January 16, 2009

Ecological Tracking, Bowmaking and Water Purification

Yay! The Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program is back from break, but the weather hasn't given us any time to relax. Over Christmas and New Years the campus got 2 feet of snow! The day I came back to campus after visiting family in Iowa (where we had 3 feet of snow) there was still some on the ground, but it melted overnight and the snow melt, as well as some more rain, flooded us out so we didn't have class Wednesday and Thursday but were back on track on Friday. We practiced ecological tracking, which is a bit like the "big picture" of track and sign; we looked at an aerial photograph of a nearby wetland (lovingly dubbed the Dam Marsh) made by a beaver damn and hypothesized about what kind of animals would be active in the area and what kind of sign we would find. So we trekked out there and found sign of over 15 animals, some that we expected, and some that we didn't.

After a relaxing weekend of lumber milling we came back together to build survival sapling bows with Frank Sherwood. What a blast! It took us two full days of harvesting materials, tillering, sharpening points and making cordage but we did it. We even went "roving;" stalking imaginary game and challenging eachother to shoot faster, farther and with greater accuracy.

The week came to a close with a days lesson on water purification through boiling and other means. In order to boil water to kill any pathogens we first had to make our own bowls by burning into logs with coals to make a deep depression; then we filled the bowls with creek water and boiled it by adding rocks heated in the fire. We even added a few Douglas Fir needles for flavor and vitamin C. Yum! A multi-use trail through the grass across the path to the Dam Marsh.

Fritz burnishing the point on his Dogwood/Black Locust arrow.

Looks like fur; it's really just some beautifully formed frost on a twig.

Blowing through a Teasle straw onto coals to help them burn faster.

Placing the last hot rock in the dugout bowl to bring the water to a boil with Vine Maple tongs.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Your photographs are beautiful, inspiring and hopeful.
Love you.