My boyfriend and I were rescued from a survival situation today when a simple little kayaking trip went very wrong. We almost died but as soon as my yak flipped I heard you saying "survival is mostly psychological." Because of your show we were able to keep our heads and keep ourselves alive long enough to get rescued.
There were a number of parallels between what we experienced and what I've seen on your show. We were separated at first and I also remembered you saying in one episode that when you're surviving with someone else the most important thing is to stick together, so that was priority number one. Once we were together my boyfriend was spazzing. He even wanted to take his life jacket off while we were 10-15 feet apart because we had hoodied on under the jackets, and once they got wet they were weighing us down but I kept screaming don't take your vest off! I kept telling him to keep swimming because I remembered you saying that if you have a boat keep with it at all costs because it's a lifeline. I had my yak but I was too cold and numb to get back on it so I was clinging to it. My boyfriend didn't have his yak so I kept screaming for him to keep swimming toward me. He said "I can't," and I heard Ruth in my head saying "When you're in a survival situation you can't ever give up," so I just kept screaming to him "Don't give up, don't give up!" After 30 minutes of swimming together, we managed to get to a rock sticking up out of the water and I remembered when you were on the Colorado River as soon as you both got out of the water you stripped off your wet clothing, so as soon as we were out of the water I told him to get his hoodie and shirt off and I took mine off also. My legs were dark purple by then, so I started trying to rub and shake them to get them warm. As boats passed us I remembered you saying in a different episode that waving both arms over your head is the universal signal for "I need help," so I broke my paddle down into two pieces and started to wave them both over my head like I've seen you both do. I even bought red kayaks last year because on one of your shows you said red is a color that doesn't often occur in nature and is the ideal color for signaling. We were able to see my boyfriend's overturned red yak over a mile away so after we were rescued, the boat that rescued us was even able to pick up all of our gear for us. We didn't end up needing it, but we also had something else that I've heard you say a million times ... a Zippo lighter in a sealed dry box (and a small first aid kit, both clipped to my kayak with carabiners so we didn't lose either when my yak flipped).
No less than three boats passed us while we were in the water and two or three more once we were on the rock ... probably because they couldn't see or hear us with the wind and the sounds of their own boat engines. So I can attest to when Ruth said it can be so disappointing to see someone that could help you but know that they don't see you and have to watch them pass right by. And just as the guy who saw your wrecked inflatable kayak on the Colorado and knew that there might be someone stranded up river, the boat that rescued us found my boyfriend's paddle and our lunch cooler floating in the water and realized that there was probably someone stranded somewhere so they started looking for us.
You were both with me there, in my head, telling me what to do through each step of the situation. Things could have gone very differently yesterday were I not such an avid fan of your show.
We both wanted to thank you and Ruth from the bottoms of our hearts. Seriously, I can't put my gratitude in words. You're both heroes in many ways and you can add one more way today. Thank you from both of us.