Stone Age survivalist who lives like our ancestors reveals she's caught Lyme Disease from ticks

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A Stone Age expert revealed to Ben Fogle she contracted Lyme Disease from tick bites but is still determined to live like our ancestors in last night’s New Lives in the Wild. 

British-born Lynx Vilden, 56, first met Ben six years ago in Washington, where she was living wild by herself six months out of a year, and teaching people about the Stone Age way of life the rest of the time. 

At the time she was living on a five-acre plot of land she bought with her $165,000 inheritance from her mother, and for last night’s show, Ben revisited Lynx in Norway, where she now lives in a yurt with a stove, running water, electricity and an Internet connection,

She still hopes to teach people how to ‘rewild’ and live like our ancestors, but admitted it has not been plain sailing since her last meeting with Ben, and that she contracted Lyme Disease from hundreds of tick bites in France during a nomadic phase where she hopped from one country to the other. 

She hopes to create her community, called Lithica, where people will leave behind their modern lifestyle to live like in the Stone Age and learn to reconnect with nature. 

Viewers were deeply impressed with Lynx and called her ‘incredible’, saying her story of reconnecting with nature was just the tonic in troubled times. 

Lynx Vilden, 50, who lives like a woman of the Stone Age in the wilderness of Norway, told Ben Fogle on last night's New Lives in the Wild on Channel 5 that she had to adapt her lifestyle and get the internet and running electricity in recent years

Lynx Vilden, 50, who lives like a woman of the Stone Age in the wilderness of Norway, told Ben Fogle on last night’s New Lives in the Wild on Channel 5 that she had to adapt her lifestyle and get the internet and running electricity in recent years

The survivalist told Ben, right, she wants to create a community of'rewilded' people who have left the modern world behind to live like the people of the Stone Age like her

The survivalist told Ben, right, she wants to create a community of ‘rewilded’ people who have left the modern world behind to live like the people of the Stone Age like her 

When Ben first visited six years ago, he’d enjoyed immersing himself in Stone Age living, and was surprised to see Lynx setteld in a yurt, with modern contraptions.  

‘I kind of need it,’ she told him sheepishly, of her computer and internet connection. 

‘I was without electricity all winter, I was here alone and it was very hard so I wanted to have some interaction with people,’ she said, adding the Internet allows her to ‘visit people online’. 

This intrigued Ben, who said: ‘I’m still curious as to what she’s actually doing here. Is this retirement? The place she has come to live forever or another temporary stop on her nomadic journey?’  

British-born Lynx Vilden, 56, first met Ben six years ago in Washington state, where she was living wild by herself six months out of a year, and teaching people about the Stone Age way of Life the rest of the time, on a 5 acres plot of land she bought with $165,000 she inherited from herm mother

British-born Lynx Vilden, 56, first met Ben six years ago in Washington state, where she was living wild by herself six months out of a year, and teaching people about the Stone Age way of Life the rest of the time, on a 5 acres plot of land she bought with $165,000 she inherited from herm mother

But Lynx told him there is a deep part of her that is ‘nomadic’, and that while she’s embraced some aspects of modern life, her heart is set on teaching the Stone Age way of life more than ever.  

‘There is this sense inside me that wants to explore, wants to move,’ she said. 

Before buying the farm in Norway, she lived and taught in different countries, spending years living in caves in France.  

While she found this time travelling amazing, she admitted to Ben she had faced some tough times since she last saw him.  

‘I’m not a plain-sailing kind of person, you’re either in the calm, or the storm,’ she said. 

‘Lyme disease is a bit of a storm,’ she added. 

Ben heard how Lynx contracted Lyme Disease from ticks in France but is still determined to build her community

Ben heard how Lynx contracted Lyme Disease from ticks in France but is still determined to build her community 

The Stone Age expert admitted loneliness and her isolated way of life led her to experience depression and anxiety

The Stone Age expert admitted loneliness and her isolated way of life led her to experience depression and anxiety 

‘I got it via ticks, too many ticks in France, I got a hundred bites a year and finally my body couldn’t keep up with the bacterial loads,’ she explained. 

She added that her isolated life in Norway had also led her to experience ‘a lot of anxiety’ and ‘depression.’ 

However, in spite of these setbacks, Lynx told Ben she is as passionate as ever about creating a community of people set on ‘rewilding.’

She wants to build a community called ‘Lithica’ where people can leave the modern world behind and learn to live like our ancestors.  

‘When you enter Lithica, you have to enter as a Stone Age person,’ Lynx told Ben. 

Lynx told Ben she wants to build her own community and keep teaching the ways of the Stone Age

Lynx told Ben she wants to build her own community and keep teaching the ways of the Stone Age 

WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks.

The most common symptoms of the disease are fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash called erythema migrans.

The disease can typically be treated by several weeks of oral antibiotics.

But if left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart and nervous symptoms and be deadly.  

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE INFECTED?

During the first three to 30 days of infection, these symptoms may occur:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Erythema migrans (EM) rash 

The rash occurs in approximately 80 per cent of infected people.

It can expand to up to 12 inches (30 cm), eventually clearing and giving off the appearance of a target or a ‘bull’s-eye’.

Later symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional rashes
  • Arthritis with joint pain and swelling
  • Facial or Bell’s palsy
  • Heart palpitations
  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Nerve pain 

Source: CDC

She wants to create the community on 500 hectares of land where people will learn the basic skills she’s been teaching around the world, including making fire and using stone tools, before immersing themselves further into Stone Age living.  

‘This idea sparked out of the concept pf modern of people like us being able to rewild and being able to go back into nature and realise how it is that we make impact and how it is that we can be part of nature, be within it and find that true wild self that is within each one of us,’ she told Ben. 

While she doesn’t have the 500 hectares yet, Lynx’s farm is currently located on 30 acres of land where she hopes to trial her idea. 

‘Sometimes you got to start small and then big dreams start out of small things,’ she said. 

Lynx has been running rewilding projects all around the world since 2001 (pictured) and is still running projects today

Lynx has been running rewilding projects all around the world since 2001 (pictured) and is still running projects today 

Like-minded people have travelled from around the world to complete courses with Lynx, right

Like-minded people have travelled from around the world to complete courses with Lynx, right 

Lynx hopes Lithica will be split into two zones, a ‘Rewidling’ zone and a Wilderness zone.  

During his visit, Ben got to wear a skirt and a hood Lynx made out of animal skin, and stepped into the wilderness zone.  

‘Maybe it’s time for some of us to remember our wildness,’ Lynx cheekily told him. 

While he was touched by Lynx’s enthusiasm, Ben could see some obstacles in her way.  

‘The pragmatist in me sees that she’s got the map. She needs the land, she needs the money to buy the land. You need to find people who have a similar vision, with deep pockets,’ he said. 

However, the presenter said Lynx’s project does not feel impossible and added ‘life’s too short’ not to follow your dreams. 

The 56-year-old woman is an expert in wild living and has been dispensing her knowledge for the past twenty years

The 56-year-old woman is an expert in wild living and has been dispensing her knowledge for the past twenty years

During his visit, he also got to meet three like-minded men and a woman who had come come from all over Europe to learn from Lynx. 

Tessa, the only woman other than Lynx, who came from the Hague, in the Netherlands, told Ben she had been ‘looking for a place like this’ for a little while. 

She said she found Lynx ‘very impressive’ and that seeing her in her prehistoric clothing ‘speaks to the imagination’.

Founding her community was a direct answer to the loneliness Lynx suffered from during the hard Norwegian winter.  

‘It’s so nice to have people to sing with, share stories with,’ she told Ben. 

The presenter said it felt like a ‘very natural progression for Lynx to have a community’. 

‘She wants to share and she wants to learn, the more I see her with other community members the more I get a sense of satisfaction,’ he said. 

Viewers were deeply impressed with how Lynx was able to survive by herself in the wild. 

Viewers were deeply impressed with Lynx story and thought the survivalist was'absolutely incredible'

Viewers were deeply impressed with Lynx story and thought the survivalist was ‘absolutely incredible’ 

‘Cracking programme tonight ….keep them coming please,love these programmes,’ one said.  

‘Such a lovely program. This is what we need at the moment. Getting away from everything that is going on in the world,’ another said. 

‘Omg I’m going,’ another enthusiastically said.   

One called Lynx: ‘an absolutely incredible person’ and added they were ‘mind-blown’ by her story.  

At the time of Ben’s first visit, Lynx admitted she wasn’t always an eco-warrier but had an epiphany in her twenties after a hedonistic period living in Amsterdam as a punk rocker.

She said: ‘After abusing myself for a few years in Amsterdam I realised I had to clean up my act. 

‘I had a lot of family in Sweden and I decided to go and live in the forest up there. It was a soothing and nurturing place for me and very beneficial to my survival at that age.’ 

She then travelled through wilderness areas in America and attended a survival school to learn how to make her own tools, build a fire in less than 30 seconds and hunt.

She said it was then that she realised she wanted to do without mod cons for the rest of her life. 

Lynx, left, had an epiphany in her 20s after experience a party phase as a rock band member in the 1990s

Lynx, left, had an epiphany in her 20s after experience a party phase as a rock band member in the 1990s 

‘I lay down on the earth and said “this is what I want to do, protect the earth and live as low impact as possible and help others live that way”.’

She spent 25 years living in remote locations before making the mountain forest in the North Cascades of Washington state her home. 

At the time of his 2016 visit, she lived in an ‘Earth Lodge’ she made herself underground.   

She had also made herself a store room from wood, which she used to help her survive the harsh winters by stocking up on food during the summer months.

For food that needed to be kept cold, her ‘fridge’ was a hole in the snow. 

She revealed her annual expenditure was $10,000 (£8,000) a year, which mostly went to feeding the four horses she used to help her sustainable way of living and to plough her way through the snow in the winter.

She earned her money by training small groups of students in how to live off the land.  

Ben Fogle airs on Tuesdays at 9pm on Channel 5. 

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