February 21, 2011

Alderleaf Wilderness College Winter Trip 2011

The Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program spent a wonderful week tracking and working on winter survival skills in the Okanagon region of eastern Washington.

Students got to track a variety of wildlife through the snowy landscape of Ponderosa pine forests, meadows and aspen groves. Some groups traveled through the valley, while others climbed the ridges. Each becoming familiar with the plants and animals of the eastern cascade mountain region. Some of the highlights included: most of the class getting to watch a white long-tailed weasel repeatedly hunting voles through the snow near are main camp, finding tracks of many creatures including pine marten, snowshoe hare, grouse, and cougar, and hearing a chorus of coyotes echoing through the night air.

Students built a variety of snow shelters, including quinzees and snow trench shelters. Such shelters can be surprisingly warm when properly made and are key to surviving the extremely low temperatures of winters. Students constructed them, and slept in them for the week.

Here Alderleaf instructor Dave Scott demonstrates a snow trench shelter, created with an additional wind block wall near the door to help reduce wind chill. The entrance to the shelter can be seen next to Dave's right leg.

The trip was a great success, with many amazing experiences and memories made. The Alderleaf crew left the Okanagon with deep gratitude for all the gifts we received and we look forward to another trip out next winter!

February 1, 2011

December at the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program

Just before the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program took a break for winter, they were engaged with some naturalists challenges. One of them was a fire making challenging involving small group of students, to see who could pop a balloon full of water first using only flames.

Here students Alex, Dannielle and Ryan work together to feed the fire, while Trevor blows air into the structure to make the flames grow more quickly.

And here is the moment of triumph, when the water in the balloon doses the flames!

Another naturalist challenge involved being led to a tree while blindfolded, then led away and having to find that same tree when the blindfold is removed.

Here student Miles uses his other senses to meet a tree. Later, he successfully found his way back to this same beautiful bigleaf maple tree!