Wilderness Bushcraft Semester Week 4 Begins

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 from their winter slumber is something I look forward to every year. When you incorporate them into your diet as wild foods, they take on extra importance. So far we’ve been eating coltsfoot, mustard greens, dandelion greens and daisy leaves. Soon the fiddleheads will be up, and they’ll be a big part of our diet until they get too big (between 12 and 18 inches tall) and tough. Because of the high water and flooding, all of our fiddlehead spots have been underwater for a few weeks. But this week, with no rain forecast and the snow gone, the rivers will start dropping fast.

As the rivers drop, we’ll start the canoeing component of the course. We’ll be out on the pond tomorrow working on basic poling and paddling, with each of the students having a newly-carved paddle to propel them through the water. The photo above shows students carving their paddles using simple hand tools, which is the best way to learn the process (in my opinion).

Also as the rivers drop, the fishing is as good as it gets all year. Our region is defined by native brook trout, and as the water warms they become much more active feeders. As the water is still cold, they’re sluggish, but as it gets above the mid-50’s, it’s on! We’ll be delving into fly casting in the coming days, and it’s great to have the pond right in camp to practice on.

Today we’ll learn a new shelter that’s appropriate when in a forest without flexible saplings. Each student will build one, then spend four consecutive nights in it. In my opinion, if you spend any fewer than four consecutive nights in it, you don’t really know it.

That’s what’s happening around here. Wherever you are, get out there and experience the season!

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