September 20, 2012

Shelter and Fire

The first few weeks of the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program have passed.  Students got to learn, practice and challenge themselves with a variety of important skills.  They got to sample fall wild edibles in the ethnobotany class, learned how to identify tracks in the wildlife tracking class and spent a week in the Oregon dunes practicing tracking and trailing skills.

They also learned how to take care of the essentials of survival, which includes shelter building and making fire from friction.

Here students Coley, Ethan and Riley add dry, fluffy debris to the inside of the shelter for bedding.  Other students worked on the outside, adding sticks as "ribs" and then covering the shelter in several feet of debris for insulation.

As the shelter went up, it was important to check it from the inside out to make sure no spots were missed and no holes left to let in the cold air or the rain.  Here Riley crawls in to have a look and let the others know where to put the materials for the greatest effect.

Here student, Austin, carves a new spindle for his bow-and-drill friction fire kit.  A spot of autumn sun shines on him as he works.

Alderleaf instructor Michelle teaches student Joanna how to make a bowline knot, to help secure the cord onto the bow.  It is key to have it properly attached, so that the spindle can spin quickly and consistently.

Austin puts all the parts of his kit together, gets into the proper form and spins the spindle until it makes a coal. Other students around him continue to work on their first bow-and-drill kits.

It takes some serious carving, sweat and patience to get your first friction fire.  Fire is one of the most important survival tools, it can purify our water, cook our food, and get us dry and warm after being soaked by the winter rains.  Fire is at the center of so many tasks in the wilderness, and through it we reconnect with all of our ancestors, who all once depended so much on fire to keep them alive, warm and fed.

Watch for more to come soon from Alderleaf!

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