Going out for a night is easy, all you need is your money and being dressed up for the occasion to fit with the society model. Some people even try to take as little as possible to make sure they don’t lose anything. Funny enough, I did the same thing but in a different environment : the bush. My concern wasn’t about losing things but more about what do I need to go out there? How much, what gear? How much knowledge so I don’t put myself in a survival situation? Just like anybody else I don’t like to be the only one dressed up as the 90’s at a black and white theme party. Which is why we need to understand what is the meaning of bushcraft first. It’s about how we can use our knowledge instead of pre-made tools, it weights less and you can find it all around your surroundings. Our instructor told us a 1000 times, “I’m not telling you how to do it, I’m only giving you the range of tools you can use, then it’s your job to match the tool with the situation”.
That’s exactly how I feel today, after 4 days of intensive bushcraft experiences. My head is overwhelmed with the many new skills I just started developing and the various knowledge about trees and bush itself. I don’t think I have all the tools yet but at least the seeds are there. All I need to do now is to water, looking after and drain as much as sun as possible for them. Because this is definitely on my list of things I want to improve. Not only for my personal interest, or my investment in becoming a guide, it’s also part of my everyday environment and in order to be more confident and in harmony with it I need to understand it better.
You may wonder why it is so intense. Well my first answer would be because you have no more landmark around. Every basic thing you want to do has to be done differently and it can be scary and confusing. When you walk in a city you don’t pay attention to all the conversation around you, the different colors or smells you pick up because you are over stimulated. In the wild, it’s your guidance. You need your 5 senses to understand what’s around you, the things you can’t see at first like prints are only because your eyes are not trained to spot them, but they are all around. That concept goes with anything, trust me or not. You can’t see any water, however by looking at the trees you could know where to dig to find some, if you had the right “tool” in your head” you could. Or what if I’m cold at night, I had no idea I could wrap a hot stone in a wool tee shirt to make it a home made water bottle.
So think about all those things you do all day long without thinking about it at all : things like drinking water, eating, going to the toilet, sleeping and being warm enough. Now imagine you have no switch to turn on the heater, no tap to turn on, no fast food around the corner and no toilets available, what do you do? I’m not going to write down here every way of doing it I’m just going to tell you that they exist. You can do all those basic things with the right “toolbox” and by doing so you will realize how many skills you had no idea you had so far. Personally lighting a fire wasn’t my favorite activity until that course, until I understood what a fire needs, what is the physics involved in a combustion, or that conduction is the best way to light something on fire. So once you understand how it works matching the right tool to make it work is much easier, even though the skill to make it happen needs time and practice to become a master at it. So I’m going to stop writing right now and go practice my feather carving.