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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Survival in the Wilderness

Well my husband and I had a great time today. We got to the Magnolia trail up past Folsom Dam where we met the instructor Doug Huffman, who has taught Special Forces all over the world how to survive in the wilderness. There were 10 of us altogether.

We started walking on the trail about 8: 15 a.m. What a beautiful morning and day it was. Clear skies, very quiet wind. First we went past a little stream where he reminded us never to drink the water no matter how pure it looked unless you boil it first, etc, as there is commonly pesticides and worse from up stream in most areas. Then he showed us many plants that thrive in riparian areas (interface between land and a stream), such as black alder, which can be used to induce vomiting if you discover you have eaten something bad, and blackberrie (ONLY the tender young shoots) to help diarrhea (older leaves are actually very toxic, so caution is important). I ate a fresh blackberry next to a small stream and it was very tasty. We discussed Laurels, which are bay leaves. They are very strong, but tiny bits of the leaves can be placed in boiling water as part of the soup making process. You can line your tent and sleeping bag with the leaves as most insects won't walk across them.

I am simplifing many of the stuff he said but he did give us an exellent handout. Thank goodness, as there were so many things discussed there's no way I could absorb them all! The only problem with it is there aren't any photos, but they can be found online and in books.

We also discussed Curly Dock, dandelion (which is one of the most beneficial plants, as you can eat any part of it anytime and be fine), Evening Primrose, which flowers taste delicious. We saw fiddle necks, cedar trees, Oregon grapes, horsetail, mints, mugwort and mullein. Mullein is pretty fasciating, as you can use the soft leaves as toilet paper if you need to, and then the stalk can be used to make excellent arrows for your bow and arrow. You take the seeds and crush them and put them in a bandana, and swirl it into water where fish are located, and the fish will be poisoned and you can then just take them out and eat them (after cooking, as the toxin goes away when you cook them).

Lots of the items could be used as teas for various purposes too, and he made a point of saying that nothing we ingest should be eaten in more than an ounce (a tiny handful) at a time as our bodies aren't used to these things.

There is Willow, which you can chew on to make an aspirin product, or use as a tea for the same reason, and the branches are great for making baskets, arrow shafts, tools, chopsticks, etc.,

Before I forget he also discussed how drinking hot water with honey from the region you live in, along with a tsp of cinnamon can cure allergies. I'm going to try that one!

We also got a lot of basic survival skills, with a list of over 40 items to be sure to take with us at all times...which works out fine because the entire list isonly 1 1/2 pounds! so it's very easy to pack. We learned what trees can be used to make good shelters, how to keep warm in snow, how to track people by their footprints, and more.

There are tons of classes that Doug teaches, and he is also forming groups where for $35 a couple or single you can come up to Placerville and learn about survival in all of it's forms, from home security to personal security to wilderness training, and much more. We are going to do this, even if we don't start until after Christmas.

Here are his absolute essentials:

Shelter, which is to be constructed the moment you arrive in the wilderness for a stay, or the moment you realize you are lost there., then water, which should be purified/boiled, then a method to procure fire, an extra day supply of food/snacks, signal devices, like a whistle and mirror, a good map that you know how to read, GPS whatever, and a good multi tool pocket knife setup. Of course you also need a form of first aid supplies, and a good flashlight or lantern, and then good seasonal clothing, including sunscreen, sunglasses, a good hat, poncho (he recommends black trash bags), and good gloves because some of the stuff, liie wild blackberries, can really hurt your skin!

We got ourselves some walking sticks and I got to say, I doubt I would have done very well today without it.

I recommend Doug without reservation. He is funny, totally professional, and extremely knowledgeable. I wish I could tell you .10% of what he said! We discussed as we walked along these trails for about 4 miles or so. The training dates are available on his webpage http://www.sierrasos.com/.

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