I'll be spending this winter and spring in the Austin, Texas area with my wife and kids. This means we won't be running any winter courses or snowshoe trips in the coming months, but we may run some short programs in Texas. It will be interesting learning about new plants and habitats. If you're in [...]
A guarantee on a piece of gear doesn't mean it won't fail. It means that if it does fail, the maker will stand behind it and repair or replace it. This is a good policy, but it doesn't help you when you're on a remote trip. This past spring I guided a 105 mile trip [...]
I have learned more about fungi from Paul Stamets's book Mycelium Running (Amazon.com link) than any other resource. While other books on mushrooms are often great field guides for identifying individual species, Stamets's book has helped me to understand the ecology and relationships of mushrooms. I still have a long way to go, but I [...]
We've done a lot of things in our 12 years, but there has always been something missing. No longer. We've finally got a latin motto. Ago Puteus Foris. It means Live Well Outside.
"Craft teaches our dependence upon the natural material world directly and practically - not as an abstraction." - Zabe MacEachern, from her article Crafting as a practice of Relating to the Natural World in the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE), Vol 5, No 1 - 2000. Crafting is often seen as a way to [...]
One of my all-time favorite books is Elliott Merrick's True North. It is his journal of a year spent in Labrador in the late 1920's when he journeyed upriver to the height of land and learned to live off the country with the trappers. I'll eventually get to writing a review of it, but I've [...]
My experience running 16 bushcraft and wilderness semester courses has taught me the value of taking a time-out from modern life and living more simply. I've seen the positive effect the experience has had on course participants. I know the effects it has had on me. Some of these include: Separating needs from wants. Living [...]
My son told me he liked cornbread last week, so we came up with a simple recipe we made together for a sourdough cornbread baked in a 10.5” square cast iron skillet. It differs from our old cornbread recipe because it uses eggs and milk (our old recipe uses no perishable ingredients), so we're calling [...]
I've added a new category to the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog: Food. Look for posts on recipes, wild foods, and general food-related topics.
The dates and details are set for our June, 2011 Woodsman and Bushman courses. You can get the dates on our calendar. Woodsman: June 12-18 Bushman: June 19-25 Last year these courses ended on Friday afternoon. This year they'll end on Saturday morning. Last year the Woodsman course filled early, so if you're interested register [...]
We've had kids join their parents on many of our courses, even semester courses. It's been a great experience for the kids, and great bonding time for the families. As a result, we've put together a new kids policy. Kids Policy - We are a family-friendly business, and understand the value of parents and kids [...]
I had a friend at the field school this past summer and he and I spent some time discussing water and water systems. We collect rainwater at the field school for drinking and washing, and when it runs low we get water from a stream or the river. At the time he was in the [...]
I've got a couple of jugs of wine bubbling away and wanted to share another fermentation project I've got on the go; cheap and simple hard cider. I just started this the other day so it will be done in time for the holidays. While there are lots of books and websites with a lot [...]
This quotation from the introduction to The Book Of Five Rings discusses what Zen is. The Zen of bushcraft, then, is doing something so many times that doing it becomes second nature. "In Zen first comes the technique, practiced so many times that it is forgotten. Then you begin to use it. It is when [...]
We've been using the humanure composting system since 1996. At the field school, we've simplified it down from a sawdust toilet. Now it's a forest duff toilet. The goal was to use only materials we could gather on site. Now we cover fresh deposits with duff; the mixture of leaves and dirt that makes up [...]
For a trip of any duration, a good skillet ranks just behind the axe, knife and kettle as an irreplaceable piece of kit. Ever since fellow Maine guide Bud Farwell turned me on to "The One Eyed Poacher And The Maine Woods" during a fall Allagash trip, I've been a big fan of Edward Ware [...]
I'm not a peak bagger. I don't care about rushing to the top of a mountain, then rushing down, all so I can check it off on my life list of hikes. I'm the same way with river trips. I realize that peak bagging, as a philosophy, is the norm in outdoor recreation. It's a [...]
The Windpouncer jacket is the premiere wind and rain layering system jacket I've ever encountered. Three layers of ultra-thin imagi-foam stand between you and the elements ensuring you stay warm and dry, and your hands are sure to be warm in two large slash pockets lined with their proprietary "cold-be-gone" spun polyester... OK, this is [...]
Can you train people for white water canoeing without them spending time in white water? Is training without a realistic setting viable? I spent six years trying to get people ready for white water canoe poling and paddling by having them complete exercises on smooth water. But when we got to the actual white water, [...]
I just gave my son his first knife. It's one I've had and used extensively for 11 years, and he was really excited. I explained to him that he's only allowed to use it when I'm with him because he needs to learn how to use it safely, but this didn't dampen his enthusiasm at [...]
Bushcraft is about doing something. Not about buying something. This is good to keep in mind in our era of gear saturation.
There are a lot of terms in use these days with regard to outdoor and survival personalities, and every so often an argument seems to break out as to who is an expert and who isn't. Some of these titles are bestowed by tv networks or other media outlets, while others are self-bestowed by instant [...]
Now that I'm back from the woods, I wanted to let regular readers know what I'm working on. First, I'm putting together our 2011 schedule. I'm still waiting to hear about several non-bushcraft events I need to plan around, but as soon as I get the information on them I'll be posting our new schedule. [...]
We've wrapped up our 16th wilderness bushcraft semester course and I've made it back from the field school in one piece. I'm back to consistent internet access, and will be blogging and posting photos from today forward. Although our email vacation message said that I got to town once per week to keep up with [...]