you. Always over-estimate the resolve of those seeking to find you yet keep your estimations reasonable. Greatly over-estimating your opposition can cause you to behave in predictable, patterned ways, however. It is the predictability of your actions based upon your opposition's controlled stimulus which can get you caught.

If your opposition are police authorities, rest assured that they have decades of experience to back them up whereas to them, you're nothing more than another faceless fugitive on the run. To them you're no one special; it's not usually personal (unless you've killed a cop in which case they will get you -- and I hope you'll have an "accident" on the way to the police station.) To you, however, being hunted down is quite personal. They know how you will feel and will use that against you.

If you've entered the United States illegally to start a new life, (or are planning to) you must contend with immigration officials which have historically been under-staffed, poorly-managed, and staffed by incompetent (though often voraciously brutal) thugs -- high school dropouts -- who only want to carry a gun but couldn't make it in the police force. Unlike police officers, immigration officials didn't get into their line of work to help people; they got into their line of work to keep you out of the country and to track you down and throw you out if you do get in. Their desire is to subject you to their control, feeding their power trips, making themselves feel manly. Unlike police officers, they aren't out to help society, they're out to inflict misery upon the hapless and the down-trodden.

I mention this because you must understand who your opposition is when you go on the run and try to hide. The objective is for you to disappear and start a new, normal life somewhere else. Illegal immigrants face the exact same problems that those who wish to become anonymous in America face. The house wife who's been beaten into the hospital too many times faces the same problems which illegal "wet backs" face. The opposition, however -- those detailed to finding the house wife -- are quite different than those trying to find a cop killer. Know who'll be out looking for you when you run and hide.

The resources of your opposition will dictate greatly your behavior and decisions. If you're running from an abusive ex-husband or ex-wife, think of what their resources are and determine whether you should stay in the same State or whether you should leave the country entirely. If at all possible, plan your escape as much in advance as possible and work to limit your opposition's resources. This mean that you clean-out bank accounts if you can and you destroy all vehicles the opposition has easy access to so that they may not be used to track you down. (And they can't be sold to finance private investigators to look for you.) You destroy said vehicles in a safe and non-violent way, by the way; you don't want to hurt anyone and thus strengthen the resolve of the authorities.

Total destruction of automobiles can be accomplished easily enough:

Another important aspect of running from a spouse or boy/girlfriend: If they have firearms, think about getting them. If you are comfortable handling any firearms your opposition might have which you feel could be used against you, acquire them and -- if they're small hand guns -- deposit them in a postal box as soon as you can. The postal box on the end of any business district street is fine and it doesn't matter that it's close to your house or apartment that you're fleeing.

Assuming you're a housewife with little to no experience with guns:

  • Remove the firearm from its drawer, night stand, or under the bed or the closet making sure that you keep your hands and fingers away from the trigger. Nearly all firearms will not discharge if you keep your fingers away from the trigger. All firearms require the weapon to be either cocked before it will discharge else one must use a fairly heavy pull on the trigger to both cock and fire the weapon. If a weapon has been cocked, it could be that even the slightest pressure -- some three pounds or less -- could discharge the weapon. For this reason, keep your fingers away from the trigger!

  • Always be fully aware of where the barrel of the firearm is pointing. Keep it pointed in a direction which will not result in injury of yourself or anyone else in the event the gun discharges. Ground-floor apartment dwellers should point the firearm down. Other-floor apartment dwellers should point the firearm at the television, book-shelves, radiator, heater, or air conditioner -- anything heavy which would stop the bullet if the firearm discharges. Most apartment complexes' walls and most residential houses' walls are too thin to stop most of the popular projectiles.

  • If you know what to do, clear the weapon. If you don't know what to do or are uncomfortable clearing the weapon, don't try it.

    In revolvers, there is a round cylinder which you can see has a number of tubes inside. You should also be able to see some of the bullets in the cylinder if it is loaded. On revolvers, one must usually pull a long metal pin resting under the length of the barrel before the round cylinder will swing out to the left. In some revolvers, after pulling the pin out until it stops, one must also pull back the hammer before the cylinder will swing out. With an eye toward where the barrel is pointing at all time, clear the weapon by swinging the weapon's barrel up. The bullets should slide down toward the floor and into your hand. If not, having the cylinder swung open makes the weapon safe enough to transport to a postal box.

    In semi-automatics, there is ammunition stored in the handle of the gun inside of a removable clip. There is usually a lever at the base of the handle which, when pressed, releases the clip. The clip may not slide out on its own in which case you must press the lever and pull the clip out using both hands. On some semi-automatics, there is no lever but there is a screw which one must turn.

    Even after removing the clip from a semi-automatic or swinging the cylinder out a revolver, the weapon should not be considered safe. Check to see if there is a round chambered in the barrel. In a revolver, with the cylinder swung out, it will be easy to see if the barrel has a bullet chambered. In a semi-automatic, the way to check to make sure there's no round in the chamber is -- after the clip is removed -- to pull back the cocking mechanism to eject any chambered round. If there is, a bullet will be ejected to your right and behind you a few feet so don't be surprised when it does.

    After clearing the weapon, you should have a gun that either has the cylinder swung open or the cocking mechanism locked open. Most semi-automatics will lock open when the last round is emptied from the gun yet many will not lock open.

  • When you can, deposit the safely-emptied firearm in a postal box. If you couldn't clear the weapon, go ahead and deposit the firearm in a postal box anyway.

Leaving the firearm in a visibly-safe state will make it easier on the postal employee who runs into the firearm when he or she empties the postal box you drop it into. I suggest routing any firearms which might be used against you to the postal service because postal employees have standing orders not to touch what may be evidence and to contact the police. (The letters and boxes taken from the postal box will also be subjected to several day's -- if not weeks -- delays as they are checked and the origination and destination addresses checked. Because of that, you shouldn't deposit any letters you might feel to write in the same box as they will be delayed.)

The police will keep any firearm you deposit into a postal box for a long, long time, perhaps even destroying it even though it's not been used in a crime. The fact that you are missing will mean that the firearm will not be returned to your abusive spouse or boy/girlfriend to be used against you. More: In many States the right to purchase another firearm will be either revoked or denied until the disposition of your whereabouts is ascertained. Dropping your opposition's firearms into a postal box will effectively transfer ownership to the police and de-claw your opposition greatly.

Private detective agencies don't usually operate for free. If your opposition has no financial resources to draw upon, they are limited to a great extent. If you're a criminal, they'll still use the police agencies of the country to track you down, of course, at which point it's simply a matter of time before they find you. If you're not on the run for a criminal act, police authorities will have no reason to try to find you and, lacking private detective services, your opposition will be working alone.

If you're running from the IRS, know that your opposition has unlimited resources and, depending upon how much money you owe, a broad spectrum of motivation for finding you. If you're running from the criminal law, you should know that you will eventually get caught regardless of what measures you take to hide yourself. It's only a question of time before they find you.

In summary, stay motivated and work to reduce both the motivation and the financial avenues of your opposition. Know who your opposition is and what they'll likely employ to find you. Work to reduce the effectiveness of what your opposition is likely to do to find you. If your opposition has weapons which could be used against you, give them to the police by using the post office.

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Section 3: Throw away yourself and build a new you

Before you go to ground, destroy as much of the old you as possible. You want to go beyond making yourself disappear: You want to make it seem as if you never existed. This means that you should do as much of the following as possible before and after you disappear:

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Section 4: Keep from depositing traces of yourself

Every place you go, you inadvertently leave pieces of yourself. Every article of clothing, every door knob, every carpet, every telephone, every toilet seat you use will contain pieces of you. Your skin is flaking off all the time. You need to decide whether there is a risk of the authorities or private investigators looking for you tracking you through your blood type or DNA (which can be worked-up by using pieces of your hair.) After you weigh the risks, take the precautions you deem are needed.

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Section 5: Keeping yourself hidden

Running is the easiest part. Hiding is a bit harder. Staying hidden is the difficult part. The difficulties are determined by the resolve and resources of those hunting you. If the government wants to find you, they will unless you are willing to sacrifice everything.

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Section 6: People and Organizations Which Can Assist You

It's getting harder and harder to hide in America. There used to be a loose defacto "underground" of "freedom loving" people -- hippies, if you will -- who would provide aid, shelter, and comfort to those on the run from Authority (or The Establishment, The Man, The Fuzz, The P. I. G.)

These days, however, in our increasingly paranoid and dangerous society, offering assistance to strangers is a bad idea: It gets people killed. One must rely upon professional organizations which assist people who need to hide from abusive people. Professional organizations, however, will want you to have a virtuous reason for running and hiding and will want to help you by reporting you to the authorities if they feel they should. None that I know of assist you if you're running from a law enforcement agency. (Note: Foreign agents operating in America might be willing to assist you yet that falls outside the scope of this commentary. Arrive at the embassy of your choice and make your offers and perhaps they'll grant you provisional security from police authorities.)

The hippies have given way to another class of citizen. These are the so-called "skin heads," punk rockers, and New Age nuts. While many are social misfits, most interact with "regular society" in their off-hours and rock-out at night or on the week ends.

The anti-establishment and socially disassociated populace has always existed and has always been an asset to those on the run. Your job is to find them if you need them. Be honest with such people since they know the score and will shine you on if you're a lying jerk.

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Section 7: Employment: Food, Shelter While on the Run, While Underground

The idea is to run and hide only as long as you have to and then start rebuilding your life under a new identity. Homeless shelters, job placement services, and day labor can give you hope and help while you're struggling to make your new life. You're using a computer so I assume that you have food and shelter now and possibly employment. Save up your money before you run and you'll give yourself a chance.

If you're in a city or town, you stand a better chance of feeding yourself and keeping yourself from freezing to death. There are often shelters run by Christian, Muslim, or Jewish organizations which will feed you and put you up. It may be dangerous to do so simply because such places are usually -- nearly always -- in dangerous neighborhoods. If you're wearing the wrong color face, you have to compare the possibility of violence and abuse against hunger. If you look like you're on the run, you could be victimized in the city. Those who would victimize you know you won't go to the cops. You're on your own in an area where punks band together out of boredom.

Finding work is your best bet. You're using a computer right now so it is assumed that you have a job (or are married without a paying job) and as such have some marketable skills. Even without marketable skills, you can find employment if you're willing to work hard.

Suppose you're a wife looking to leave an abusive husband. Suppose you're a teen-ager looking to leave an abusive mother or father. How would you feed and house yourself when you run and hide? If you're young, you can expect to be raped (boy or girl) drugged, and horribly abused when living on American streets so you must consider that fact and go for a children's shelter instead.

Hopefully you've managed to save aside some cash but that won't last long. There are jobs that you can do:

No job, little to no money, and you're hungry?

There is often food stored in people's garages in rural areas where the population density is lower than the major cities and there's few homeless people on the streets. Freezers containing food are common. Gardens containing vegetables in the back yard is common. Theft should be considered a last resort however since the object is to rebuild a new, normal life, not a criminal one. It should be a last resort because there are other ways to get food.

If you're out in the desert or the woods, either running or holed up somewhere, you should face up to the fact that you're going to lose weight. The idea that with a rifle and a box of ammunition and a book of matches you can survive for a long period of time is wishful thinking. There are a lot of "survivalists" in the United States who, like their self-professed "militia" intellectual colleagues honestly believe they could survive in the woods if they had to.

That's nonsense. There was a time when it was possible but those days are long over. Biodiversity in the major Westernized societies has been decimated, often with pollution and introduced pests. Disease among the plants and animals you would eat must be taken into consideration. The deer you eat, the fish you eat, and the rabbits you eat will sustain you only for so long (if not make you violently ill) and then your body is going to need other foodstuffs. You can delay the eventuality of malnutrition with multi-vitamins but eventually you'll need to forage wider and wider for fruits, nuts, and vegetables -- not to mention fresh water which is often in very short supply. (Camp grounds, don't forget.)

If it was easy or reasonably possible to survive in the woods, everyone who hates their jobs would be doing it. Don't kid yourself: If you're on the run, you must remain in contact with human habitation and either work for or steal food or get food from a shelter in the city. If you're holed up some where (in a tent in the hills overlooking a city, perhaps) stock up on canned goods if you can. Don't rely on what you can pick up from the land. You run the risk of drawing attention to yourself as you visit the city (assuming you've got a hide out in the woods or desert) but you should consider adopting the risk since the alternative -- malnutrition -- is worse.

I mention this because the idea is to hide until you can rebuild your life and start living a normal life. If you eat nothing but fish for three months, malnutrition is going to reduce your chances of getting a job or having enough energy for working day labor -- or having the energy to run again if your hiding place is discovered. Keep yourself as healthy as possible by taking the risks needed to obtain processed foods.

Farms are a good place to find food but they're also a good place to run into dogs and farmers on horseback with rifles who also have access to telephones to report you. Orange groves, walnut trees, strawberry patches et al. often run along highways and they could be raided successfully and safely every now and then. You could work on a farm as "stoop labor" picking lettuce, oranges, grapes, and nuts in many States of the United States.

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Section 8: Checkpoints on America's Highways -- People Looking for you

Road blocks, police check points, sobriety checks, immigration check points, agricultural check points: You may be stopped and searched, your identification examined, and possibly compromised in America for these reasons while traveling on America's highways. Even if "they" don't have the check point up specifically looking for you, accidental catches happen frequently. (Ask any Highway Patrol Officer stopping a vehicle for a broken tail light. The California HP has the largest felony arrest record of any police agency anywhere in the world.)

If there's a road block up looking specifically for you, you'll probably not have much of a chance anyway and you probably deserve to get caught. Usually, however, a road block is up looking for someone else or, as is common during holidays, sobriety checks can get you examined by the police. You'll want to avoid that.

As previously mentioned, however, traffic stops and check points are going to be the biggest problem. They can happen at random without any notice. Agricultural check points -- such as one can find on highway 15 between Las Vegas and Southern California and the one on Interstate 5 near Grapevine -- are stationary and usually run 24 hours a day. The officers don't have authority among themselves to arrest or detain you if your picture has been circulated among them. The most they can do is request that you pull over and stop and, failing to do so, they press a button and the police cruisers on station at the facility will hunt you down and stop you.

There's really nothing you can do about stationary check points except either avoid them entirely or comply with the check point's attendant and smile your way through and just hope your face isn't in their book.

Roving check points and random sampling is something you have no control over. You may try to fall out of the set of profiles that cops are trained to look for to reduce the chances of getting randomly stopped and searched. Profiles cops learn to focus on are different from city to city, town to town, but you can bet that most of the profiles consists of:

  • Drug dealers or buyers. Drug dealers have a range of profiles they match. Drug buyers -- being from all walks of life -- have a much broader spectrum of profiles they match. Traveling in known drug trafficing areas is a bad idea. It gets worse if you're traveling slowly. You may have no choice if you're looking to purchase false identification papers in such areas, of course, but drug profiles are well ingrained in today's American police force. The druggie profiles are something cops "feel" and they're usually right. If you're on the run and you're in a drug dealing area, you may just smell suspicious and could get pulled over and asked what you're doing in the area.

  • Prostitution Johns. You may find yourself driving along a street that's heavy with prostitution. Though you'll probably not draw attention just for driving down the street, the density of cops along such streets will be higher than elsewhere so you'll want to avoid the area. Like with druggie areas, since you're on the run you may just give the cop a gut feeling something's wrong with you and get yourself pulled over. Such areas gives officers a courtroom-friendly excuse for pulling you over and searching you.

  • So-called "gang banger." You don't want to drive a car that's had its suspension fucked up, it's identification stickers removed (such as the Toyota logos the manufacturers put on) and mud on its license plates. You don't want to be driving a car that's missing its license plates. There shouldn't be a lot of clothing in the back seat which such a profile often contains since such people often change their clothes after a drive-by shooting or other crimes.

  • Cruiser. In many cities there is a major street which has become a defacto cruising scene for High School or college kids. It's usually a street that has restaurants or bars and coffee shops that are open until midnight or so. Cruising or joy riding is getting "cracked down upon" in most cities and you could be stopped if you match the profile of a cruiser.

    A cruiser will be driving at night in a clean car that's either a fairly new car, a restored classic, or any kind of car with a bunch of kids stuffed into it. If you're driving a clean 1972 Ford Pinto with the windows rolled down at 11:00 p.m. down Sunset Blvd. in Southern California, cops in the area will register your car the first time they see it. The second time they see you driving the street will convince them you're cruising and they may decide to pull you over. Even though you're minding your own business, you may want to avoid streets where cruising takes place if you're driving something that matches the profile.

The idea is to travel along America's highways without drawing attention to yourself and ending up getting pulled out of a check point queue or getting stopped by a cop. You should think about what kind of car and what kind of "look and feel" cops are likely to pull over and work to defeat the expected image. Get a couple of books and put them on your dash board. Something from Ann Rand and Albert Einstein, maybe, or something containing intellectual material. Criminals don't read -- they're stupid: That's why they're criminals. You want to look like you're Mr. or Ms. Citizen going about your lawful business and not a wanted fugitive or a missing house wife who's husband wants you back to further abuse you.

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Section 9: Summary

Your goals are to manufacture a new life under a new identity complete with legal recognition under your new identity. To acquire that goal, you must be ready and willing to do what it takes -- without compounding any criminal activities you might be wanted for. As mentioned before, that means discarding all your friends, your family, and your way of life in favor for new friends, a new way of life and possibly a new marriage with a loving wife or husband to create a new family.

The steps you take along the way toward acquiring that new life can be boiled down to these salient points:

What you want to do is make your new life to the point where if you're ever caught, your employer, friends, and neighbors will express disbelief when the cops haul you away. While getting caught shouldn't be part of your goals, you should consider the possibility and plan accordingly.

This is very important if you build a new family: Your wife or husband should be told who you really are before you get married. Since you're working to become a respectable, productive member of society, your prospective spouse should know your past before you get married!

Finding out your real name isn't Michael Johnson after five years of marriage won't help your wife maintain support for you when the cops come to haul you away. Letting her know you're on the run and for why you're on the run before hand means that you'll have support if they ever do find you.

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Section 10: Special note to Earth Liberation and Animal Liberation groups

You people are faced with extraordinary problems when trying to disappear in America that aren't experienced by the traditional citizen attempting to disappear for more traditional reasons.

Much has been written already about your problems and how to deal with them so this essay doesn't attempt to address them. Additionally I don't presume to claim to know what's best for you and your loose-nit organizations since your efforts are totally outside of my experience even as I share some of your goals. I'm (Fredric Rice speaking here, by the way) a vegetarian and I find the vivisectionists trade and the animal fur trade to be worth destroying totally -- however my venue is to employ completely legal avenues of recource. Still, if I may offer what I feel to be a salient point about the plight of direct-action liberationists: Your mind set.

In summation, I feel that there is a need within the direct-actionist community to get more realistic about who they are and what they're doing; that arson is a crime, that liberating animals is against the law. Not accepting the facts pragmatically, I feel, adversely impacts an activist's chances of avoiding capture.

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Section 11: South Western Deserts as a Place to Hide / Squatting

Where there's water, life is possible. True, it may be very difficult and very hard to live, depending, but anyone who's driven, hiked, or camped in the American South West will have noticed that cities and ranches crop up where there's surface water or where there's been a well dug.

Within the state of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, there are deserts, mesas, mountains, and forests where normally people never or rarely visit; not-so-secret places where there's water, access to a road within a day's hike, and where a fairly rugged individual may hide while remaining basically healthy, marginally well fed, and reasonably sane.

In this section I'll look at two such environments, neither of which I would recommend, but one of which I'd suggest is a reasonable way to live in basic health while either on the run, hiding out from the law, old girl friends, the draft for an illegal war, putative wives and such.

The first South Western environment (the one I wouldn't recommend except for the most hearty individual) is the Mojave Desert among the volcanic rocks where there's water if you know where to find it, and where shade from the relentless Sun can be built, if you know how to build it.

South Western Mojave Desert

Some years ago my brother Desertphile was tracking across the Mojave Desert in the dead of night, hiking a long distance from one water hole to another, using a hand-held Global Positioning System device, topo maps, and a backpack containing mostly water and tarp equipment for emergency shade.

While crossing the mouth of a small side canyon out in the middle of absolutely nowhere, he stumbled across squatters -- or more accurately their dogs -- living in a number of small trailors covered with camouflage netting over paint-splotched shade tarps. With no roads of any kind, the people living there had managed to some how drag small mobile trailors into the high desert and had been living there hidden from the outside world.

Thinking about this and the people squatting there, there were some very basic things they had done:

Anyone contemplating setting up a camp in the Mojave Desert -- or in any of the surrounding deserts -- would obtain a topographical map, note where the indicated springs, stock ponds, and other water sources are, and then would evaluate where to locate shade for such a camp. Then the individual would investigate the water sources to verify that they're wet and drinkable all year around -- or at least during the months the individual will be surviving in the area for.

Where exactly?

One possible wide spread area of interest would be the area between Las Vegas, Nevada, and some 30 miles West of Baker, California, North of the 15 highway -- perhaps within the hills along North Cima Road. Much of the lands located there are owned by the Federal government however ranchers subsidized by tax money run cattle which can be poached, and there's water which can be found.

South of the 15 highway is more volcanic and has less water unless you go to Soda Springs off of Zyzzyx Road where there's a ranger station and the Desert Studies center (filling up canteens there from the spring could be done without suspicions but filling up drums of water might cause people at Soda Springs to suspect you're living out in the desert.)

North of the 15 highway your topo map will show numerous springs, tanks, and stock ponds, many of which will contain water, and many of which will be dry -- but will not be listed as dry on the map so you need to investigate, take notes, take GPS coordinates, and plan thoughtfully.

Also North of highway 15 is cattle subsidized by U. S. Forest Service; cattle that has overgrazed and destroyed much of the plants and displaced much of the animals that used to eck out a meger existance in these lands. Poaching is illegal, of course, and could get you strung up, drained, and jerked like deer meat if you're caught, so perhaps you could look at cows -- what Edward Abbey called "slow elk" -- as an emergency food source.

If you plan on poaching, you should do your homework and learn how to butcher a cow and transport batches of the animal from the place where you butchered it back to your camp, figuring out how to wrap what you can't carry to keep flies, vultures, and other animals out of your meat until you can return for the rest of it.

Still, I'd recommend not poaching in the high desert out there not only because it's illegal, not only because if you're caught by a rancher he may decide to dump your carcass into a volcanic rock crack, but most importantly because you don't want to draw attention to the fact that you're living in the general area. A rancher coming up short on his count might very well put down the shortage to "natural causes" but if you leave remains to be found and the remains show that the missing cattle was butchered and carted off, the Feds like nothing better than to mount up a nice desert posse to come look for you.

How I Would Do It

For setting up a squatters camp in the deserts North of Highway 15 and West of Baker, I might choose somewhere in the Iron Mountain range, North of the military base, and South West of the bombing range. Here's what I would do:

  • Acquire topo maps of the area, and acquire an aircraft sectional map of the area.

  • Contrive a suitable explanation on why I'm treking all over the desert where humans rarely visit. With a digital camera, claiming that I'm creating an Internet web site to record some of the natural rock formations of the area would be a suitable explanation. The notes I take would be vague to others who might read it yet meaningful to me when I lay it all out for evaluation.

  • Note the dirt roads in the area, use a ruler to note as accurately as possible the indicated springs, stock ponds, water tanks, buildings, and towers in the area, writing down their logitude and latitude in a book of note paper. Figure out the worst-case distance between the water source and narby dirt roads.

  • Get on the Internet and do research on the names of the springs listed in the notebook to get an idea on what might be in the area and how often humans visit it. Also to get information on the types of plants and animals that live in the area, including nearby ranches and cattle.

  • Visit as many water sources as possible, hiking to them with a GPS hand-held device, topo maps, notebook, digital camera, a writing pen, matches, water (don't forget the hat!) I'd do as much of my hiking at night, stopping when the GPS indicates I'm in the general area, and then search for the water source at first day light, check the condition of the water source and then use the GPS device, topo maps, and maybe a compass to return to my car an hour ot two before sunset. Take digital photographs and make written notes about the area, the water, and signs of human visits.

  • Visit numerous ravines, craigs, and valleys in among the volcanic rocks of the hills and mountains in the area looking for a suitable camp site, making note of how far they are from suitable water sources. Such camp sites would have to be modifiable with tarps and covers that would provide shade and invisibility to aircraft.

  • After doing as much research on the water in an area, and as much research on likely camp sites in the area, all of the accumulated information would be placed on a table and all of the salient factors would be considered for where to place a camp:

    • Distance from dirt road where a vehicle can be parked so that supplies and camp equipment can be backpacked from the vehicle to the camp.

    • Distance and time from the likely camp sites to one or more water sources so that water can be fetched within a third of a day's hike. This would allow a water-fetching to take place comfortably within a single night. Note any hills, ravines, mountains that have to be bypassed to make it to water, considering that it will probably be done at night, and also note that the desert looks completely different at night than it does during the day.

    • Availability of rock formations that can house a camp that can have tarps cover it over.

  • After selecting a suitable camp site, I'd start moving equipment into the camp:

    • Park on the closest dirt road and hike into the new camp site with spray-painted splotchy desert colored tarps and other covering, water, matches, and bedding.

    • Set up the tarps and other covers.

    • Hike off in a circle around the camp and verify that the camp's location can not be seen by anyone who might walk around the area.

    • Spend a couple of nights and days under the tarp to see what living there would be like, taking note of how cold and how hot it gets. If something about the camp isn't acceptable, relocate.

    • After deciding that the camp is acceptable, stash some of the remaining water and bedding under the camp tarps and return to the vehicle.

    • Return to the dirt road, parking the vehicle a little ways off from the previous visits with additional equipment, and back pack it to the new camp: Camp stove, fuel, lantern, frying pan, water pan, cups, wooden spoons, more water, more bedding, clothes, books, batteries, flashlights, car battery, solar cells, power inverter. Basically as much equipment as I would want for a comfortable camp would be unloaded in numerous trips, most of it done at night when it's cool. I'd bring more water with me to stash at the camp with each trip.

    • After the camp is assembled, I'd get a friend to drop me off at the dirt road with my backpack and as much water as I could carry. That way the vehicle could be driven back to civilization to leave me there without any sign that someone's in the area.

    • Arrange a date and general time when the friend would visit the dirt road again a month later, agreeing on a radio frequency to call on. At the same time acquire more books, canned food, perhaps, and other stuff that might have been thought of during the last month. If all is well, arrange for the friend to visit only once every 4 months or so.

    • If a friend can't be found, hiding the vehicle would have to be done. Some care would need to be taken about the health of the vehicle since the desert can reach 120 degrees and some of the metal on the vehicle can get much hotter than that.
The result would be a camp that has a tarp for a cover, a tarp for a floor, possibly tarps for walls, all tight and roped up with rocks and poles, with a 12-volt lamp being driven by a car battery that's charged by a solar panel through a power inverter.

Books and a laptop computer would be provided for entertainment and perhaps the mood to write a book of my own would strike. I would expect boredom to be as big a problem as food, water, and shade so more thinking about creative ways to remain occupied would have to be done.

Very likely after a couple of weeks it would be discovered what was forgotten and what's needed to make living in the area possible. Hiking at night into Baker, California, every other month or so to draw money out of the bank, purchase canned goods, and visit the local Taco Bell would be possible however if anyone was looking for someone doing so, that points an arrow straight at them.

South Western Arizona Virgin River Gorge

A better place to hide out and set up a long-term living camp far from any human being would be within the Virgin River Gorge. During a drive from Utah to California along the 70 and then the 15 highway, one passes through the Virgin River Gorge carved by the Virgin River. On a topo map the rough longitude and lattitude coordinates would be somewhere around:

North 36 degrees 57.725
West 113 degrees 45.659
Approximately 2394 feet

The gorge itself is long and wide, consisting of a seemingly endless series of canyons, ravines, cliffs, and spires, most of which is impossible to get to on foot. Highway 15 passes right through the gorge and follows the Virgin River for some distance before the hills disappear and the desert opens up to the West toward Valley of Fire and the Moapa Piute Indian Reservation lands.

A great deal of fresh water is available in these canyons all year around though most of the waterways are muddy. Fresh, clear water is found in fairly straight runs of the Virgin River and in standing, deeper plunge pools created when the river's course changed slightly over the years.

Hiking and camping among this gorge is difficult, to understate the case. Sheer cliff walls one or two hundred feet high create box canyons and box ravines and together with sharp shards of rock and soft but lose sandy rock, the gorge's innermost secret areas are very difficult to get in and out of and getting lost is easy.

Five years ago I was visiting the Valley of Fire where far to the South along a dirt road behind the Piute fireworks and casino there's a good water spring that's rarely visited by wheeled vehicle. Being in the general area I drove East into the Virgin River Gorge and parked some distance from the GPS coordinates offered above.

With a backpack containing food, water, matches, bedding, compass, camera, GPS unit, USGS aircraft photographs of the gorge, and other equipment I parked my vehicle along a turn out on the highway and hiked into the gorge.

After walking in for about two hours I set up camp, ate something, got out my book, and read until it got too dark to read, then I set out my sleeping bag and laid down on it (it was about 80 degrees at midnight there.)

Around an hour after dark I heard someone pounding metal on rock and I stood up thinking someone was pounding on the highway some distance away, at first, yet walking a little around my camp I placed the pounding toward the South West. After about 5 minutes of the noise it stopped and all that could be heard was the crickets and frogs some distance in the river and the far-away drone of the big rigs using engine breaking on the highway 15 decline.

In the morning I went looking for the source of the noise and I found a desert hermit living along the Virgin River in among trees, some of which he had relocated himself some years ago. The old guy had a large camp and a motorcycle. I took a GPS reading, returned to my car, and moved it to the West side of the highway, then returned to camp with the guy for the rest of the day, that night, and then left early the next morning.

This month -- just a week ago -- I found that the guy had left, gone to live with his daughter whose husband had died but his story is relevant to this section of this piece. Some of the relevant aspects of his squatters camp:

  • Rope and pully was used to move the motorcycle in and out of the gorge to the highway at night. The nearest town is some 10 miles or less away though the canned goods there tend to be very expensive compared to the next large city, Las Vegas.

  • His daughter knew where he lived -- and didn't approve. But she helped. A crushed tin can was placed under a rock behind a mile marker on the highway and inside the can the man living there was able to convey notes to his daughter back and forth. (Neither knew they could acquire 2-meter HAM radios without a license.)

  • On occasion the daughter would hike in to camp with her father until she decided she got too out of shape. She would bring him books and magazines which the old guy would burn after reading, and would bring clothes or other things he asked for. She would also bring endless nagging and complaints asking him to move in with her in her appartment in Las Vegas.

  • The old man shaved every day and bathed in the river every day -- or more than once a day during the summer.

  • The guy hated the U. S. government, taxes, and "those bastards," whoever they were.

  • His bank account had monthly Social Security deposits made of less than some $2000 Dollars however his expenses were such that he'd been accumulating money for all the years he'd been living in the desert. His only real expense was food, gasoline, and telephone calls into Las Vegas.

  • The guy was sharp -- well educated, extremely bright, likeable, friendly, witty, and could tell a thousand jokes. He remembered the Great Depression, laughed at "those fools in their fancy cars with the windows rolled up" on the highway, and absolutely despised and felt pity for the people "spending their lives in their fancy cars stuck in city traffic."

  • He hadn't read any Edward Abbey but had read everything Sam Clemens had ever written. Liked Snoopy comics, disliked every other comic he could think of.

  • Burnable trash was burned at night in small chunks. Trash that couldn't be burned -- cans and such -- were smashed flat with rocks and added to a hole dug for the purpose, a comfortable distance away from the actual camp.

  • Shade was created by using existing bush and trees, and by the relocating of bush and trees which were then watered. The camp itself was a low-hung series of tarps just tall enough to stand up in with a tarp on the ground, nailed down into fairly hard sandstone, with blankets covering it.

  • No lighting was used for dark nights other than small camp fires that couldn't be seen either directly or through reflected light. The guy started out with candles the first year, flashlights for a couple of years, and then decided moonlight and starlight together with the campfire was enough.

Some Other Areas

Two other areas spring instantly to mind when it comes to long-term squatting near water. Ceder City, Utah has a muddy river going through it, bounded by a shallow canyon with a bike trail along one side and a busy highway on the other. I've found a person camping there long-term once and it looked fairly comfortable.

The other location is along the San Gabriel River above Azusa, California, along Highway 39. Camping there long term is fairly dangerous due to the large number of illegal Mexicans and the large number of gun nuts that frequent the area, shooting into the hills at night without a care in the world that somebody might be camping or living in the canyons.

In summation of this section, people on the run, in hiding, or otherwise wishing to step out of mainstream society can do so safely, in health, and without risk to one's sanity though it seems to me that to do so some contact -- if not support -- with others still living in society is needed.

There are secret, hidden places in America's South West among the deserts, mesas, mountains, and forests where people can hermit themselves, with or without the aid and support of others. But to do so required planning, creativity, and foresight -- as well as a willingness to pack up and relocate if a site that's selected turns out to be inappropriate after awhile.

Incidentally, the U. S. Forest Service generally allows for campers to remain at a site for 14 days after which their rules dictate that the camper must leave. What constitutes leaving will depend upon the individual Ranger who discovers a camper. Some will allow that moving a mile from one's camp constitutes leaving at which time the 14 day limit begins again. Other Rangers will demand that the camper leave a particular geographical area after 14 days.

So being discovered squatting can cause problems beyond any warrants that may be pending for your arrest. Being able to show a bank account might save you from being arrested and detained as a vagrant yet I believe that how you look -- your appearances -- when you're discovered (if ever) would dictate what happens to you (if anything.)

That goes for what your camp looks like: If your camp looks like you've been there for a long time and looks like you intend to be there a long time, any Ranger discovering you squatting will have a different opinion on what to do with you than if your camp looked like you just got there. If discovered you could claim you've been there for three days and plan to "return back to work after my vacation is over in four days" and perhaps you'll be believed. That could keep you out of the vagrant hatch long enough to relocate.

Then again it's anybody's question on whether you'll be asked to show identification and whether you'll be checked for wants and warrants. My experience when encountering Rangers and other authority types in the South West is that they'll make sure you have enough water, that you know where you are, that you have a hat on, and that you aren't committing suicide in stupid, irresponsible ways, they'll ask you to be careful out here and to on their way. Squatters who look like they've been camping for a long time may get run into the local police station so I'd suggest you keep your camp looking new and have a good story to tell about calling a friend to come pick you up in a few days -- and make sure the name and telephone of your friend is valid even if said friend isn't aware that you're squatting.

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Section 12: Fright Hopping -- Riding the Rails

Fright hopping isn't safe and unless you're in fairly good shape I wouldn't recommend it... And even if you are in fairly good shape, I wouldn't recommend it unless there's a very real and pressing need to get out of an area fairly quickly.

If law enforcement is after you and they know you're in an area, of course, then they'll likely have all fright trains and passenger trains monitored and scanned however there are lots of places to hide on fright trains, most of them quite dangerous.

There's a great deal of information available on the Internet about how to safely hop freight trains and you should check them out with the URL links offered below in this section. But this section will offer a fairly brief summation of what you need to do to hop frieght trains as an emergency means of escape.

Endless Safety Hazards When Freight Hopping

The dangers are considerable and you would have to decide what's acceptable to you and what's too dangerous. If you can't hitch hike and need to leave an area without being seen, you may feel that the dangers of fright hopping are acceptable.

What You Should Bring When Freight Hopping

Since this piece is about disappearing from America's view and -- with any luck -- reappearing somewhere else to restart a normal life in some other place, it may be that you'll want to travel with as many worldly possessions as you can carry. This isn't a good idea and for reasons that were described at the beginning of this piece.

But to safely and comfortably use freight trains, there's probably a minimum amount of things you should brig with you:

  • Wear dark clothing to make it difficult for yard Bulls and police as well as for average citizens to spot you. Your backpack or knapsack should likewise be fairly dark. Since you may be using your sleeping bag to keep warm when exposed on a moving car, your sleeping bag should also be fairly dark.

  • Your backpack or knapsack shouldn't be too heavy since you'll be throwing it around a lot. You shouldn't have any breakables in your pack since anything breakable will almost certainly break. You might practice hauling your pack around, throwing it up onto dressers to get an idea on how heavy or difficult it will be to manage.

  • Additional warm clothing is a must to avoid freezing to death or spending wakeless days unable to sleep because it's so cold. Unless you can get out of the wind, layers of clothing is the only thing that'll keep you from freezing. Locos traveling 50 or 60 miles an hour can cause the wind to suck every bit of heat out of you and if you're reasonably healthy when the locomotive stops, it could be that you'll be caught simply because you couldn't get up and run away.

  • Gloves, boots, hat, sunscreen. Clutching moving iron can remove a lot of skin from your hands. Being dragged along the ground as you scramble up the side of a moving car can remove a lot of toes. Sun beating down on an exposed perch for relentless hours can burn you without a hat -- not to mention make you irritable, crazy, and stupid. Cover your nose, neck, ears, forhead, and whatever other parts of skin you might expose to prolonged durations of sunlight, perferably before you get on and get moving unless you can smear stuff on safely on the move.

  • Maps of the area which show rail lines, an atlas, topo maps, time tables, and maybe even a hand-held GPS unit might all be good to bring with you -- if you have the time to gather them. It's always best to know where the train you hopped is going though if you've hopped a train to anywhere, it's assumed you consider anyplace to be perferable to where you are. But the objective is to not get caught and to be healthy once you're safe, and knowing where you're going and how long it might take to get there are things you should try to find out.

  • Water and some amount of food; whatever you can safely and comfortably carry. You'll dehydrate when exposed to the wind faster than you will if you're not exposed. Alcohol will make you dehydrate even faster so always bring water, never alcohol. Additionally alcohol can be smelled by dogs hunting you.

  • Something to read. You'll be waiting for trains, waiting for information, waiting to get into the next town, and generally spending a lot of time doing nothing. A radio will also help pass the time and could give you news you could use.

That would be probably a minimum of the stuff you would need to take when hopping a freight train. Information about where trains are going is something you can get from workers in rail yards since they'll usually assist you -- everyone except the Bulls whose job it is to keep you out. Rail workers who are paid minimum wage and may not speak the language are often willing to help inform you about which direction a train is going.

The Types of Cars To Hop

Some cars are more dangerous than others. There are lists of cars in the order of preference available all over the Internet yet for now, here's what's been suggested in a preliminary scan of such texts:

  • Open box cars
  • Rear platform of a grain hauler
  • Between the wheels of a biggyback trailor hauler
  • In the well behind cargo containers
  • Second or third level of empty car carriers
  • Empty gondolas.

There are many reasons why you should avoid parking inside of grain or gravel haulers, and avoid parking inside full cargo containers but the primary danger is that of shifting cargo. You can be burried by gravel, crushed by crates, crushed by moving cars that weren't tied down well, and get crushed by damn near everything.

But as mentioned above, open box cars are getting rare. If you're planning on hopping a freight train, find a place to hide where you won't be seen and watch a number of trains go by and see what kinds of cars there are to get a feel for what kind of transport you can expect.

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Section 13: Dropping off the Grid: Peace Corps, Others

From time to time I get people emailing me asking about religious organizations, International organizations, or other ways to drop out of the "Rat Race" and my response has always been that to drop off the grid successfully, one must have large amounts of money or be willing to live in abject poverty and hunger.

But there are a few other alternatives to be considered:

From what I've been reading and from the emails of people who have dropped off the grid from time to time, there are ways to drop out of the rat race, and the three suggested methods described above have been shown to me to be viable.

But there are some primary aspects of one's behavior and attitude that one must meet before dropping out and disappearing into some work enclaive like these:

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Section 14: Montana Supreme Court Notes Ability to Track Everyone

Justice James C. Nelson was asked to rule a case where a suspect's trash that had been discarded. The contention was whether the evidence contained within someone's trash can be used against them in a court of law. While Justice Nelson affirmed, he felt compelled to express the growing realm of trackability and loss of freedom, issues that are covered in this document.

This is a fitting Opinion for inclusion in the Vanishing Point document since the ability to locate wanted individuals by their purchasing habits is always just around the corner, lacking only the motivation to instigate such measures. The technology is already there with -- as the Justice notes -- "discount cards" that are used by so many people to purchase their foods and other goods.

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/08/322625.shtml

Justice James C. Nelson concurs.

I have signed our Opinion because we have correctly applied existing legal theory and constitutional jurisprudence to resolve this case on its facts.

I feel the pain of conflict, however. I fear that, eventually, we are all going to become collateral damage in the war on drugs, or terrorism, or whatever war is in vogue at the moment. I retain an abiding concern that our Declaration of Rights not be killed by friendly fire. And, in this day and age, the courts are the last, if not only, bulwark to prevent that from happening.

In truth, though, we are a throw-away society. My garbage can contains the remains of what I eat and drink. It may contain discarded credit card receipts along with yesterday's newspaper and junk mail. It might hold some personal letters, bills, receipts, vouchers, medical records, photographs and stuff that is imprinted with the multitude of assigned numbers that allow me access to the global economy and vice versa.

My garbage can contains my DNA.

As our Opinion states, what we voluntarily throw away, what we discard--i.e., what we abandon--is fair game for roving animals, scavengers, busybodies, crooks and for those seeking evidence of criminal enterprise.

Yet, as I expect with most people, when I take the day's trash (neatly packaged in opaque plastic bags) to the garbage can each night, I give little consideration to what I am throwing away and less thought, still, to what might become of my refuse. I don't necessarily envision that someone or something is going to paw through it looking for a morsel of food, a discarded treasure, a stealable part of my identity or a piece of evidence. But, I've seen that happen enough times to understand--though not graciously accept--that there is nothing sacred in whatever privacy interest I think I have retained in my trash once it leaves my control--the Fourth Amendment and Article II, Sections 10 and 11, notwithstanding.

Like it or not, I live in a society that accepts virtual strip searches at airports; surveillance cameras; "discount" cards that record my buying habits; bar codes; "cookies" and spywear on my computer; on-line access to satellite technology that can image my back yard; and microchip radio frequency identification devices already implanted in the family dog and soon to be integrated into my groceries, my credit cards, my cash and my new underwear.

I know that the notes from the visit to my doctor's office may be transcribed in some overseas country under an out-sourcing contract by a person who couldn't care less about my privacy. I know that there are all sorts of businesses that have records of what medications I take and why. I know that information taken from my blood sample may wind up in databases and be put to uses that the boilerplate on the sheaf of papers I sign to get medical treatment doesn't even begin to disclose. I know that my insurance companies and employer know more about me than does my mother. I know that many aspects of my life are available on the Internet. Even a black box in my car--or event data recorder as they are called--is ready and willing to spill the beans on my driving habits, if I have an event--and I really trusted that car, too.

And, I also know that my most unwelcome and paternalistic relative, Uncle Sam, is with me from womb to tomb. Fueled by the paranoia of "ists" and "isms," Sam has the capability of spying on everything and everybody--and no doubt is. But, as Sam says: "It's for my own good."

In short, I know that my personal information is recorded in databases, servers, hard drives and file cabinets all over the world. I know that these portals to the most intimate details of my life are restricted only by the degree of sophistication and goodwill or malevolence of the person, institution, corporation or government that wants access to my data.

I also know that much of my life can be reconstructed from the contents of my garbage can.

I don't like living in Orwell's 1984; but I do. And, absent the next extinction event or civil libertarians taking charge of the government (the former being more likely than the latter), the best we can do is try to keep Sam and the sub-Sams on a short leash.

As our Opinion states, search and seizure jurisprudence is centered around privacy expectations and reasonableness considerations. That is true even under the extended protections afforded by Montana's Constitution, Article II, Sections 10. and 11. We have ruled within those parameters. And, as is often the case, we have had to draw a fine line in a gray area. Justice Cotter and those who have signed the Opinion worked hard at defining that line; and I am satisfied we've drawn it correctly on the facts of this case and under the conventional law of abandonment.

That said, if this Opinion is used to justify a sweep of the trash cans of a neighborhood or community; or if a trash dive for Sudafed boxes and matchbooks results in DNA or fingerprints being added to a forensic database or results in personal or business records, credit card receipts, personal correspondence or other property being archived for some future use unrelated to the case at hand, then, absent a search warrant, I may well reconsider my legal position and approach to these sorts of cases--even if I have to think outside the garbage can to get there.

I concur.
/S/ JAMES C. NELSON

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Section 15: Hanging Out in the Mojave Desert -- How It Was Done

The first video below (which is a YouTube object that will play if you click on it and wait a while) is a description of how Desertphile spent 22 months in the Mojave Desert -- California and Nevada. Various things to be aware of when squatting in the desert is offered as is some good commentary on water and the people one might meet out there. The second video shows how a solar oven was made and how it's used.

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Section 16: Some good comments offered by readers

Over the years many emails have come in to The Skeptic Tank commenting upon things within this document, many people offering suggested additions, changes, and sections that should be removed. One individual -- CP is his initials; I didn't get permission to use his name -- offered most of the suggested comments which are provided in this section.

This is a living document -- the web page has been viewed by millions of people, according to the web site statistics engine on the web site's server, and this web page remains the single most read web page on all of Skeptic Tank since the enactment of the "USA PTRIOT Act" -- and there are over half a million pages on The Skeptic Tank so that says a bit about this page -- as well as a growing desire to escape the ever growing fascism in the United States.

Point of correction and commentary. This section will be added as more and more comments are received through email. Some of the suggestions have been so good that I have copied them from my inbound email mail box word for word.


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Section 17: Public Camps and National Forest Squatting

In the Angeles National Forest there are private camps which exist upon leased property, leased from the United States Forest Service or "grandfatheredt" in to otherwise National public lands as private holdings. One such camp was Camp Follows (see http://www.hikercentral.com/campgrounds/101704.html ) which no longer exists, another such camp is Camp Williams (see http://www.campwilliams.com/ ) which still exists and which classifies itself as a resort.

Such camps as one may find in the United States located in somewhat remote locations (such as Camp Williams is) may offer residential rental plots where a mobile trailer or even a cabin is located that one may rent, just as if it were a normal residential rental located within a city (Camp Williams has a mobile home park with units already on it as well as available slots for parking your own mobile home.)

Due to their remote locations and small populations, such camps can provide an environment within which to hide but they also provide an environment within which to re-establish oneself in society, a less populace place to live where you get to have some measure of control over who sees you, who you interact with. Private camps can be populated by people who disdain the "civilized world" and have what might be considered "alternative" modes of life somewhat removed from what society would consider to be "normal."

There are other advantages about taking up residence in a small camp located otherwise remotely. If you are being sought, strangers who spend a great deal of time in the region are generally noticed, and anyone who talks with residents about you or someone close to your description will be talked about and it's possible that you will learn of the interest being expressed by said strangers.

The down side to adopting residence in private camps like this is that they do cost money, the amount of which depends upon whether or not the area is favorable and accessible to wealthy people who aren't trying to disappear in America. In addition to either purchasing the mobile home on existing property, there is also the usual monthly rental fees for parking your mobile home on the property, and of course there's the utility bill fees that camps may also require you to pay, either metered individually else collectively as part of the plot rental.

Private camps may be sold or they may be otherwise closed and returned to either a State or Federal holding which means that residence in such camps may not be entirely secure. Camp Follows in the Angeles National Forest was sold to a foreign company and in the year 2006 the last of the residents were evicted, putting many people out on the streets (many of whom were then homeless and living out of their cars, prompting an abandoned cat crisis, see http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/02/147322.php ) for a write-up and photographs of the cat rescue effort.)

When examining a private camp which provides residential housing, you should spend as much time as possible looking the place over, doing feet-on-the-ground research to see whether the camp provides both anonymity and well as an environment for disappearing and, if it is your goal, resurfacing under a new identity.

Note: Doing research on line leaves hints about what you were researching embedded in your web browser disk cache as well as web site log records which can be used to track you down. Feet-on-the-ground research in to a possible camp to disappear to eliminates the electronic trail. Alternatively, deliberately researching hundreds of camps across the United States and pretending to give a dozen or so such camps more focus and return web site visits might conceivably help to throw off the trail to the actual camp you go to.

What about squatting in a State or Federal park or forest?

As mentioned previously, the typical maximum duration stay for visitors to public lands is either one, two, or three weeks, after which the individual is expected to relocate a minimum set distance from the previous camp site, often 50 miles at minimum.

A great many public lands have illegal squatters on them, and law enforcement periodically performs sweeps and evicts such people, often after running them for wants and warrants and searching them and their possessions for contraband. In the Angeles National Forest a hideously filthy pollution problem developed as illegal gold miners squatted along the East Fork Road section of the San Gabriel River, many of them living there for years, many of them under the belief that they could do so after "staking claims" on public land.

There are no legal avenues for people to squat on public property in a National Forest. There are also no legal avenues for people to stake mining claims on public lands in a National Forest. There exist lawful mining of public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management however one can't carve out a section of public property, proclaim it belongs to them, and then proceed to live on the public property.

This is important to underscore for two reasons: First off, numerous web sites will tell you that mining on public lands is legal when in fact it may or may not be depending upon the region. Even places where a government agency sells you a mining permit actual mining in that region may be prohibited. If mining is permitted, suction dredging may be prohibited, and in any event living on the property in tents longer than the maximum permissible period of time is always prohibited.

Secondly, living in an illegal mining camp isn't conducive to either disappearing or to rebuilding a normal or even quasi-normal life. In addition to the periodic narcotics and illegal alien sweeps, a narcotics-heavy existence along a crowded river or stream living in a tent isn't a fun or comfortable life, it's just marking time before you die, it's not disappearing with the goal of resurfacing fresh with a new identity elsewhere.

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Section 18: Internet Research Before You Disappear

An Additional Review of Internet Research Before You Disappear

Most people are now aware that every time they visit a web site, send or receive an email, or do anything else online, an electric record of their activity is made and such information is easily retrieved by law enforcement agencies, often without a subpoena, court order, or warrant.

When you do research online prior to attempting to disappear, you leave behind records which can be used to not only track you down but to indict you if you're doing research prior to or after the commission of a crime.

In the year 2007, a homicide detective in State other than California contacted The Skeptic Tank by starting from my identity taken from the public domain skeptictank.org registry records which lead the detective to the city I live in where-after he contacted the local Police Department which came to my residence and handed me a business card for the detective asking me to return his call.

When I received the business card and returned the call, I learned that this Vanishing Point web page is used by people who either commit murder else who plan to commit murder, reviewing the web page at times placing it to paper as part of their online homework in to such things as how to remove people's heads and other identifying body parts and research in to how deep various lakes are in the prospective murderer's region are.

The detective called to ask whether Vanishing Point had been updated since a particular date that he gave me, then he informed me that a man and his lover had murdered the lover's husband, and one of the many web pages he and the woman had visited was Vanishing Point.

I told the detective that I considered some of the information provided here to be unworkable and I asked him his opinion about the feasibility of any of this information being useful.

He told me that the focus of the web page is not about committing crimes and attempting to avoid prosecution but rather about dropping out and rebuilding one's life for wholly legitimate reasons, and as such he said he found the information useful and informative, not an impediment to legitimate law enforcement efforts. His opinion, like mine, is mixed.

The point about this section is that there should be no expectation that any of the research that people do on line is private. Even erasing your hard disk drive's web browser's cache, even running wipe software to fill erased disk sectors with zeros, even doing your best to eradicate records that you have control over isn't sufficient to erase all tracks, your Internet Service Provider, your cable company, your email host, the web site servers that you visit, every router, bridge, or hub that retains records may contain traces of your research activities, all of which are easily obtained by law enforcement or by private investigators who commit crimes by colluding with police to illegally seize such records.

Note: Anonymity proxy servers and other online services that seek to obscure your identity while on line do not provide enough security for hiding your identity and eliminating traceable electronic records. For some measure of on line security, you might research the Tor network (see http://www.torproject.org/ )

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Section 19: Gold Mining as a Means to Disappearing

One of the more difficult things you can do to establish yourself in a new identity and make an honest living while remaining invisible to society at large is to become a miner, either for gold or other metals and minerals such as silver, gypsum, and talc.

Mining in the American Southwest is very difficult, subject to Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service rules and regulations, and may result in slow starvation, heat stroke, and other medical problems given the harsh conditions one can expect working long hours in an open and exposed environment where the pay-off yield in precious metals and minerals may be very low.

Where to mine

Overwhelmingly the number 1, most definitive, most trusted source of information on where you can expect to find gold and other precious materials that you can mine is found at the Free Gold Maps web site. This web site is the definitive source of information which is currently maintained by one of the world's most famous desert hermits and adventure explorers, the living legend named Desertphile. If you consider disappearing in America and sustaining yourself through mining, checking out that web site and researching there is absolutely required.

For a brief review of the Desertphile gold maps information, you should first check the brief video, "Gold Is Where Others Have Found It." which can be viewed here:

Illegal Mining

If you research areas where others have found gold and where mines have been abandoned which will still harbor gold that you may find useful, you may come across mines and regions which still have gold but are illegal to mine, even if they have been mined previously.

The Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service may ban mining in regions where there has been considerable ecological damage due to previous mining and efforts to restore the region's flora and fauna are underway. Agencies may ban mining in regions where mining was performed previously for any number of reasons, so you can not count upon locating abandoned claims and resume working the mines or the tailings left behind.

The goal of disappearing in America and rebuilding a new life includes refraining from drawing undue law enforcement attention to yourself. This means that you will want to avoid working claims which are in "withdrawn" locations where mining has always been illegal and in locations where mining has become illegal.

San Gabriel Mountains / Angeles National Forest / East Fork

You may see a great many videos on YouTube and may read a great many on-line articles about gold mining in the San Gabriel Mountains within the Angeles National Forest along East Fork which follows the San Gabriel River. It is true that a great deal of mining has taken place there and mining continues to take place there however it has been illegal to mine East Fork since the mid 1960s.

Federal and State law enforcement agents periodically raid, arrest, and remove illegal miners and squatters along East Fork and in other areas of the Angeles National Forest because it is illegal however the law enforcement agencies of the region lack enough manpower and other resources to remove illegal miners constantly. They raid and remove illegal miners when water quality or violence or other problems result and they have the resources to remove them.

Day panning using gold pans and hand shovels are permitted since that is "prospecting" which remains legal, however using dredges, sluice boxes, shovels, digging deep holes, mechanized equipment and such is totally illegal in the Angeles National Forest.

Please do not email me demanding that mining in the Angeles National Forest is legal. I continue to get email from people who think it is because they see other people doing it, or because they hear stories that the Forest Service has told someone that mining is permitted. It is not, and I am tired of hearing from people who have not done their homework on the issue and have not contacted the U. S. Forest Service personally to find out.

How To Mine

Any previous claim that you may try to work will have been picked over and worked, reworked, and reworked again by people who have come before you, so extracting what gold may be left behind will probably result in small yields yet may be enough to sustain you given the prices one can expect from previous metals today.

If you have the resources to purchase mining equipment, you need to determine whether there is water in the area or whether you will be dry mining. You need to determine how best to extract gold or silver or other materials from as large a volume of raw materials as you can in as short a time frame as possible, perhaps concentrating the payload dirt in to a small volume so that you can refine your precious materials extraction.

One company that provides quality equipment is Keene Engineering which sells "Dry Washers". These are machines that are either cranked by hand or have a motor which is run by a car battery. You shovel your dirt and rock on to a slide plate above the device and a carpeted washboard is giggled which collects the higher gravity, denser materials from the raw materials concentrates it in the folds of the washboard.

After putting many hundreds of pounds of material through such Dry Washers, one then stops shoveling and allows the excess materials to work off of the wash board, then the carpeting material is carefully lifted off of the device (usually after unbolting) and the concentrated materials is dumped in to buckets.

Usually the machine is reassembled and more raw materials are put through the machine, the process continuing until all buckets are filled with concentrated fill which hopefully contains much gold.

At the end of the day after digging stops, the contents of the buckets is either panned next to a water source and the gold is retrieved and placed in to glass jars, or if water is lacking tweezers is used to sort through the contents of the buckets piece by piece.

What Gold / Silver / Copper Looks Like

If you are mining for a material and do not know what it looks like in all of its forms, you are wasting your time and very likely throwing out and discarding valuable materials.

A great deal of the gold that illegal miners sift through in the San Gabriel Mountains is not recognized as being gold by the illegal miners, so much so that the majority of gold that pass through their pans and illegal sluice boxes is discarded. Being uninformed about what physical appearances gold takes means that the illegal miners are only keeping the bright, shiny, golden metal which is only a fraction of the gold that actually passes through their hands.

So you need to research what things look like in the field, you need to research everything you can about what you expect to find so that you can recognize it when you do find it.

Requirements For Mining

There are going to be requirements for filing a claim so that you can legally work a mine, among them being providing the agency responsible for filing your claim needing your identification, residence, and other information. This can be problematic, and even creating a corporate fake front to hide behind will need to eventually wind down to identifying actual humans.

It is conceivable that you can provide faulty identification in your paperwork however that is almost certainly illegal, and one of the goals of disappearing in America is to eliminate any cause or reason for law enforcement or other entities to look you over closely.

On the other hand you can encorporate, have a third party file the claim on your behalf such as an attorney or other proxy which is legal since your attorney may be authorized to provide a layer of administrative assistance between you and local, State, or Federal entities which removes from you the burden of dealing directly with incompetent fuckwits.

Exchanging Goods

Of course once you have gold, silver, or copper it will be of differing percentages of purity, and finding companies who are willing to exchange paper money for your previous materials will result in a spectrum of dollar values per ounce of material you bring them. You will not get the Wall Street dollar value so you should not expect that much. Your material is only a certain, as-yet-unknown percentage of pure material so until your material has been assayed and its trade value considered, you may not know how much your final mine product is worth.

Chances are that there is a "mining community" of people in the region who may not like you joining in the mining of the area. If other miners are not hostile you could talk to them about where to market the precious metals you extract. Chances are that small grocery stores and mining equipment stores may accept mined gold or silver in exchange for foods and equipment, you must research how best to utilize whatever precious materials you extract.


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