This is a cautionary tale. It’s from the Smithsonian Mag. A family of four, old believers in the Russian Orthodox church, took to the hills in 1936 to avoid persecution by the Tsar. They moved from place to place, finally settling in a high Siberian valley 150 miles from the nearest settlement. There they stayed for forty years until they were discovered by Soviet geologists in 1978. During the time they were there the family grew from the original four, they were entirely unaware of World War II, and their language changed.
They lived on very little, experiencing almost constant hunger and near starvation. When the geologists arrived the children were understanably terrified.
…beside a stream there was a dwelling. Blackened by time and rain, the hut was piled up on all sides with taiga rubbish—bark, poles, planks. If it hadn’t been for a window the size of my backpack pocket, it would have been hard to believe that people lived there. But they did, no doubt about it…. Our arrival had been noticed, as we could see.
The low door creaked, and the figure of a very old man emerged into the light of day, straight out of a fairy tale. Barefoot. Wearing a patched and repatched shirt made of sacking. He wore trousers of the same material, also in patches, and had an uncombed beard. His hair was disheveled. He looked frightened and was very attentive…. We had to say something, so I began: ‘Greetings, grandfather! We’ve come to visit!’
The old man did not reply immediately…. Finally, we heard a soft, uncertain voice: ‘Well, since you have traveled this far, you might as well come in.’”