This afternoon we wrapped up week six of our nine-week spring semester with Journeyman certification testing on axemanship and dramatic thunderstorms. As part of our Journeyman certification, students have to pass a series of tests in the field to demonstrate their mastery of the material. Today we tested on the four major axe disciplines: felling, [...]
Immediately following our spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, our team of instructors is headed northeast to the Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula for a whitewater trip on the Bonaventure River. (Photo above is from Kicking Horse Pass on the Bonaventure, taken on a previous trip.) We’ll be joined by several notable Canadian and American instructors. We’re all excited [...]
We had a cold front pass over us this morning and Adam Lougee snapped this photo of the clouds over the Guide Shack. I love looking at and studying the clouds. So much beauty right over head every day.
I’m a lifelong learner. Even as I’m sliding through middle age, I still get excited about learning new things. Each year I like to take a course or two to increase what I know and because I find it enjoyable. I like to seek out experienced instructors, because when I’m taking a course I’m learning [...]
Walking across arctic Norway, axe in hand. Shot this photo when in Norway filming a tv show in 2014. I wanted to be able to prove to my kids I was actually there! #fulltanglifestyle
A few years ago I was abducted and left for dead on top of a mountain in arctic Norway. I was forced to find my own way back to civilization while dealing with deep snow fields, freezing temperatures and raging rivers. The entire experience was recorded and appeared as an episode of the Discovery Channel [...]
We had quite a bit of traffic, slowing the travel down a bit. #fulltanglifestyle
Today is the official halfway mark on the spring semester; 4.5 weeks down, 4.5 weeks to go. In some ways our 9-week semester seems to pass in the blink of an eye. In others, it seems to last for years. So far this specific course has been flying by leaving me wondering where the time [...]
On our long-term semester and expedition programs, we live and work together in close quarters for an extended period of time. Our goal is for individuals to learn and excel at hard skills, but without a plan and systems regarding how to live and work together, successful outcomes are harder to achieve. Working as a [...]
Episode 39 of the JMB Podcast begins with Ed’s review of the New England Bushcraft Show, moves to a discussion about appropriate gear for specific situations, then a discussion of minimum versus displaced impact, and lastly a cross-cultural view of different approaches to ecology, specifically regarding the Cree idea of continued use for sustainability of [...]
The river is calling, and this morning we will answer! We’re headed out on our first trip of the spring semester in an hour. The water is high, cold and fast, and we’re headed to a winding, small river with plenty of challenging water. It will be the first time poling in moving water with [...]
What a difference a week makes! The photo is Christopher taking the first paddle around the pond (aka Grand Lac Samsquanch) of 2018, 1 week ago. Today was sunny and 70 degrees, and we had a bunch of boats on the pond working through our introduction to canoe poling curriculum. It was a late spring, [...]
Keeping your body clean is important. This video is all about the ways in which to do so with no infrastructure. Something I neglected to mention in the video is that the Pump-Up Solar Shower is also a great piece of kit for trips to the ocean in order to rinse off at the end [...]
Today begins week four of the spring semester. People have been living with the field school systems long enough for it to become second nature, making life smooth and enjoyable. Another factor in this smooth, enjoyable lifestyle is the weather; the snow is finally gone and we’re enjoying warm, sunny weather. Watching the plants emerge [...]
Traditional Maine Guide Canoeing: Episode 38 of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Podcast. On a blustery Saturday morning, Christopher and I discussed the role of the canoe in northern Maine. Along the way we covered the history and materials of canoes (birch bark, wood canvas, aluminum, fiberglass, plastic),why canoeing still matters, the JMB traditional skills approach, [...]
It’s a Guide Shack Saturday night. From the photo: radio, guide canteen, knife, hat, wood stove in the northwest corner (thankfully not needed for the first Saturday of 2018). Listening to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio. Dutch oven cooking outside. My 16’x20′ off-grid, off-pipe home at our field school in northern Maine. Content. [...]
Our Summer Woodsman course for July, 2018 is currently full with a waiting list. We’re not accepting any more registrations for it. The next week long course covering similar skills is the Autumn Woodsman which takes place November 4-10.
In episode 37 of the JMB Podcast, we discuss the Journeyman Certification, our standards-based guide and outdoor leader certification. To get there, we start with a history of the bushcraft/primitive skills/survival industry, how the Bulletin Of Primitive Technology and the internet got us to the point where the industry is at now, and the difference [...]
After snowshoeing into the field school for the first two and a half weeks of the spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, on May 1st the snow was finally low enough for me to put the truck in 4-wheel drive and make it down the road. Once there are wheel ruts in the snow, things melt significantly [...]
Making simple mocotaugans (crooked knives) in the campfire. It doesn’t take a bunch of infrastructure to make a functional knife. I used to believe it did, but now have 20 years of making simple knives in the campfire under my belt. Vise grips and a hammer are necessary, as is a new file to cut [...]
We woke up to a beaver sunning itself on the pond ice. It spent the whole day hanging around before swimming down the stream after dark.
Snow is finally melting. Still too much of it on the road to drive in, but the fields are just about snow-free. See you in a few months, snow. Now bring on the bugs!
Studying the natural world adds depth and richness to life. In this episode Ben, Christopher and I discuss our nature study curriculum as set forth in First Person Ecology. Our method is a blend of academic study and personal experience, with the goal being to create a series of field guides that you carry around [...]
History is rarely hands-on, but traveling old canoe routes is history you can experience in person. Connecting watersheds, traveling to distant lakes or regions, poring over maps; I love all of it. The romance of hanging up the truck keys for a year and traveling by my own power is a fantasy I’ve entertained often. [...]
Through adversity comes growth. So far this spring, mother nature has provided great opportunities for growth. The first few weeks of our spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester are the hardest few weeks of our calendar year. The snows are still deep, the streams are swollen, and getting around can be very difficult on deep, slushy snow [...]
JMB alumnus Doug Dickens is hosting a Prehistoric Pottery Workshop with Keith Grenoble at Flood Creek Farm in Southern Maryland. Keith Grenoble has been a product of the Back to the Land movement and developed close ties to Native communities from an early age. Keith started his journey by making stone tools represented in the [...]
We regularly get contacted by young people looking for advice regarding entering the bushcraft industry, which, after being in it full-time for the past 20 years, I can confidently say has changed dramatically during that time. When reality tv came along, all of a sudden the interest in esoteric outdoor skills went through the roof. [...]
Todays post, and all of our other posts, are brought to you by 2 solar panels that provide all of our off-grid electricity. Warm and sunny today and the snow has started to melt.
Episode 35 was recorded in the Guide Shack at the field school at the end of week 1 of the spring, 2018 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. Christopher Russell and I discuss the challenges we faced during the first week (spoiler alert: deep snow), bushcraft as resiliency in a changing world and the new Journeyman certification student [...]
Snowshoeing out to the road this morning to do some errands in town. With so much snow left on the ground it’s tough to believe the lupines will be blooming in two months. Spring still seems like a long way off, although it’s coming quickly.
Systems are what make camp run smoothly. When running a course off-grid there often aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. As a result we’ve developed systems that use minimal time for maximum results. Nowhere is this more important than with food. Convenience foods aren’t an option in camp. If you wait [...]
Day four of the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. We’re working on permanent shelters. This morning we’re peeling the bark on the base logs. We’re doing a lot of axe work, clearing a quarter acre. And we’re still on snowshoes.
Day 3 of the WBS. Because there’s so much snow, we’re having to improvise. Two of our instructors are staying in a canvas tent set up under the pavilion, as shown in the video.
Day 2 of the spring, 2018 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. Day 1 of our new vlog. Still lots of snow on the ground here.
Aroostook river is still locked up in ice and we’re still on snowshoes waiting for spring to arrive. Day 2 of the spring ‘18 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. #fulltanglifestyle
Today was the official unveiling of the new Jack Mountain Bushcraft School Journeyman Certification Workbook, a 316 page tome written by Ben Spencer over the winter. It’s big, detailed and ambitious, and just in time for the beginning of our 20th year. It’s existence has been rumored for several weeks, but was not confirmed until [...]
Spring semester starts today. 4 feet of snow on the road. Time for plan B.
From the spring, 2015, Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, a hike up Deboullie Mountain in the North Maine Woods; a beautiful and remote spot.
Osprey bringing food back to the nest. As the ice recedes on Rust Pond, the birds are showing back up. I watched some mergansers this morning, and saw a bald eagle yesterday.
Watching the sun set over some open water tonight. Beautiful. The ice isn’t gone, but it is going.
How much land does a man need, and what should he do with that land when he gets it? In episode 34 of the JMB Podcast Ed Butler, Christopher Russell and I discuss a simple, low-tech life on the land. I recount a story by Leo Tolstoy titled “How Much Land Does A Man Need” [...]
We’ve had numerous calls recently regarding our pending articulation agreement with the University Of Maine At Presque Isle (UMPI). We’re still working on the process and plan to have everything set up in time for the fall (’18) semester. We understand that people have deadlines and are doing all that we can to expedite the [...]
Flying to northern Maine is about to change. The airport in Presque Isle (PQI) has had daily flights to Boston for several years with PenAir. After a recent change, they are planning to discontinue the PenAir service to Boston and add daily flights on United Airlines from Presque Isle to Newark, NJ beginning on July [...]
Interesting article from the CBC on graduate students mapping the traditional canoe routes. Here’s the link. Photo above is a map of traditional canoe routes of New Brunswick. Our field school on the Aroostook is on it. From the article: The Wabanaki are made up of the Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Abenaki nations stretching [...]
I’m not sure whether I believe in magic, but I believe in magical moments. For me they are those moments on the trail where everything is good and seems as it should be and all is right with the world. It’s why I go back over and over, and have made a 20-year career out [...]
If you check out our Master Calendar, you’ll notice a change. Programs are now organized into terms, which are blocks of programs organized around seasonally-appropriate topics. For example, the 2019 Winter Term includes five weeks of winter programming. Each course can still be taken separately, but you can also take an entire term of programs, [...]
The Summer Woodsman course is almost full. As we’re out of open weeks during the summer to run another one, we’re introducing a new course: The Autumn Woodsman Course. We’ve been interested in offering seasonal variants of our popular weeklong woodsman course for a while, and this year we’re taking the leap. Next year (2019) [...]
Public Service Message: Remember to pull those rabbit snares tonight! You don’t want the kids catching you with a rabbit in your snare on Easter morning. You’ll never hear the end of it.
Process Not Product is a familiar phrase at our school. We want to give people the tools to replicate what they do at the field school after they leave. If it were just about ending with a finished product, we might do things differently. But for us it’s about giving people the tools to create [...]
I know What It Takes To Get A Lot Of Views. I’m Just Not Interested In Doing It I’ve been blogging, shooting videos, podcasting, etc., for more than 15 years. In that time, I’ve learned about what makes a popular post. I think I know what it takes to go viral and get a bunch [...]
The vast majority of people who come across our blog will never attend our immersion programs. Regardless, we still want to help them achieve their goals. So here’s some curriculum from our programs that you can use at home. We have seven elements to our programs, one of which is the Self element. It isn’t [...]
Our long-term programs are mentally and emotionally challenging. We want people who attend to be aware of this, and to have the mental and emotional fortitude and maturity needed to be successful here. But this sounds like a platitude you’ve heard before, so let me explain a bit further. People attending our programs want and [...]
After a whole winter of tinkering with the design, we’re excited to announce our updated Yearlong Immersion Program. The old yearlong immersion program is now our Seasonal Immersion Program, consisting of a combination of our Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, Boreal Snowshoe Expedition and Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. This remains the foundation of the new yearlong immersion [...]
Raymond Reitze is a Registered Master Maine Guide and a mentor of mine. This recent video from Seedlight Pictures captures his philosophy of living as part of the natural world. It’s 18:36 long. Here is a link to the video on Vimeo.
There is nothing like the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester available elsewhere. If you want to become proficient at living and traveling by canoe in the wilderness, the best path is to undergo a month on the river working as part of a team under the tutelage of experienced guides. There is simply no other way [...]
In episode 33 of the podcast we discuss a common myth of barehand navigation, the effect of changing air pressure on fish, and gear addiction, evolution and minimum viable kit (MVK). For this episode I was joined by Ed Butler (aka Working Class Woodsman), and for those with sensitive ears we did swear a few [...]
Cree snowshoes in Ouje-Bougoumou on our 2017 trip.
Following the trend of recent years, spots in our programs are filling earlier than ever. Here’s an update on what’s still available, in chronological order. Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, spring 2018 (April-June). 3 spots open. Bonaventure Canoe Expedition, Quebec (June). Full Summer Woodsman (July). 1 spot open. Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester (July-August). 2 spots open. Wilderness [...]
There’s an article featuring Jack Mountain in the Bangor Daily News spring 2018 spring/summer special section outdoors magazine. The article, titled “The Survivor: Deep in the Maine woods, Tim Smith teaches others to survive in the wild”, gives a brief overview of what we do and has enough philosophical nuggets to make it interesting. The [...]
The dates are set for our March, 2019 trip with Cree hunters in northern Quebec; March 1-9. In past years we’ve gone in late January, but next year we’ve got a busy winter semester planned so we’re moving the trip to early March. Taking advantage of the longer days will be an added bonus. Those [...]
New Role: Authentic Marketing Instructor I did a phone interview a while back that the person said they were turning into an article. Then I forgot about it until yesterday, when I saw the article. I like how it turned out. The article is about authentic marketing for schools by an outfit that offers services [...]
Next weekend, March 9-11 (2018), the 26th annual Wilderness Paddlers Gathering will take place at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont. It is put on by Northern Wilderness Travelers Conferences, the same group that runs the Snow Walkers Rendezvous in the fall. I’ll be attending and putting on a workshop titled “The Moveable Feast [...]
During one of the thaws on the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. Photo by Dragan Uzelic.
We’ve decided on the route for the 2018 Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. We’re going with a classic that will follow the Northern Forest Canoe Trail across the crown of Maine. Starting on the Moose River near Jackman, we’ll paddle to Moosehead Lake, where we’ll turn north to Northeast Carry. We’ll carry across to the West [...]
We recorded episode 32 the morning after returning from the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. I was joined by Dragan Uzelac, Blake Towsley and Colin Clifford, and we discussed the expedition as well as the need for a recreational options for veterans. Upon returning home, I purchased the domain FieldOpsInternational.com, and hope to have some sort of [...]
Sunset at the waterhole, sublime. One week to go in our winter wonderland. The group is fuctioning as a team, everyone is contributing, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than tucked in the woods alongside a frozen lake in Aroostook county, Maine. #fulltanglifestyle
When it gets warm we don’t travel, we make things. Dragan and Blake made mokatagens. Low-tech knife making in the field. Getting cold tonight.#fulltanglifestyle
Cooking supper on the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. Having a great time so far. #fulltanglifestyle
View at the road: toboggans, sleds, snowshoes, snowmobile. Winter. #fulltanglifestyle
Guide Shack breakfast on the woodstove. Simple off-grid lifestyle on the Winter Woodsman course. #fulltanglifestyle
Back to the Guide Shack after a day tracking in the woods. The woods life in winter means living on snowshoes. Love this shot of the field school.
Episode 31 of the podcast is about the Primitive Wilderness Living Practicum, a program we facilitate. It’s a 21-day wilderness experience with limited gear, limited food, and a whole lot of learning and personal growth. We’ve had a lot of questions about it recently, so this episode is an attempt to answer them. This is [...]
This discussion has come up a bunch recently, so I wanted to define some terms that I use regarding celebrity outdoorsman and professional outdoorsman. A professional outdoorsman is a person who makes their living guiding, teaching, and otherwise working outdoors. A celebrity outdoorsman is a person who is well known on social media, reality tv [...]
On January 19, 2018 I was interviewed by Gundy on The Big Wild radio show, heard all over the midwest on the radio and the world via their podcasts. We were the first interview on this episode of the show (and the podcast). To listen, go to their website at: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/the-big-wild-011918_121684 You can also download [...]
We recommend an 8-inch, 2 quart dutch oven for the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, and for any other field school program. Ideally, it will have a flanged lid but no legs. If yours has legs, no big deal as these make it easier to cook in the field. But it also makes it more difficult to [...]
That water is cold! Loved this clip – like an old-school silent film.
2018 marks our 19th year of multi-week snowshoe and toboggan expeditions. In a world where bushcraft is becoming more about the gear and knives and celebrity outdoorsmen, I’m thankful for winter expeditions. In the cold, living and traveling in the forest, the extraneous fluff falls away. What’s left is authentic and real. And that’s getting [...]
Facebook, Youtube, And The Rest Can Keep Their Private Sandboxes We hit peak social media a few years ago and have been on the downward slant since then. Time spent on social media feels like an arms race of narcissism, and those are the good days. And now they tell us they’re changing the rules [...]
A walk around a remote camp on the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition.
Life on our dirt road is exceptionally beautiful today after yesterday’s snow storm. Photo: Lucky the wonder pooch in the woods across the road.
It’s 2018 and we’re finally retiring our old rotary phone. Our recent podcast (episode 30 featuring Sam Larson) was a turning point for our podcast. Prior to recording it, all of our podcasts had been recorded in person. As such geography was a huge factor in when we could record. For episode 30 we entered [...]
Episode 30 of our podcast featured Sam Larson. It’s the first episode we’ve recorded remotely (ie. not in the same room), as well as the first episode where we’ve recorded video, as seen above. If you’re looking for just the audio, go here. Sam Larson is the founder and owner of Woodsong Wilderness Outfitters, was [...]
In this episode I talk with Sam Larson. He’s the founder and owner of Woodsong Wilderness Outfitters, was the runner-up of season 1 of the TV show Alone, and is a Jack Mountain Bushcraft School alumnus. This is the first podcast we’ve also recorded as a video. You can see it at: http://blog.jackmtn.com/sam-larson-video-from-podcast-episode-30/ Links: Woodsong [...]
Snowshoes are lashed to the toboggans and we’re having a leisurely stroll down the lake. Enjoy days like these because they don’t happen often.
From a past Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. A participant fixed a broken axe handle in the field by wrapping it with saplings and lashing it together. It worked great. In the background is a canvas tent that was lived in for the winter. It’s not one of our expedition tents. In the photo below are my [...]
This fantastic video was shot on a JMBS alumi trip and assembled by Paul Sveum. If watching this doesn’t make you want to do an epic winter trip, you’re on the wrong website.
Snowshoeing across the crown of Maine on a cloudless morning. Not all expedition mornings are perfect. This one was.
18 years old and still getting the job done. Our 2 Egyptian cotton Ungava tents made by our friends at Tentsmiths. They have introduced many people to the sublime beauty of the winter trail.
Photo: Flooding a piece of cotton T-shirt with Ambroid glue and smearing it around with a dirty sock. Below are three stories about fixing canvas boats in the field. The moral of the stories is that you should know how to repair the craft you use. The more remote the trip, the better you should [...]
Cold here this week, but not snowshoe expedition cold where you hug the cook fire.
We’re bombarded with negativity and bad news in the modern world. So many alerts about all the deaths and evil and things to be afraid of. I’ve been moderating the information that gets attention from me for a while now, and I’m better off as a result. But I still read some news daily when [...]
From a past Boreal Snowshoe Expedition, the morning sun shining through the Balsam Fir trees. The warming effect of the sun is dramatic in the morning.
A well-used tent stove can keep you cozy and warm, a little home in the frozen forest.
Traffic jam on the Aroostook river.
Our new college partnership with the University of Maine at Presque Isle, also known as UMPI, is the focus for episode 29. Christopher Russell and I discuss what this means for students and the school. We’re putting together a new website that will explain academic options for college and gap year students at BushcraftCollege.com. Links: [...]
This past week I successfully passed the test to become a registered Maine sea kayak guide. It was the culmination of likely the longest testing process I’ve ever known. Let me explain. In 2000 I took and passed the written test to become a sea kayak guide. The Maine department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife [...]
First spring trip with newly carved paddles. Making the gear you use results in a whole different level of connection.
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.
Membership has its priviledges.
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.
Drying snowshoe bindings while cooking dinner on the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition.
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 [...]
Two JMBS instructors by the river at the field school. It’s a long road getting your skills to the level where you’re ready to teach with us.
Our semester isn’t all misty morning canoeing; there’s a lot of academic work as well. Studying plants in the field here.
One of a long line of amazing campsites in northern Maine. If this looks like heaven you should think about paddling with us.
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.
Misty morning on a remote lake. The canoe was small black spot that appeared to be floating in the mist.
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
Wood canvas canoe on a recent river trip. This boat has run a lot of whitewater. #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 [...]
Field school is quiet and empty. Long-term program 41 and year 19 are complete. Time to rest.
I’m working with Field & Stream Magazine doing a question and answer segment about survival and bushcraft. Check out the first installment and submit your questions in the comments. Questions are reviewed by the editors and might be included in future editions. Here’s the link: fieldandstream.com/survivalquestions
Leftover ends from paddle blanks, 1 new board and some screws: new shave horse. Boxed ends makes it rugged. #fulltanglifestyle
Fleshing moose hides, braintanning step 1. Wilderness Bushcraft Semester week 7. #fulltanglifestyle
Starting WBS week 6 carving netting needles. Will be making nets/hammocks on the river.
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 [...]
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 [...]
In episode 25 we talk about crafting as a necessity for a self-reliant lifestyle, touching on three reasons why craft matters: freedom from consumerism, deep knowledge and appreciation of the land, and confidence that you can make what you need.
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 [...]
Surging toward the finish line with the canoe paddle project. Remote paddling trip next week.
Cold cracking. Epoxied three of our royalex boats over the weekend that cracked last winter. Fleet back at 100%. #fulltanglifestyle
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
We talk about our approach teaching the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester course, discuss the role of framing, how honesty is crucial, the difference between teaching kids (pedagogy) and adults (androgogy), as well as recap what we did during week 1 of the fall ’17 WBS.
A brisk 42 degrees at the field school this morning. Wearing my orange tuque for the first time this season. #fulltanglifestyle
Morning meeting during week 1 of the fall 2017 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, our 41st long-term immersion program.
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 [...]
The ocean was like glass as we paddled toward Rum Key on the Maine coast.
Great trip paddling near Acadia National Park. Love spending time on the ocean, and the weather was perfect.
Living on the trail for 4 weeks out of a canoe teaches you a lot about gear: what you need, what you don’t, and how to pack efficiently.
Paddling across Grand Lake Mattagammon during the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. Four weeks of professional training and experience for wilderness guides and expedition leaders. College accredited, GI Bill approved. Next WCES begins in July, 2018.
No Filter. Drinking it raw and untreated.
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.
Loading canoes in the morning on the St. Croix river.
Being able to stop and hold your position in a rapid is a critical skill for a river guide. A pole gives you this ability.
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.
Professor Paul Sveum carrying his boat up for another run through the rips.
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 [...]
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.
Afternoon spent practicing heel hook self-rescue in the kayak. Will be testing for a sea kayak guide license this fall.
Pails hung over the fire on a spring trip. During the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester everyone learns to manage the fire and cook for themselves.
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 [...]
Professor Paul Sveum with is wood canvas canoe at the field school. The area behind him is now part of Grand Lac Samsquanch. Found this one when going through some old photos.
Field school riverside teaching area, where the blue and white trails meet. We’ve got over 3 miles of trails at the field school.
20′ wood canvas canoe under a maple on the Maine and New Brunswick border.
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.
Canoeing in the mist on the Bonaventure river in Quebec. One of the most stunningly beautiful places I’ve ever been. Clear fast water, Acadian forest and mountains.
Map of our local canoe routes in northern Maine. Not many blank spots on the map left to explore after 19 years.
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 [...]
In episode 23 of the podcast Ben Spencer and I discussed what veterans attending the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School using the GI Bill ® or Vocational Rehab need to know about using their benefits, how to prepare for a course, and what to expect while on a course. For our list of topics we covered [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Doug Dickens, Jack Mountain alumnus and enthusiast of all things primitive, will be hosting Keith Grenoble at his farm in Southern Maryland at the end of the month for a primitive pottery class. Keith is well known for teaching primitive clay pottery techniques (and other primitive skills) across the East Coast. They will be transforming raw [...]
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 [...]
It’s mid-March, the snow is melting, the lakes are getting slushy, and it’s tough to get around. What do you do outdoors this time of year? In episode 19 of the podcast I’m joined by several friends to discuss the seasonally appropriate activities of woodsman in northern New England. We also talk about whether technology [...]
The people we work with want to get better. Better at poling a canoe in whitewater, better at lighting fires by friction, better at using an axe efficiently, etc. During our programs we work with them daily to achieve this. But training skills and abilities are only half of the equation; the other half is [...]
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 [...]
What if you could do and learn the basic skills of bushcraft while enjoying a fun weekend with modern accommodations? We asked ourselves that a few years ago, and came up with our lodge-based introduction to bushcraft weekend. It’s designed to be a fun introduction to the skills of the forest coupled with a weekend [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Start the new year off right with the annual wild game dinner hosted by our friends at The Woodsman School. Located in Wakefield, NH, a short drive from the seacoast. I’ll be in attendance and hope to meet some new friends there. If you’ve ever wanted to start eating wild game, this is a great [...]
We’re adding a second Boreal Snowshoe Expedition session for 2017 running February 20th to March 3rd. It’s a 12-day remote snowshoe expedition with a focus on guide training and winter bushcraft. If you want to learn how to live out on the trail in the cold, learn to lead and teach others in winter, and [...]
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, [...]
View from the summit of Copplecrown mtn. Its the big mtn in the Jack Mtn logo. NH is beautiful.
Misty morning on the pond.
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 [...]
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 [...]
In the woods today. Leaves are mostly down, cool but not cold, no bugs. Heaven must be like this.
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 [...]
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.
Bright red maples as seen from my canoe. Autumn is stunning.
Snubbing Little Falls on the St. Croix (downeast) during the fall, 2016 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester.
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 [...]
Coffee before sunrise on a recent trip. It always seems to take longer to boil when you're standing around watching it.
Lining into a pool, Kicking Horse Pass on the Bonaventure river, Quebec.
Coffee And Water. Making coffee and disinfecting drinking water on the trail.
Paddling past Maine's highest point, Mt. Katahdin, on a recent trip.
Lining on the St. Croix river, downeast.
Water break on the St. Croix river. Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, fall 2016.