On a whim, I took a chance on a course. An expensive chance. A week of my time for a week of theirs. It was to build a bridge and a friendship. It was for a chance of a hope that I might have a better chance at surviving somewhere that is still truly wild.
I doubt that most people even think about the untracked and trail-less forest. Let alone experienced it. From my recent six day sojourn to the outskirts of humanity, I learned a lot out there. From the immense amount of data I gathered the conclusion was that I had pretty much no idea about the wilderness around me. But, don’t get me wrong here, I’ve spent a good portion of my life in nature. But I spent five nights being humbled by the grandness of what the land truly represents. On a Dec 27, I also spent six hours wondering wether or not my father made it through one wintery night in the mountains with little more then a friend and a couple of snowmobiles.
I was forced to take my time off before April first this year in the month of January (big corp. politic and business policy…. *grrrrr). So I booked the last two weeks of February. I didn’t know that the course wouldn’t be happening. It just happened when I got the time to chat with an old friend of mine. He was taking a winter wilderness survival course. It turned out it landed on my first week off. Sweet. Was there any room? Of course. Come on down to the rodeo.
After two weeks of very little speculation and packing, I jumped into a jeep and went on my merry way.
(I recently turned 30. Which is kind of a ridiculous thing to waste any time thinking and fretting about. But yet, I was. It turned out that three people had their birthday that week. All on the specific decades of 50, 40, 30. Hmmmm? What did that mean? Still don’t know. Never will, I suspect. But I did spend my birthday out there with some complete strangers. )
The first night was strange. It was a big communal A-frame teepee type tent full of people who did not know each other. But we got there after nightfall and most people were trying to go to sleep. But were uncomfortable with the conditions or the stranger racking out next to them. I just decided I was going to stay up late near the fire and then hopefully just zonk out. But no, there was a snorer and complainer of the snorer. Then my 6’4” buddy told the complainer to stuff it or sleep somewhere else. I do not remember much more that night.
The first day was breakfast and appearance of the legend himself. Mors. Everybody went quiet and just stared at the poor guy. Then he started talking and it was non-stop learning from minute number one.
We cut spruce saplings and gathered ‘hug sized’ twig bundles for our projects:
And then came the Great Peeling and The Projects and the Great Ideas:
(Hanging sticks, cooking pot configurations, camp setup, knots, knife work, how to make camp fire coffee properly, fire setup, fire by friction, lean to’s, super shelters….etc… I was in bush geek heaven.)
Everybody was a gear junkie. What worked, what didn’t. Show and tell. What survival authors and actors were real and which weren’t. I really didn’t know either way. I was just there to see for myself. It was quite an open minded crowd to ideas and improvements in technique. I just happened onto this microcosm of likeminded people.
What did I learn? Lots. I have a long way before I am proficient in the northern boreal. But have been given the tools to possibly thrive in the environment into which I belong.