The Ultimate Survivalists?

Bear Grylls has nothing on the Lykovs.

Smithsonian wrote this week about a family that survived alone and undetected by civilization for 42 years in a remote corner of the Siberian taiga. Having fled religious persecution by the Soviets during the purges of the 1930s, the Lykov family went so far off-grid, they hadn't come into contact with other humans (that we know of) until discovered in 1978 by a team of geologists surveying the wilderness by helicopter.

How off-grid is that, exactly? For starters they missed a little thing called World War II. Didn't even know it happened.

And they hadn't tasted salt in decades.

The Lykovs' feat makes even the most hardened modern-day survivalists seem like backyard campers. Although the clan survived principally on nuts, berries and potatoes, grown son Dmitry proved to be an outdoorsman nonpareil:

Lacking guns and even bows, they could hunt only by digging traps or pursuing prey across the mountains until the animals collapsed from exhaustion. Dmitry built up astonishing endurance, and could hunt barefoot in winter, sometimes returning to the hut after several days, having slept in the open in 40 degrees of frost, a young elk across his shoulders.

And Mr. Grylls still has competition, if only honorary: the youngest daughter, Agafia Lykova, still lives alone in her mountain cabin with a little help from the local authorities. She is around 70.