I went for a nice walk in the valley yesterday - it was cold, and I'd forgotten to bring my gloves. But I warmed up soon enough.
The field where the deer bed down at night had all the signs of deer, except for what I wanted most - an actual deer which I could photograph. Perhaps they were off at the shops, taking advantage of the Black Friday sales.
I settled myself in some pine woods, out of the biting wind, and opened my rucksack and laid out my wool blanket.
I wandered around slowly to see what I could see.
This femur belonged to a bird - certainly not a chicken.
I quickly found evidence of deer. This clump of deer hair had snagged on some reeds.
And these lovely little treats glistened under an overcast sky. I learned the reason that ungulates like deer, and moose etc... have pellet shaped poops. It is because their large intestine is so narrow, in order that they can pack a huge length of it within their abdominal cavities, so that their digestive systems can extract the maximum nutrition available from the sometimes sparse food stuffs that they can find. And with it being so narrow, little beads of fecal matter end up being squeezed along. So now you know. Knowledge is power, so they say. You could bring this up at a cocktail party, and thrill your audience.
A deer print.
More deer poop led me along a game trail.
I stopped after a while so I could return to the pine woods, but I could have tracked this deer much deeper into the valley.
The cold winter temperatures are beginning to take a toll on the last of the fungi - this Dryad's Saddle was looking a little broken down.
Not sure what this gilled mushroom is, but it was frozen solid.
A very nice looking specimen. Frozen solid.
Around the ovate ("shaped like half an egg") caps of this pair of mushies looks to be a filamentous membrane.
This Pear-shaped Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme) has turned brown and is full of spores. A section of the pine forest was littered with these.
I looked about and located some straight poles, and cut them with my carbon-steel Mora.
I gathered four of them together - each about 5 feet long and half an inch in diameter.
They were flexible and suited my needs.
I laid them down in a square shape.
Using plastic cable ties, I secured the corners of the square.
I used two each corner to give it strength. Normally I would use some cotton string or something, but I thought I'd give these cable ties a try after seeing a survival video where the fellow swears by these. I guess they're pretty idiot proof, and can be incredible strong.
I got a sheet of high-density polyethylene, and proceeded to construct a large shelter pane.
I used duct tape which I had removed from the roll and folded around and around on itself. I always carry a chunk of this. You can easily tear duct tape with your teeth, and you can create narrow long strips of it for binding items. The seal is waterproof, making it ideal for tarp or tent repairs.
After a few minutes of faffing around, I broke the whole thing down. My sheets were too small in dimension. I need to buy a large roll of the plastic and give it another try. I guess these hikes are all about trying things out, so that if I'm in the bush somewhere, I'll have practiced and made perfect any skills. As they say, Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance: the 6-Ps.
I came across a few wonderful looking specimens of Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarium) growing on a dead birch tree.
This is the one from which you can harvest Amadou for fire lighting. Lovely stuff.
After a while I wandered over to the river, and saw that the water level was pretty high. We had received a lot of rain in recent days.
Climbing higher, the bare autumn branches revealed the shape of a bend in the valley.
This is Horsetail (Equisetum arvense).
"Horsetail is a "herbal remedy dating back to at least ancient Roman and Greek medicine. It was used traditionally to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds, and treat tuberculosis and kidney problems. The name Equisetum is derived from the Latin roots equus, meaning "horse," and seta, meaning "bristle."
Horsetail contains silicon, which plays a role in strengthening bone. For that reason, it is sometimes suggested as a treatment for osteoporosis. It is also used as a diuretic, and as an ingredient in come cosmetics. However, very few studies have looked at horsetail's effect in humans.
Horsetail is descended from huge, tree-like plants that thrived 400 million years ago during the Paleozoic era. A close relative of the fern, horsetail is a non-flowering weed found throughout parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. The plant is a perennial (returns each year) with hollow stems and shoots that look like asparagus at first. As the plant dries, silica crystals that form in the stems and branches look like feathery tails and give the plant a scratching effect. That accounts for its historic use in polishing metal, particularly pewter."
This old clump of mushrooms might be Jack o' Lantern (Omphalotus illudens)
"The Jack O'Lantern mushroom is sometimes confused with chanterelles--especially when it appears to be growing terrestrially rather than from wood (see the top illustration). However, chanterelles rarely grow in dense clusters, and feature false gills, while the Jack O'Lantern is usually clustered and features true gills."I have mistaken fresh specimens of this for chanterelles.
Finally, I started my return home. I passed by this pine tree, which had recently exuded some resinous sap. I scooped one of the blobs off the tree with a stick which I had trimmed with my knife, and set fire to it on top of a pile of small kindling sticks. It sputtered and splashed molten fire and smelled like rich turpentine as it warmed my hands as I got ready to stomp back through the trails to my home.
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