You may have heard of the survival show Man vs Wild on Discovery, and the man behind the show, Bear Grylls. But you may not have heard of Megan Hine, one of Grylls' survival consultants who has worked with him since 2007, and basically kept him alive.
Megan Hine is an expedition guide and an expert at surviving in hostile conditions in the wild. Her skills include climbing, abseiling, identifying bugs that can be eaten, catching fish with her bare hands, and our personal favourite - starting a fire with a tampon.
Hine has had an extremely eventful and adventurous career. She has woken up in the Namibian desert to find herself, and the TV show contestant she was with, surrounded by lions, when she was armed with only a knife.
“It was the weirdest feeling. I was just watching these creatures and my senses, my muscles, were so tight. I was ready to fight for my life. But it was almost like an out-of-body experience, being able to watch these lions and see how beautiful they were, see their muscles rippling.”
Along with Grylls, she has also eaten boiled fertilised eggs in the wild, as well as worms and maggots, which she thinks taste much better than one would think, and are "quite cheesy." She has come across an opium farm while escorting contestants in Thailand, and subsequently chased by people with AK-47s through the jungle, water channels, and down ridges for four hours.
“Getting my team moving – a couple of them weren’t necessarily very fit – and trying to run away from these people who work in the jungle and know the terrain, that took a lot of mental willpower to keep myself together. I remember afterwards sitting down and thinking, thank fuck. It is those moments where you really learn who you are and how strong you can be. I remember making sure my team were OK, and then having to wander away from them and having an emotional moment to myself.”
Hine grew up in the UK hiking, climbing mountains, and exploring forests. She trained as a raft guide, got a degree in outdoor education, and working as a part-time instructor and mountaineer. Talking about how much more comfortable she feels out in the wilderness instead of in cities, she says, “It’s really only a few 100 years since we were primitive farmers. We’ve come so far, but we haven’t fully evolved to live as we do now – all the modern pressures.”
About the difference between female and male survival experts, she clarifies, “Definitely, I think it brings a different atmosphere, it dials down the testosterone. That doesn’t mean we’re doing lesser tasks – we’re still doing the same stunts, expeditions, climbing the same mountains – but there’s a different vibe to it.”
Hine has adapted to some of the harsh ground realities, because of which she often has to rely on men to deal with other men in different cultural backgrounds. “There is a side of you that wants to prove yourself, but I quickly realised I need to do things as near to their culture as possible. We work closely with local people and some men just aren’t comfortable, whether [because of] their faith or culture, dealing with women in a leadership position. It’s about putting your own ego aside in order to get the job done.”
While Grylls once said that she was stronger than 99 percent of the men he had met, Hine does feel that she might have missed out on some work because she's a woman. “I don’t think ‘sexist’ is the right term for it, I think it’s because [a woman in this role] is unexpected. Maybe in some ways having a woman doing what has always been sold as this extreme, manly, beard-wearing job, undermines the grrr-ness of it all. Maybe it makes them feel less manly.”
Her experiences are fantastic enough to make anyone be in awe of her, but she's up for some more, such as ones like Grylls taking out a camel's intestines and sleeping inside the carcass.
Now that's one badass woman.
H/T - The Guardian