Tim Smith

Spinning bowdrills during a firemaking exercise on the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. Context is everything. This exercise is significantly more challenging in the field than in a warm, dry, indoor location. Add the snow and cold and it becomes even more so. But that’s when it’s real.

Morning coffee on the beach. Cool and cold mornings are the norm during the end of the fall Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. The cooler temperatures make the hot coffee taste that much better.

Winter bushcraft gear and the knowledge to make it work is the topic for episode 28 of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft podcast. Ed Butler, Christopher Russell and I discuss sleeping bags, pads, dressing in layers, and how to carry heavy wool clothing. We also discuss the difference between Merino wool and Dan Marino wool, amongst [...]

Canadian guide, musher and old friend Jeff Butler (of Northwoods Survival) and I discuss how depth of knowledge is being replaced by shallow understanding and rant about a variety of aspects of the outdoor industry. We also talk about dispelling myths of survival and what he’s working on next; a cultural tourism business. Recorded at [...]

End Of A Long Day

Feet Up

Feet up while people cook their dinner over the group fire. Not in a rush. The foreground is in focus, while the background is not – exactly how I feel after a long day teaching and guiding.

Next up, a private axemanship course for a group of engineers and tool designers, teaching how to wield this simple tool safely and powerfully. From the left: Snow & Neally, John King, Spiller. Maybe an awesome new American axe in a year. #fulltanglifestyle 

One part of the off-grid (and full tang) lifestyle I’ve lived over the years that doesn’t get a lot of attention is keeping yourself entertained. Most people in the modern world watch a lot of video, whether via tv (older folks) or youtube (younger folks). Although things are changing, this has never been an option [...]

I get great, deep sleeps at the field school. It’s one of the things that I love about life here. Last night, though, I popped awake at about 3:40. I felt wide awake and decided to walk outside and into the field. As I stood there, I heard the distant mating call of a female [...]

Mist On The Bonaventure

The Registered Maine Guide podcast episode. Tim, Christopher and Ed Butler (aka WorkingClassWoodsman) talk about the history of guiding in Maine, the test to become a registered guide, and prognosticate about the future of guiding. If you want to learn about Maine Guides past, present and future, give it a listen. Recorded in the Guide [...]

Fly Fishing With A Nymph

Late summer of 2017 has been marked by extremely dry weather and low water in the Aroostook river. We have a USGS monitor station here in Masardis just upriver from the field school, and today (September 3rd, 2017) it showed the river flowing at 74 cubic feet per second. That’s the lowest I’ve seen it [...]

DIY Waxed Canvas Pack

Oiling a canvas pack, DIY waxed canvas. Equal parts boiled linseed oil and wax, heat until the wax melts, brush it on. Dry it for a few weeks. #fulltanglifestyle 

Many people these days are interested in learning how to go off the grid; to learn the systems needed to be self-sufficient in a remote location. These systems can include a humanure toilet system, rocket stove and open fire cooking systems, food storage systems, grey water systems, homemade solar power and hot water systems, and [...]

Carbon Steel Skillets

Seasoning new carbon steel skillets by rendering pork fat in them. They’re light, inexpensive and perfect for a traveling cook kit. Treat them like cast iron (no soap, keep them oiled) and they’ll last forever. From Agri-Supply.

snubbing down a sluiceway

One of my favorite spots in Maine; a remote lake with no road access. During the log driving days, they used dynamite to create a sluiceway, redirecting and enlarging the natural outlet for floating logs downriver to a sawmill. It’s just wide enough to float a canoe these days.

I have had the good fortune to learn from and call friend many of the titans of bushcraft and wilderness guiding. Knowing and learning from them has had a huge impact on my life and career. I won’t name names, but I don’t have to; if you’re reading this you probably already know half of [...]

morning fire photo

The fire is the central point of a remote campsite, such as this one on the Maine/New Brunswick border on the St. Croix river. We’re in Maine, but the far side of the river, visible in the background, is Canada.

Pack, Axe & Hat

Pack In The Mist

We are a species of countless wants, but very few needs. In this photo is my kit for canoeing remote rivers; when I have it my needs are met. An old canvas pack, an axe and my big hat. Seen here at Kicking Horse Pass on the Bonaventure river, Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, in the morning [...]

Rips On The Bonaventure

The Bonaventure River has long stretches of whitewater and quickwater. You start in the mountains and end at the ocean. In between is a long, sometimes steep, downhill run.

People who write books or teach usually base their writing or instruction on one of three sources: Imagination: They write or teach what they imagine something to be like. Purely hypothetical. Research: They interview others in person or via what they’re written, and then draw conclusions from other’s experience. They don’t have the experience themselves. [...]

I was recently asked what the most challenging aspect of running this business is. After almost 20 years, I’m able to answer without hesitation; March. March is a tough month in northern New England. You can’t count on winter for winter activities, and you definitely can’t count on spring. As a result, you have to [...]

For episode 22 I spoke with professional forager Jenna Rozelle Darcy about wild food, foraging as a business, and using wild plants as part of a daily lifestyle. Jenna has been a professional forager for 5 years, selling what she gathers at farmers markets, to chefs, and direct to clients. She also teaches foraging classes [...]

The fall, 2017 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester has been full for months, but in the past few days we’ve had 2 cancellations, resulting in 2 open spots. We’ll be contacting the folks on our waiting list this weekend, but if you’re interested give us a call Monday morning.

“The Art Of Outdoor Living; A Resource For The Junior Maine Guide Program” is on my top ten list of most important books on bushcraft and outdoor living, and recently came back into print. It provides clear instructions on a variety of outdoor living skills. The updated edition features 280 pages of revised text, glossy [...]

Update about appropriate pot systems for the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. We’ve solved the problem of lids for the 2 quart stainless pails. As a result, we recommend bringing two of these to field school programs. From the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester Gear List: • Cook pot with a bail handle Will be used for cooking food [...]

Short video of poling a canoe in fast water, shot during the spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. The expedition canoe skills we teach are a long way from a short paddle on the pond. Professor Ben Spencer was coaching from the bow in this shot. The water was fast and deeper than it looked; challenging conditions [...]

Shelling Acorns

On episode 21 I speak with my old friend Chris Knapp of the Koviashuvik Local Living School in Temple, Maine. Chris has two decades of experience homesteading, teaching, guiding, and living close to the land. During our talk we discuss their Simple Life Internship, which is coming in 2018. At the end of our discussion [...]

I was recently in touch with Thomas Clayton from Wander & Roam Media. Ten years ago he came out the field school and shot this video. We’re talking about collaborating on another project in the future. This video is the favorite Jack Mountain video of a few people I’ve heard from, and this version is [...]

We’re Hiring. 2017 is the year we want to take our food production systems to the next level.  We’re looking for someone (or 2) experienced in with gardening and keeping chickens who is also interested in living a simple, off-grid lifestyle to keep us moving toward our goal of establishing a robust food production system. They will [...]

Episode 20 of the podcast is all about the reboot of the School Of The Forest, the JMBS youth and teen program. Christopher Russell and I discuss the educational philosophy of the program and what to expect as the program launches this spring and summer. Links: School Of The Forest SOTF Calendar Friluftsliv Article Book: [...]

Older video of a hand drill coal being made with a closeup on the fireboard. This is from 2007 (and rocking that 240p resolution), but demonstrates that with the right materials and a some experience, getting a friction fire coal doesn’t need to take a lot of time or energy. Remember that it is very [...]

Our instructors have the most experience and highest level of training in the industry. Other schools have instructor training courses lasting a few days to a few weeks. Our instructor training course is a minimum of 2 years. We run the longest and most challenging courses in the industry. Fittingly, our staff have the longest [...]

Many of our alumni go on to do awesome things. One of those is Thomas Letchworth. Since completing our yearlong immersion program, Thomas has been a full time student and entrepreneur. He started the Endurance Guiding Company, and has led multiple backpacking trips in the US and Iceland. As the Endurance Guiding Company, Thomas and [...]

https://vimeo.com/209919188 A show and tell of three options for personal pots for the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, as well as the 8″ dutch oven we recommend. There are lots of other options that will work, these are just the most common. Links to where you can purchase them are on our Wilderness Bushcraft Semester gear list.

Years ago I pulled the trigger on a 17” Maca dutch oven (seen in the photo above). It’s big, deep, heavy (29 quarts, 67 pounds empty), and has fed countless big groups at the field school. Maca made a name for themselves with their large-capacity dutch ovens. If you wanted to feed an army, a [...]

Our spring and fall Wilderness Bushcraft Semester courses this year are both full. The fall course has been filled for while, and we just filled the last spot on the spring course this week. There are just a few spots left on the Summer Woodsman and Riverman courses, and they probably won’t last long. We’re [...]

Mud season is in full swing, so fly fishing season is right around the corner. It’s a great time to learn to tie your own flies. With this in mind, Paul Sveum and Derek Faria are hosting a fly tying workshop on Tuesday, March 28th at 6pm. Bring your own vise and tools. $10 covers [...]

By the time spring arrives I’ll have spent six weeks in remote, off-grid camps this winter. We just returned from our trip to northern Quebec, and today I’m provisioning for the first of two Boreal Snowshoe Expeditions, starting next week. Below are a few random ideas on living out in the winter that crossed my [...]

Recorded right after we got back from our trip to northern Quebec where we spent a week immersed in Cree Culture. Living in a traditional shelter on the side of a lake, we learned about hunting, trapping, snaring, fishing with gill nets as part of learning about traditional northern life ways. In the podcast we [...]

Big group photo

PHOTO: Self Reliance Workshop on wild foods from summer, 2016. For episode 17 I spoke with Josh Arnold, the director of Global Awareness Local Action (GALA). GALA is a local non-profit we partner with for our self reliance workshop series, among other things. We were also joined by Christopher Russell. We talked about the history [...]

PHOTO: Bush camp from a previous trip to Oujé-Bougoumou The bags are packed, the crew is ready, and in the morning we’re headed north to northern Quebec to spend a week with my friends David and Anna Bosum. We’ll snowshoe out to a bush camp and spend the week immersed in Cree culture and life [...]

Episode 16 of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Podcast is all about the role of crafting in bushcraft and education. Making things with your hands is a big part of our educational programs. I’m joined by Christopher Russell for a discussion about crafting as an educational tool, our experience with crafting during semester courses, and some [...]

We’re consciously shrinking. In 2017 we’re lowering the number of participants on almost all of our programs. It’s the opposite of growth, but our focus is on the experience. After years of experimentation, these are the numbers we find work the best for our immersion programs. The new maximum course sizes are: Wilderness Bushcraft Semester: [...]

Had a busy day in the office with our office manager. We were going over enrollment for 2017 and talking about past and future students. There was a period of time when she was looking through the enrollment paperwork and asked me if I knew/remembered person X, Y, Z, etc., and for each I said, [...]

Plagiarized Again

Mist On The Bonaventure

Recently it was brought to my attention that our website has been plagiarized again. Someone took our ideas and words (verbatim), used it as their own to sell programs similar to ours, and didn’t cite where they got it. Two days ago I received an email from a friend in Canada regarding a recent plagiarism [...]

Kancamangus Pass

After a great weekend at the Snow Walkers Rendezvous in Vermont I decided to take the scenic route home. It’s been a few years since I’ve driven the Kancamangus highway across New Hampshire’s White Mountains, but I have a lot of history there. From swimming in the rivers as a kid to backpacking as a [...]

Life is simpler on an expedition. The people on it have a shared goal and take tangible steps toward it every day. They come from different places and have different beliefs, but work together. When you stand shoulder to shoulder with someone while working hard as a team, you appreciate them, even if you don’t [...]

Poling Haycock Rips

This is a tricky rip to run as to do it well you have to do a long downstream ferry in a narrow space and keep your boat under control. The guy in the photo struggled with poling early on in the course, but ran this rip like a boss without hitting any rocks. Getting [...]

To learn new things is challenging. When you stay inside your comfort zone, not being challenged, you’re probably not learning new things. This is fine if you want to refine things you already know, but to blaze new ground demands that you be outside of where you feel 100% safe. In the photo above, participants [...]

Canoe In The River

We arrived at the campsite just as the rain began to fall. I unloaded my boat, but left her tied to the bank because the plan was to go pole up and down the rips when the rain stopped. There were a bunch of big hemlocks on this section of river, and they filtered the [...]

I loved this shot of the 20 footer, just below Little Falls under the brilliant red maple. She’s been my best and most consistent model for the past 15 years, and I never get tired of looking at her.

Paddling amongst the whitecaps with a brisk tailwind. Paddling in strong tailwinds is a seldom-used skill. As the waves increase in size they want to spin you. If you get spun it’s easy for the waves to swamp you. These guys had just come around the point into calm water. We hugged the shore for the [...]

A remnant of the log driving days, this stream was straightened and made deeper with explosives back in the day to facilitate floating logs downstream. It’s way off the beaten path of well-used canoe routes, but it and the pond above are among my favorite places in northern Maine. I’ve always loved getting out and [...]

During the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, we want people to learn how to plan food and meals for an extended trip, starting with themselves and finishing with planning for a group. We also want them to learn how much water water they need on any given day in order to feel good and have their body [...]

I read some advice about choosing the right axe recently. I want to make a statement about choosing the wrong axe, or at least the closest axe. I’ve met young people who couldn’t afford a high-end axe and felt that their skills wouldn’t develop until they could. It’s not true. The path to axe mastery [...]

Just before they left on the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, I sat down with Raife Bowman, Dylan Robinson and Jeremy Yates to talk about their recent hike across Quebec and New Brunswick on the International Appalachian Trail. They used their homemade pack baskets to do the hike, and had some adventures along the way. Listen [...]

Our giveaway of a signed copy of The Woods Cook recently came to an end. I’m happy to announce that Mark N. from Illinois is our winner! I sent out the book a few days ago, and he should be receiving it soon. This was our first foray into giveaways, and we expect to do more [...]

At the end of week 6 of the spring semester I recorded the second podcast with Christopher Russell. We talked about the progression of the course, the instructor and guide’s dilemma, the 2 journeys (outward and inward) that everyone is on, and told a few stories along the way. You can read more about Christopher, [...]

There are a lot things referred to as survival skills these days that have nothing to do with survival. Survival is keeping your body alive. It’s pretty simple, but not easy. Over the short-term, defined by how long you can fast and go without food (longer than a month), you need to maintain your body [...]

On Wednesday, July 6th from 5-7 pm we’re offering our popular campfire cooking workshop in Wolfeboro, NH, in partnership with GALA as part of our Self Reliance Workshop Series. This time around we’re adding a special treat; we’ll be joined by instructor Derek Faria of The Woodsman School. Derek’s an old friend and Registered Maine [...]

Lining An Embacle

Remote trips, especially solo, aren’t safe or even possible without solid canoe skills; poling, lining, and paddling. On the Bonaventure I poled the upper section, lined ledges, and as shown here, lined through the ’embacles’ (french for log jams). As this was just a short drop inline with the current, I didn’t bother to tie [...]

Below The Ledges On The Bonaventure

Just below a series of ledges on the Bonaventure. I should have ran this one on river right, but these are the things you learn during a first trip on a river and why I like to paddle them solo before doing them with clients.

Silently Observing

At dusk tonight I stood for half an hour watching and listening to four ruffed grouse feeding, talking and jumping around at the top of an aspen tree. Being silent and observing not only aids my knowledge and understanding of the natural world, but also my enjoyment of it. Empathy. Kinship. Belong to it.

Years ago I found a copy of the book Cooking Without Fuel that described a common appliance of 1900 that functioned much like a modern cooler. The idea was that you cook food until it boils, then put it in an insulated container which will maintain the heat and allow it to continue to cook, [...]

Being a lifelong learner, I’m of the belief that wherever you’re at, there is always room for improvement. Leading up to our 35th long-term course this spring, I’ve been seeking out additional training in order to become a better instructor. It’s been an immensely enjoyable experience. In early March I spent a weekend at Amherst Archery [...]

Combining The Northern Forest Canoe Route, The Appalachian Trail And The International Appalachian Trail Into An Epic Journey   The Idea There is a romance and simplicity in journeys that start at your door. In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins didn’t take a bus to a plane to another bus to a cab to start his [...]

 


 

Our Sites
· JMB Field School – Long-Term Immersion: Semester & Expedition Programs
· JMB Trips – Classic Wilderness Guiding By Canoe & Snowshoe
· JMB Folk School – Short Courses, Crafts & Lodge-Based Programs
· School Of The Forest – Teen & Youth Programs
· JM Outfitters – The World’s Smallest Outfitter
· JMB Master Calendar – Complete List Of Scheduled Programs

Typos, Etc.
Note: Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device that demonstrates his writing prowess.

RSS
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://blog.jackmtn.com/author/admin
YouTube
YouTube
Instagram

Our Email List
Join our email list; it’s the best way to keep up with what we’re up to. We promise to never fill your inbox with junk and we never share or sell your information. We value your time and privacy. We won’t abuse either of them. More Info.


Featured In:
Jack Mountain Bushcraft Media Appearances Image

Life Member – MPGA
mpga graphic
Life Member – MWGO
mwgo graphic
1 2 3 7 8