November 24, 2010

Snow for Thanksgiving Week!

To the surprise of many, Alderleaf got several inches of snow this week! It turned the property into a white winter wonderland. Here are some images of the property in the snow:

Happy Thanksgiving Day Everyone!

Flintknapping at Alderleaf

Students of the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program got an opportunity to learn from experienced survival skills teacher Frank Sherwood recently.

They worked both with raw obsidian as well as glass bottles. Here students Georgie and Connor show their enthusiasm for the craft. They learned techniques such as abrading, pressure flaking, notching and percussion flaking. Then they put them together to create their first flintknapped arrow points.

November 15, 2010

Cedar Baskets with Karen Sherwood

Recently Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program students experienced using the bark from "the tree of life" (western red cedar) to make beautiful and functional baskets. With Karen Sherwood's instruction and guidance, they got their hands into the task.

Students like Phil J. pictured below, learned to make cedar baskets in the Lummi style.

Baskets have been used by many tribes throughout North America for tasks such as carrying berries, wild game, and even water. These baskets are small containers, traditionally used for gathering berries.

More highlights soon!

Superadobe Root Cellar Nears Completion!

With patience and persistence, many hands came together to make the Superadobe Root Cellar project possible. The project is now very near completion, with the main body of work completed.

Here Danny R., Phil J. and Steve N. celebrate a day of work completed.

Finishing touches will be to back-fill around the root cellar, do some plastering and/or masonry on bags, complete the awning, and depositing soil on top of the structure. Finally the soil will be seeded and the root cellar will be all but invisible, beautifully blended into the landscape.

November 8, 2010

Primitive Water Purification

Water is one of the essential aspects of survival. Knowing how to make it safe to drink is a vital skill. Imagine being in a survival situation without access to more modern means of purifying water... what to do?

Rock boiling water is an excellent way to purify water. If you, however, do not have a container to boil water in you are presented with an additional problem.

Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program students were faced with this situation on Friday in class. First, they spent some time burning out bowls using coals from a fire.

Then, once it it has been hollowed out enough and scraped smooth, they poured water into it. Next they dropped red-hot golf-ball sized stones into the water to bring it to a boil. The water was allowed to boil for several minutes to allow time to kill water borne parasites. Some western hemlock needles were added for flavor, and allowed to cool.

Students gained a new appreciation for having easily available clean drinking water and learned skills they will have to put to the use on their survival trip at the end of the year.

November 2, 2010

Olympic Peninsula Magic

This past week the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program students went on a several day adventure to the Olympic Peninsula. We visited the incredible collection at the Makah Museum in Neah Bay on our first day. Practically all of the artifacts found in the museum came from a site at Cape Alava, where a landslide buried and preserved an entire Native village.

The following day, we explored the boggy cedar forests and wild coastline of the Ozette area. The collection in the museum came from this same area!

Students got the opportunity to get to know the seashore life, and learn more about edible seaweeds and other edible seashore creatures.

The tide pools were rich with a wide assortment of life forms.

One group of students found a freshly dead adult brown pelican. The bird had no obviously apparent external injuries. We wondered if this bird was perhaps a victim of the red tide that was happening out in the ocean.

Though sad, this animal provided close looks at the details of its beautiful plumage and amazing beak. It's 6 foot plus wingspan was also incredible to see!

Deer are incredibly tame along this stretch of coastline as they have not been hunted here for many years. The area is abundant with many kinds of wildlife, including bald eagles, sea lions, sea otters, and many other sea shore creatures.

Our last day on the Olympic Peninsula was ended with a visit to the Hoh Rainforest, home of incredible old-growth forest full of huge and ancient cedars, spruces and Douglas firs. Students were deeply impressed with the magnificence and abundance of this ancient forest.

Our last day came to a close with a blazing sunset over the Olympic mountains, as we headed east back to Seattle.

The trip was absolutely amazing, and blessed with abundant sunshine and great encounters with the natural world. More stories from the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program to come soon!