I was forever changed by a wilderness survival weekend. Mark Suter of Primitive Texas led us successfully through a freezing night, shifting weather, edible plant collecting, and wild habitats at LLELA (the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area). If you want to see even more pictures, visit LLELA’s Facebook album.
Please note: We obtained permission to harvest certain plants. LLELA is a wildlife preserve; every part of the habitat is important to wildlife survival. This training was a special circumstance; please always do your best to Leave No Trace.
Edible plants so common they’re probably in your yard: Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium), Wild geranium[?] (Geranium carolinianum), and Chickweed (Stellaria and/or Cerastium species). And they were delicious!
A cool tree on the Cicada trail. Commonly in areas managed for wildlife, trees are only cut and moved if they fall on the trail. Otherwise, dead trees (“snags”) are left as great habitat for mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.
Mark demonstrates how to start a fire with a hand bow and drill. I didn’t learn it well enough to make a “fire kit” for myself, so I look forward to attending the next fire-making class Mark gives in North Texas (probably at LLELA).
Feeding the fire is just as important as starting the fire. Left: A teepee of sticks with a “door” ready to receive the “bird’s nest” style tinder. Center: The nest of tinder is a perfect place for the tiny, delicate coal created with a hand drill. Right: Ah, a snack and break from making shelter.
LLELA was alive with wildlife! Top left: Bobcat print (Lynx rufus) with gloved fingers and boot print for size comparison. Right: Whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Bottom left: Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), raccoon (Procyon lotor), and deer.
Survival is about teamwork; it took nine people several hours to build our shelter. According to Mark, shelter is of primary importance in a survival situation. (“Shelter, water, fire, food: that’s the sacred order, dude!”). We gathered pre-approved grasses to add insulation to our shelter.
As the sun set on our second grass-collecting trip, I was captivated by the beauty of warm light through the Switch grass (Panicum virgatum). After a very cold and cloudy day, the light and warmth were welcome. But a clearer sky meant the evening would get colder…
Good thing we built our shelter with plenty of time! Top: we roast a snack by the shelter’s frame. Middle: done! And proud. Bottom: A morning view from behind the shelter. Note smoke from two fires (cooking fire and sleeping fire).
This is actually, literally, where I hung my hat. I thought that log looked like a face.
I’ll leave you with a warm, cozy image, and tell you about the second day another time.
Happy New Year!
- The “Wilderness” Resort (qaf2.wordpress.com)
- There was snow… (rebeccajohnstone.com)
- What is Wilderness? (kmg2364.wordpress.com)
- Cosley Zoo offers behind-the-scenes look at bobcats (dailyherald.com)