Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog

Welcome to the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog. Since 2006 we’ve been blogging about bushcraft, education, expedition leadership and the woods life. You can view the archives by category or by date under the Archives tab in the menu at the top of the page.


Tim in the canoe, May 2023

My gear is packed, the van is gassed up, and in a few hours we’re headed out on the river for the rest of the month. The plan is to canoe two different river systems, increasing the challenges as the skill and experience level of the group progresses. We will have one resupply day to [...]

Brook trout roasting by the fire

The seventh day of May is a personal holiday for me in remembrance of an amazing day in the life of a rural kid. Some of the details are lost to the past, but let me tell you what I remember. It was 1983 in rural New Hampshire, I was in the sixth grade, and [...]

Photo of new VA medical facility in Presque Isle

Yesterday they opened a new VA medical clinic in Presque Isle. The new facility replaces the old clinic in Caribou and features modern facilities. The new facility will be a significant benefit to the veterans we work with. From the article at thecounty.me: The 7,500-square-foot facility at 732 Main St. replaces the VA outpatient clinic [...]

sunrise in the canyons on the Rio Grande

I’ve been busy getting ready for our first field school program of the year. In The week and a half that I’ve been home, I went from getting vehicles stuck in the snow to bare ground. A lot of water has moved across the landscape. I only had to clear two trees from the road [...]

Boulderyard In The Desert

I recently vacated Texas and made the jump for home in Aroostook County, Maine. We have a 15 passenger van for getting people onto canoe trips, hauling trailers, etc. Last fall I took out a bunch of seats, put a cot in the back, and lived like a king while traveling. #vanlife I took it [...]

Camp Scene

Camp scene on the Rio Grande, Texas/Mexico border

An evening camp scene from our first night on the Rio Grande lower canyons trip. It was a big stone beach that backed up to a small field, and only a few miles from the put-in. We had great sunset light here, as well as room to spread out. Because the water contained a lot [...]

Students under the pavilion working on projects.

We’ve had a bunch of registrations recently and I wanted to let people know where we are with regard to available spots in our spring, summer and fall immersion programs for 2024. 2 Spots Remaining. Spring Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester (4-weeks) 2 Spots Remaining. Summer Wilderness Bushcraft Semester (9-weeks) 4 Spots Remaining. Fall Wilderness Bushcraft [...]

Updating Our Contact Info

brook trout being held up for a photo

I have updated my contact info our our Contact page. As time has gone by, the phone has become less and less useful to me. Spam texts, spam calls, dealing with Google Voice, etc., have all made it a less-than-pleasant experience. More like an annoyance. So in a bid for simplification and to avoid the [...]

Unloading gear at a remote camp site

It can be expensive to buy all the gear you need to participate in outdoor activities, especially when you’re starting from scratch. If you’re coming to the field school, you can rent most of the camping gear needed to participate. This is a great option for those coming for a few days to a few [...]

paddling a canoe photo

I’m adding a stop on my trip north after the Rio Grande trip in March; A Buffalo river trip in Arkansas in April. In 2008 we had a student on a semester course who lived off the grid near the Buffalo river in Arkansas. When we were out on the Allagash he told me several [...]

swinging an axe

I don’t like to comment on gear until I’ve had it for a few years and used it hard. And I am wary of gear reviews on the internet. Now, after several hard years of use, I’m ready to spill the beans on something I bring with me on all trips. (Note: I don’t get [...]

crossing headwater lakes in a canoe

We are (slightly) changing the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester for 2024. First, we’re adding a new subtitle to reflect what the course is, the Maine Guide Traditional Canoe Expedition Leadership 4-Week Training Course. I considered changing the course name, but we’ve been running this program for a lot of years, and changing the title would [...]

DownEast Magazine cover

It’s been ten years since Brian Kevin’s article The Survivors, about military veterans attending the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, was published in DownEast Magazine. Of all the media coverage we’ve had over the years, this article is my favorite. The author came and camped with us, got to know the people he was writing about, and [...]

Chopping a strainer out of the river.

You can follow us on the Fediverse at: @blog.jackmtn.com@blog.jackmtn.com I’m not usually one to prognosticate about the future of the web, but I am often thinking about how to make our stuff available to our audience, and to give good advice to our students and those just starting out running a business. For years I [...]

Compost Toilet Handbook

Compost Toilet Handbook

I just read The Compost Toilet Handbook by Joseph Jenkins. If you are coming to the field school you shoulld read it because this is the dry toilet system we’ve been using since 1996. I still recommend that teacher read the humanure handbook as well, but this book separates out the how-to information from the [...]

picture of Midwest Homes For Pets bowl

The JMBS pot system is designed to be functional and economical. The biggest item lacking is a properly-sized bowl for eating out of that nests with the rest of the kit, because the 6-inch pie tins, while they work great as pot lids, are not sized well for use as an eating bowl for an [...]

Mors Kochanski Certificate

When I first met Mors Kochanski in 1996 he showed those of us on the course his collection of books. He had a lot of them. At the time he had been teaching a course for the University of Alberta for 25 years or so, had written extensively, and was a lifelong student of everything [...]

Foliage from a canoe trip this fall.

The woods are white now, covered in snow. Watching the changing moods, the changing light of the natural world has been one of my lifelong passions. I work to become a better photographer in order to share what I see, but the images my eyes see are often not well-represented with what my camera sees. [...]

hauling sleds across a frozen lake

It has snowed off and on for the last five days, and as I’m writing this it is -6 degrees F and there is 8 inches of fresh snow on the ground. Winter has definitely arrived, and I’m getting excited for winter programs in February. This photo was taken a while back, showing a line [...]

cover photo of The Humanure Handbook

Maybe the rest of the world is catching on. Here’s a link to an article about the use of human urine as fertilizer to contribute to food security: phys.org. From the article, :”Urine contains nitrogen and phosphorus, two essential nutrients for plant growth. Urine can thus serve as an almost cost-free and locally available nutrient [...]

Unloading on a remote beach

Many of our alunmi have become Registered Maine Guides. A guide license is necessary in Maine to receive any form of payment for your services in the field. It is a state license which is granted at the end of a testing process. In recent years students on long courses have tried to get all [...]

usda hardiness zone map

The USDA recently updated it’s hardiness zone map with data from the last few years, and northern Maine is getting warmer. On the older maps, Masardis was zone 3B. On the updated map, we’re zone 4A. It’s an indicator of changing times. It also opens us up to a wider variety of perennials we can [...]

Lighting a woodstove in a shelter on a snowy day

It has been cold and snowy in Aroostook County this week for the Autumn Woodsman course. We’re past the halfway mark on the course, and thus far we have covered a lot of ground, including axemanship, fire making and management, fire by friction, navigation, hot tents and stoves, woodstove lighting and management, and a bunch [...]

a small shelter next to a long fire, no sleeping bag

A small shelter next to a long fire, spending the night with no sleeping bag in the cold. The details all matter: The size of the fire, the quality of the fuel, the width of the bed, the distance from the edge of the fire to the back of the shelter, the overhead volume of [...]

image of night fires in front of shelters for no sleeping bag exercise

One of the shelters students spend the night in on the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester is one with no insulation, just a fire to keep warm. This image is from that night a few weeks ago. It is a great learning experience with regard to the use of fire to keep warm, the science involved with [...]

Austin Film Festival schedule

I’m currently in Austin, Texas for a week visiting family. My son is a freshman in the film program at the University of Texas at Austin. Today a film of his is being shown at the Austin Film Festival as part of their Young Filmmakers Competition. So I’m spending the day as a proud father [...]

Tim on CNN, screenshot

I was interviewed on CNN last night, on the show Laura Coates Live. They wanted a Registered Master Maine Guide and survival instructor perspective on the fugitive from the Lewiston shootings, potentially hiding out in the woods. It was an interesting experience. Here’s how things like this work, or at least how it worked for [...]

Fire alongside a remote lake in northern Maine

It is Friday of week 8 (of 9) on the fall, 2023 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. Everyone has been hard at work and the finish line is coming into view. What remains to finish are some practical exams, the solo, and a night spent in front of a fire with no sleeping bag or blanket. The [...]

Peak northern Maine foliage shot from the Deboullie mountain fire tower.

We’re at peak foliage in northern Maine right now. The nights are cooling off and it feels like fall. I have been seeing a lot of animals as they get ready for the cold season. Yesterday morning I jumped a deer while riding my bike, and in the evening I saw a lynx crossing the [...]

Tim in the canoe, early spring

I picked up a new piece of software called Retrobatch that batch processes photos and went through all the old hard drives full of photos to make an archive. My rough count is around 37,000 images that I’ve shot over the years. Not all of them are mine; maybe 1000 were taken by others, but [...]

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