Monday, January 17, 2011

WInter Survival Skills

Note to self:  after spending so much time creating a beautiful nature/botany journal that is the perfect size for travel - take it on a nature hike!  

learning to identify dry wood

building our fire
On Sunday we participated in a fabulous Winter Survival Skills class taught by Lilah’s instructor from Two Coyotes Wilderness School.  It was a perfect day for a hike through the snowy woods.  With lots of layers and good snow boots we were happy and warm. Since I forgot to bring my journal, I am going to recount what we learned from memory and the details may be fuzzy.  Not that I wasn’t listening....because I was, but I was also trying to take pictures while keeping my eye on my two children plus my friend’s child who we brought along with us.
We learned that hemlock trees make great fire wood.*  You can use their needles for tea.  We chewed on the branches of a wintergreen tree that tasted just like wintergreen gum.  It has medicinal value similar to aspirin without the side effects....  We learned how to tell dry wood from wet wood - hold it to your lips.  If it feels cold it is dry.  It it feels warm it is not - the moisture is still evaporating from it.  If we had to sleep outside we now know not to lay on the snow, it pulls the warmth from out body.  Building a platform from branches is best.  We learned how to identify animal pee.  Did you know deer pee has little odor but fox pee has the odor of skunk? I did not know this!  We gathered birch bark after thanking the tree for its generosity and used it as kindling to start our own fire with the wood we gathered.  Even though my friend and I were with the children, we left this task to them.  They found, gathered, and built the fire.  Justin, the instructor, provided us with matches, although we learned which trees make good friction fires.  Our fire took some effort.  It started slowly but then caught on and just as it was looking good enough for s’mores we had to smother it with snow and ensure it was completely extinguished.
did anyone pack s'mores??
It was a great afternoon.  Classes like this teach so many things.  Independence, survival skills, botany, nature studies, respect for one another and respect for one’s self.  If you live in CT, I would highly recommend any class taught by instructors from Two Coyotes.  I credit them for helping Lilah become the person she is today.  For that I will always be grateful.

* 1/18/11  I received a comment from Justin correcting some errors in my posting.  I will never forget my journal again!
I noticed a few of the details in the blog were off. Amazing memory considering you were making sure the kids are safe and talking photos of the day all while wading in knee high snow.

Hemlock trees and fire: makes great tinder but not larger fire wood. It burns quick with lots of sparks. this is good for fire starting. also it makes a nice bow drill fire. Oak and other hard woods make a much better fuel for keeping a fire going.

measuring the degree of dryness in a twig: break it and listen for the snap or put it to your lips. if it is warm and feels dry it probably is. Also dry wood tends to be standing and not on the ground.


Karen said...

Kei would love this! I wish there were something like this here. Maybe there is and I need to check it out. It looked like so much fun and I am impressed by all you 'remembered'. :)

Debbie's L'Bri said...

This really looked like a fun day.My kids love these kinds of experiences.

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