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 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!
More frosted plants. I know Dewberry (top right). If you know the others, please enlighten me.
Ice-crystal-encrusted cottonwood leaf on the aptly-named Cottonwood trail at LLELA
After 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.
I 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 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.
Making 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.
The 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.
Mark found a near-dead grapevine branch and used it to secure the logs at the entrance of the shelter. I love the details.
I’m fascinated with all things twining and tendril-y.
Top: 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.
Top: 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.
A 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…
This 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.
I deeply enjoyed learning and bonding during the survival weekend. I hope to adventure with these folks again soon.