Bushcraft Course with Mors Kochanski - A Walk in the Woods

I have been blogging about a bushcraft course taught by Mors Kochanski at Tim Smith's Jack Mountain Bushcraft & Guide Service in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire that I attended a couple of weekends ago.

On Sunday, the weather had cleared up - the remnants of the hurricane that had blown up into New Hampshire was pushed out to sea by the winds overnight, revealing the multitude of stars from my sleeping bag beneath an open tarp.

In the morning we all awoke and assembled by the fire in the middle of the field between the trees. Off we wandered then into the woods again and learned more about the plants and ways of the woods.

We hardly went a few feet without Mors stopping to identify some sort of medicinal, edible, noxious or otherwise useful plant.

I nibbled on partridge berries, and plantain seeds. I poked at mushrooms and fungi, puffed puffballs and cut open the blisters on balsam bark to smell and touch the high-fractionate sap used to salve wounds and burns.

Finding our way through the woods was easy but by yourself in the deep backcountry it is advisable to make a trail, or a blaze - by marking trees, and ensuring you can always see at least two markings at once, you should endeavor to make every third blaze on the other side of the tree line, in case you get turned around by accident.

I have gotten lost (but soon found my way out of the woods) within a couple hundred feet of a camp in the woods, it is ridiculously easy to get lost. Thinking you cannot get lost is a mark of hubris - hence careful preparation and ensuring that you have the proper supplies on your person at all times - means for fire, shelter, and water at least for 72 hours.

In the high-stakes bush, and in the case of extremis you should only do something if you know it for certain. Many mistakes happen when you use common sense.

It's strange - we are always taught to rely on common sense when in a strange situation. But in the backcountry, it is critical to slow down, and do everything you can to stave off panic before invoking 'common sense'. Sit down. Make your body relax. Acquaint yourself with the surroundings. Calm yourself, then calmly proceed and only in a manner that you know for certain.

More photos and scribblings on my trip soon again.



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