A Photographic Journey through a Wilderness Survival Weekend, Part 2

Happy New Year! I want to share with you the final photos from the wilderness survival weekend at LLELA led by Mark Suter of Primitive Texas. (Here’s part 1, and here are LLELA’s photos.)

Note: We had permission to harvest certain plants. Every part of a habitat is important; please do your best to Leave No Trace.

Frosty CatbriarFrosty Catbriar (I think that would make a great stage name!) as evidence that we were indeed roughing it. Look – there’s even ice on the ground that looks like snow!

Frozen plantsMore frosted plants. I know Dewberry (top right). If you know the others, please enlighten me.

Iced Cottonwood LeafIce-crystal-encrusted cottonwood leaf on the aptly-named Cottonwood trail at LLELA

Yucca SoapAfter a day, night, and morning of adventuring, we washed with yucca root. A little water plus agitation made the natural saponins froth, cutting dirt and grease.

Campfire morningI love this shot of our morning together as a survival class: sassafras tea in my mug, pounded yucca fibers in my hand about to become twine, sunlight and fire providing warmth, gloves on the ground.

Making RopeMaking rope: my favorite skill learned from the weekend, and one that I’ve already used several times since. It’s surprisingly fun, and the rope – which I’ve tested several times – is quite strong.

debris shelter stagesMaking a single-person debris shelter from fallen logs, branches, and leaves. Shelter takes a long time to make, even with teamwork. I understand why survivalists encourage us to find/fix shelter FIRST.

Debris ShelterThe debris shelter was cozy. This one would stave off hypothermia in nights around 50°. For freezing weather, the frame should be so loaded with leaves that it looks like one big, rounded mound.

Grapevine DetailMark found a near-dead grapevine branch and used it to secure the logs at the entrance of the shelter. I love the details.

More Grapevine DetailI’m fascinated with all things twining and tendril-y.

Fuzzy StickTop: The best student-made fuzzy stick, held by its creator. Bottom left: mine. Clearly I’m not used to close knife work yet, but the stick still functions. Bottom right: I think this was Mark’s. The purpose a fuzzy stick is to increase surface area and dryness when kindling is damp or unavailable.

Brands to Buy and to AvoidTop: A student’s saw, which she graciously shared and we all liked. I’ve added it to my shopping list. Bottom left: a full-tang Gerber knife Mark recommended. Bottom right: NOT recommended – the Gerber machete. Two people brought one and BOTH blades were chipped within 48 hours. Mark said to buy machetes from army surplus stores.

Primitive ToolsA primitive skills toolbag. At the beginning of the weekend, this looked like sticks to me. Now I see discreet tools: tongs, soap, the makings of rope and twine, fire drill bits…

Cattail seedThis picture captured how we felt at the end of the weekend – tired, but happy enough to enjoy the whimsy of floating cattail seeds in the setting sun.

Parting WaysI deeply enjoyed learning and bonding during the survival weekend. I hope to adventure with these folks again soon.

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8 thoughts on “A Photographic Journey through a Wilderness Survival Weekend, Part 2

  1. Looks like it was an informative survival weekend. Beautiful pic of frosty leaves! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Happy Naturalist.

  2. That vine looks a lot like Alabama supplejack, not grapevine: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=BESC. Can’t tell completely from the pictures, but supplejack has smooth bark and really twines around things. Of course, they’re found in the same areas at LLELA, so there could be some of both in there, but I’d bet the really twisty stuff is supplejack. We should go for a walk and look for examples of both.

    • Great link, Diane. The main vine this was taken from was very rough, with grey, thick craggy bark. The branch itself was also rough and grey, but I’m not sure that shows well in the photo. I’m pretty sure it was grapevine, but not beyond doubt; I remember the exact spot we gathered, so we definitely should go look together!

  3. In pic 2, the plant at bottom right looks like Yarrow to me (Achillea millefolium, I believe). Not sure about the one at the left, sorry!

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