August 28th - Day #3
("Sit spot", Natural Shelter, Fuzz Sticks, Net Bags)
Woke at 0615 for my routine of breakfast and compiling notes of yesterdays events into my log book. After Day 2 if feels it more like day ten with all this information packed into our days. Its a great change of pace and I can really feel it physically, being on my feet and working with my hands from sun up to sun down. It's a productive exhaustion that is truly wonderful and I'm eager for more :)
We do this for about 30 minutes before starting the day or seeing anyone else. A "Sit Spot" is exactly as it says. Find a place in the forest, on the edge of a field or by the river where you can just sit. This is a place of solitude, a place to focus and observe away from people. All you have to do is be still, listen, wake up to everything around you and as the sun starts to rise you will begin to notice the forest waking up too with all its inhabitants beginning to move about. As you do this day after day, you will notice the birds and other animals getting used to your presence, they may come closer to you and they may not hesitate to investigate you a bit more. If you have never done this, I recommend counting the things you see, any movement or close your eyes and count all the sounds you can hear (how many bird songs, winds, leaves falling, a stick snapping, red squirrels or a plane in the sky) how many sounds can you keep organized in your head by counting them? You would be very surprised...Try it, its pretty neat. Just be in that moment and become aware that there is never nothing going on :)
Tim began the days instruction with natural shelters, concepts, components and designs. The first shelter I chose to create was the Quad-Pod, beginning the process by selecting a site in the woods that was level and wouldn't be flooded by potential rain fall. By building a box spring out of logs my body is off of the ground and body heat wont be transferring directly into the earth. Then using, ferns, leaves and pine boughs I created my mattress (this can never be too thick). You want the shelter big enough for you to sleep comfortably but you don't want it any bigger, the smaller the space the most heat is retained around your body. Using four poles I harvested with my axe and by placing them at the corners of my box spring/mattress , I now had my shelter frame. To secure the poles at the top I used my rope that we braided together yesterday (See Day #2) also putting a bundle of ferns sticking out of the apex to shed water droplets, the idea worked great! One side of this shelter will be left open for a fire and we will be using our tarps for the roofs (All natural shelter is definitely possible but with 10 students, time is a factor and material gathered would be 10x the amount) Each shelter that we build, we will spend at least 4 nights in. The only way to find out if you built it right or figure out anything you would do differently is to sleep in it. Sleepless night, cold, wet? FAIL..... Slept great, warm, stayed dry? PASS.....
How do you get a fire going with one match after multiple days of rain??? Hey, I'm glad you asked :) Know that there is always dry tinder in the forest and this is a skill everyone should be aware of. Using your knife or axe if you have one, go into the forest to locate some dry, dead, standing trees. Not to be mistaken with rotten, dead, standing trees... The trees you are looking for are not big, about 4 inches diameter and have an almost hollow sound when you knock on them and the inside is dry as can be. Because the wood is standing, the rain trickles down the tree, not really absorbing into the wood, such as you would find with a tree laying on the ground (most trees laying on the forest floor will be rotten). Get a few foot long sections of this tree and split it up into sticks not too much bigger then thumb width. Then using your knife (you should always have a knife in the wilderness) hold it up against the wood and carve away from you, trying to create thin layers that peel all the way down the stick. You want to stop at the end before completely shaving off each layer, making a feathering effect. The idea is "one match" will be able to ignite this tree, which you made possible by creating multiple smaller surface areas for the flame to catch. After you have made a bundle of these feather or fuzz sticks, make a tipi out of them where you will light the fire. BEFORE you light it, make sure you have more tinder on standby, twigs that snap or birch bark to maintain and sustain the fire after you get a flame. You do not want to light your Fuzz Sticks after all that hard work and then run off into the woods, scrambling to find more tinder as your flames dwindle and die...
A simple way to make a net bag to carry your food, gear or in my case, the essential element of water. Start with an even number of strings, doubling them so they are twice as tall as the container you want to hold.. Ok, tie an overhand knot right in the middle of your lengths of string so they are all secured together. Got it. Ok, now place the overhand knot in the bottom center of your container, pairing up two strings at a time, tie another overhand knot to secure the pairs together. Now begin tying overhand knots matching up one string from one pair with another string beside it from a different pair. Keep doing this until you have a bag.