My name is Tavish Wallace. It's April 10, 2027. The end of the world. Governments are trying to hold as much power as they possibly can until their imminent demise. Military forces are stronger than ever, eliminating their enemies with an iron fist. At least, that's what they'd have you believe. Behind that facade, however, anarchy rules. Shops are being raided, murders happen every day, fire is everywhere.

And We're running from it all.

It's just me, my elderly parents, my wife, and my son.

Everybody is after us. Bounty hunters, the army, even my old neighbors tried to kill me. But I don't care, they haven't caught me yet. They'll all be dead by tomorrow.

I'm meeting another group who's on the run up on the mountains. We're travelling together with them from there to find a safe spot to hide until everybody else dies off.

It's 10 years in the future. We're searching the Appalachians for a structurally safe place to hide 13 people until the end of the world. There isn't anybody around for miles. Where do we go?

Also, It would probably be helpful to know what the party is carrying, and what trades the different party members have:

My father is an electrical engineer and my mother is a seamstress, along with Jared Hale and Austin Carr, who are travelling with us. Michael Thorpe, also travelling, Is a metalworker. His wife Angela is a botanist. I am a carpenter. Besides these, we have have 2 mothers, and 3 children. In all, the entire party Has 1 .50 Caliber Rifle (with a scope), 2 Glock 18s, and one Smith and Wesson 460V. We have 2 Medical kits (with antibiotics), and 673 servings of canned food.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you should specify further what kind of shelter you have in mind, and how you would define 'structurally safe'. $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Apr 28, 2017 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ Something that woudn't collapse from wear and tear $\endgroup$
    – Plug
    Apr 28, 2017 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ Knowing how the world is going to end will have a huge impact on what is a "safe" place to hide. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Apr 28, 2017 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe this should give you an idea of how it will end: "-'cause at the end of the day, long as there's two people left on the planet, someone is gonna want someone dead." -Sniper, Team Fortress 2 $\endgroup$
    – Plug
    Apr 28, 2017 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ In case you do not know this, The Appalachians are the last remnant of the Wall that ringed Pangaea - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangaea I do not know of any area along the Appalachians that is unstable $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2017 at 15:39

4 Answers 4


Personally, as someone who lives in the area, I'd find a hill/ridge. Away from trails/powerlines/sparce tree cover, and preferably near a stream (DON'T DRINK DOWNSTREAM FROM A BEAVER POND) and build a [I forget the name of it], you stick branches into the ground, then weave smaller branches in between them, you make two layers of "walls" this way, then fill the space between with leaves. Or in a pinch make one of these. If you can salvage a tarp, line the ceiling/floor with these to keep out water. Build it up against a craggy rock (those hills are filled with them) and heap leaves over/against it to conceal it. Climbing the ridge will allow you to see potential approachers (via wood-smoke, trails, or flying contraptions), but building on the side of it means you won't be silhouetted.

This is more efficient than seeking out a pre-existing shelter (avoiding random encounters and people [probably locals] who got there first), and you won't be utterly devastated if you need to bug out and re-locate.

While this likely isn't as interesting as a "forgotten" bunker (yes there are some of those up in the hills), you'll be more likely to survive.

Alternatively, there are a few former-industrial/farming towns among the foothills. There are buildings that were abandoned hundreds of years ago and rotted away, leaving behind their basements and wells surrounded by miles of forests. These square ditches are commonly found in twos and threes. It wouldn't be too difficult to build a layer over a basement and cover it with loam and detritus, but you would be closer to a settlement with a greater chance of discovery.

  • $\begingroup$ Good general ideas, another option would be to dig in, circumstances and locale would determine what is best I suppose. $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    Apr 28, 2017 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ You should really look up the name of the [I forget the name of it]. If you don't have all the information to answer the question, then you should research before you post. -1 $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Apr 28, 2017 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ I did try to find it, but all searches of "fort made of woven branches filled with leaves" and "shelter made of woven branches filled with leaves" all directed me to sites with wigwams and insulated lean-tos, not the specific shelter I was looking for. $\endgroup$
    – G Allis
    Apr 28, 2017 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @GAllis Then I recommend you take that part out of your answer. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Apr 28, 2017 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure the caution about beaver dams is because the Giardia parisite gets into water via beaver feces. Adding an explanation of why to avoid would improve this answer. $\endgroup$
    – Catalyst
    Apr 30, 2017 at 11:41

I'd suggest looking for a long-closed mine whose entrance you can force open covertly and is structurally sound, at least around the entrance (and I'd stay as near the entrance as possible while remaining hidden.) A key bonus would be a mine with usable water that you can get to. Beware bad air (methane) and welcome to the Resistance!

If you are especially brave/desperate, consider mines known and marked as closed due to collapse accidents. Your pursuers (and competition) may be put off by the known risk. You only need to find a small area you can get to (and stock) that's safe, or shore it up if you can scavenge the tools and materials covertly. Be careful to disguise any lumbering as the work of busy beavers; likewise, brush away your footprints, etc.

Note well that mines often had multiple openings (for safety, ventilation, pumping out water, etc.) and the main entrance is probably where hunters would look first. So try to avoid the 'front door' and instead search for an auxiliary entrance and use that instead.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Don't forget to hide signs of your occupation around the entrance to the mine. brush out tracks, etc. Nasty people may have grown up in those woods and might be aware of tracking animals and people. $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Apr 28, 2017 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ This is good. The Appalachians are just crawling with coal mines. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Apr 28, 2017 at 16:30

Caves or Mines would be your best bet, but you may have other options in a pinch. Just remember the following things and you might be ok regardless of where you end up.

1) Water. Know where your water source is. You can last a long time without food, but only a few days without water.

2) Shelter. It means more than a place to hide. You use it for maintaining heat. It can get COLD in the mountains at night. Hypothermia is a real danger. If you can't get in a cave, you can make debris shelters, use rock overhangs, and so on. You can build a debris shelter inside of a cave to help with maintaining heat and be out of sight and out of the rain. Strangely, structural soundness is a secondary consideration until you decide to stay there for more than a night or two.

3) Fire. For the same reason as shelter. You need to maintain heat. You should have plenty of fuel up in the Appalaichan mountains. Here is where it gets tricky. you need to hide the fire and smoke as much as you can. I have seen some interesting stuff regarding rocket stoves for camping and cooking, and a 2 hole method for building a fire in a way that hides the light and smoke fairly well.

4) Food. This is actually the least of your worries at first. Yes you need food, but going without for a few days won't kill you. Deal with water and shelter, then you can start worrying about food acquisition. Hunting is the obvious thing, and you can easily rig snares and deadfall traps. Fishing is an option depending. Don't worry about large game until you get the basics well and truly squared away.

I would say with a little research, anyone can and should build a S.H.T.F. pack or Bug Out Bag. It can be done for less than $100 US for a really fancy one. Heck, a pocket knife, a poncho, a lifestraw, some string, and a mylar emergency blanket gets you most of the way there. This is useful for the end of the world, or a tornado, or a flood, a blizzard, tornado...etc etc.


Not sure what you have in the Appalachians, but in the Adelaide Hills we have some old rail tunnels that have been converted to mushroom farms. They'd be my first port of call if I was looking for somewhere to hide.


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