February 23, 2009

Orienteering, weaving, not quite fire breathing

Last week at the Wilderness Certification Program we were presented with a challenge. In groups of two, we set out to find the "treasure" hidden in numerous locations at Lord's Hill Park in South Monroe. We were given maps with X marking the spots. Jase and I trotted like coyotes past Dixie and Jason to search for the first prize. Confused as to where it was, we decided to move along and find it on our way back. We quickly gathered up the next prizes, which were bags full of chocolate and things of the like. We took note of sign we saw along the way(bobcat, deer, river otter scats), but this was an orienteering course with some of the best incentive (candy!) and gave us tunnel vision. We all met up at the last spot and enjoyed some peppermint patties and water. The sun acted as our best directional aid for the day, and we were thankful that the sky was blue. It was a fun day, yet a day with many lessons in map reading, planning, and navigation.

On Thursday we explored alternate primitive fire making techniques. We built two pump drills, a fire plow, and a fire saw. These instruments gave me a new, high respect for the bow drill. I went for a quick plow while the others built the first pump drill. I used a cedar branch I had been drying. The pump drill is like a sprint. It requires a quick, very strong push-pull with one arm while applying downward pressure with the other arm. Ideally dust collects at the front end of the burn groove, but this did not happen in our case. Frustrated and rather parched, I watched Jason bust out a pump drill coal toward the end of the day while enjoying a refreshing canteen of water. The pump drill is a long term tool that would be applied in a wilderness living experience instead of a short term survival situation.

With sore legs from Wednesday's many mile treasure hunt and sore arms from flustered fire starting attempts, our Friday was spent weaving willow withe baskets. We started by weaving god's eyes, then shifting to a traditional twining technique. With a bit of stick-to-it-ness we all had made funtional holding containers. Some are arrow quivers and others are fire kit holders!

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