Recently Found Bushcraft, Camping & Outdoor Links

Here is a roundup of some bushcraft, camping & outdoor links that I found out on the web:
Cheers,

Mungo

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Pictures from a Cold Walk in the Woods

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
I settled myself in some pine woods, out of the biting wind, and opened my rucksack and laid out my wool blanket.

Late November Hike in the Valley
I wandered around slowly to see what I could see.

Late November Hike in the Valley
This femur belonged to a bird - certainly not a chicken.

Late November Hike in the Valley
I quickly found evidence of deer. This clump of deer hair had snagged on some reeds.

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
A deer print.

Late November Hike in the Valley
More deer poop led me along a game trail.

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in 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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
Not sure what this gilled mushroom is, but it was frozen solid.

Late November Hike in the Valley
A very nice looking specimen. Frozen solid.

Late November Hike in the Valley
Around the ovate ("shaped like half an egg") caps of this pair of mushies looks to be a filamentous membrane.

Late November Hike in the Valley
This Pear-shaped Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme) has turned brown and is full of spores. A section of the pine forest was littered with these.

Late November Hike in the Valley
I looked about and located some straight poles, and cut them with my carbon-steel Mora.

Late November Hike in the Valley
I gathered four of them together - each about 5 feet long and half an inch in diameter.

Late November Hike in the Valley
They were flexible and suited my needs.

Late November Hike in the Valley
I laid them down in a square shape.

Late November Hike in the Valley
Using plastic cable ties, I secured the corners of the square.

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
I got a sheet of high-density polyethylene, and proceeded to construct a large shelter pane.

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
I came across a few wonderful looking specimens of Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarium) growing on a dead birch tree.

Late November Hike in the Valley
This is the one from which you can harvest Amadou for fire lighting. Lovely stuff.

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
Climbing higher, the bare autumn branches revealed the shape of a bend in the valley.

Late November Hike 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."
Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Late November Hike in the Valley
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.

Cheers,

Mungo

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Winter is Coming. Fall is Ending. Things Look Nice All About.

Late November - Outside the house...
December is about to begin, and the squirrels are fattening up - some of them are fairly huge. They're easier to catch when they're like this. Or so I imagine, as my wife has forbidden me from making squirrel stew.

Late November - Outside the house...
I cut back the trunk of a Japanese Barberry shrub today - the bright yellow wood was exposed. Amazing stuff. I might keep some of it to make a ferrocerium rod holder.

Late November - Outside the house...
I wonder why the wood is so yellow. Perhaps there is a chemical in it that deters insects or fungus or something. I have read that historically, yellow dye was extracted from the stem, root, and bark.

Late November - Outside the house...
Here are some of the autumn leaves of the Japanese Barberry. Such a vivid red colour.

Late November - Outside the house...
These are a little more yellow / orange in colour. I'm not sure why I'm describing the colour, when all you need to do is look at the image. But hey.

Late November - Outside the house...
Ah - a sole berry hanging beneath thorns. I think that this image perfectly signifies the hanging of a berry beneath thorns.

Late November - Outside the house...
This is an oddly shaped leaf. And the colours are - well, just look. I dunno what kind of leaf this is. Anyone? Any leafologists out there?

Late November - Outside the house...
The tree at the end of the road.

Late November - Outside the house...
The tree, almost at the end of the road.

Late November - Outside the house...
This parchment-like fragment of bark somehow ended up on my front lawn. Any barkologists out there?

Late November - Outside the house...
This leaf caught my eye because it looked like it was wearing military camouflage. But of course, it is not. It is just a leaf.

Late November - Outside the house...
The juniper shrub outside of the house smells nice. I pruned it back a little.

Late November - Outside the house...
Here we are again folks. Another soft-background shot of a Japanese Barberry branch. I really like this camera.

Late November - Outside the house...
I call this shot "Piece of grass sticking up through fallen autumn leaves on a cold day". It is basically a shot of a piece of grass sticking up through some fallen autumn leaves. It was cold today, about 3 degrees above freezing. Winter is coming - I am so excited. It is my favourite time of year here in Toronto, Canada.

Late November - Outside the house...
Hello, yellow. Well, that's about the extent to which my imagination could dress up these pictures with words. I hope you've all been having a fine week. And if you haven't, well, I hope it picks up for you. Keep yer chin up...

Cheers,

Mungo

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Mushroom Hunting - Part 3 of 4

A few weeks ago I went for a hike in a forest north of Toronto with my new Nikon D3000 DSLR camera. I was experimenting with my new toy and at the same time delighting in the fall bounty of 'shrooms and flora that littered and occupied the woods.

See the previously posted Part 1 & Part 2 of my hike in the York Region Forest.

DSC_0234
Unknown specimen. I love how the golden heads are poking up through the leaf and pine needle litter in the rich soil.

DSC_0238
Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor. From afar, you don't get much of an impression of this polypore bracket fungus, but up close, you see the many colours (the 'versicolor') of this beautiful fungus.

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Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor. You can see the detail of the spore scattering mechanism on this fungus - the many pores of the polypore. When the fungus dries out, the pores drop down and help to propagate the organism.

DSC_0250
Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor. This sacrophyte ("An organism, especially a fungus or bacterium, that grows on and derives its nourishment from dead or decaying organic matter") grows on dying or dead branches and trunks of trees. The organism produces enzymes that break down the lignin and cellulose of wood, and convert it into nutrients - sugars and amino acids and more.
"Lignin and Fungi

Lignin is a natural polymer of the cell wall that gives strength to wood. White rot fungi, which use cellulose as a carbon source, possess the unique ability to degrade lignin completely to carbon dioxide to access the cellulose molecule. Although this ability has been recognized for many years, only recently have investigators begun to understand the mechanisms by which this degradation is accomplished. Scientists hope that an understanding of how white rot fungus degrades wood will lead to its successful application in hazardous waste remediation.

The lignin degradation enzyme system of white rot fungi is extracellular and unusually nonspecific. Peroxidases and hydrogen peroxide, which are secreted by the fungi, catalyze reactions of the highly reactive and nonspecific free radicals, resulting in the depolymerization and degradation of lignin. Although lignin is naturally a highly oxidized polymer, it can eventually be completely oxidized to carbon dioxide by white rot fungi. Understanding how this is accomplished is central to understanding how many highly oxidized environmental pollutants can be degraded by the fungi. The extracellular biodegradation system also explains why the fungi can be quite resistant to toxic or mutagenic chemicals. "
DSC_0276
Unknown specimen. The forest canopy afforded all kinds of lighting options - and all of a sudden, with a gust of wind, trees shifted and light created a nice silhouette of a fern on the cap of this gilled mushroom.

DSC_0264
Unknown specimen. I think it would be fun to shrink down to the size of a mouse, and scurry about the woods with a camera (a correspondingly small camera).

DSC_0282
Unknown specimen. This shows a beautiful example of the underside of a polypore mushroom. The patterns are exquisite (if you're in to that sort of thing...)!

DSC_0294
Unknown specimen. Note that the underside of this beastie are the gills of a - yes, you guessed it - a gilled mushroom. This is an alternate mechanism for scattering pores. There are polypores, gilled, and the spore-shooters. The latter are quite dramatic, but less numerous than the former.

DSC_0329
Unknown specimen. I had been sitting on a stump for a while, having some tea and relaxing when I spied this curiously orange/yellow specimen at my feet. I liked it. I still like it.

DSC_0308
Cedar with white mushroom growing on bottom left of image. At one point, I found myself in a dark area of the woods, filled with cedars, and fragrant earth - a valley. Cedar needles covered the ground, and it seemed like a perfect place to set up a tarp and to camp overnight.

DSC_0300
Trembling Aspens (Populus tremuloides). In a neighbouring region of the same forest, trembling aspens shook in the light wind and made the canopy look alive and magical. And no, I had not consumed any suspicious mushrooms at this point (or at any other point).

DSC_0348
Azure Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense).

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Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). This huge specimen accosted me as I wandered along a game trail - it was a Shaggy Mane which was getting older - the cap had opened up and had darkened. This mushroom is a classic edible, and people go a bit crazy for them - but you need to eat them before the cup opens...

DSC_0363
Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). Here is a Shaggy Mane in an earlier stage - the cap has not yet opened, and you see the rough, shaggy looking cap - like a British barrister's wig. At this stage, it is nice and edible. Gather a few, take them home, fry them up in butter and eat 'em.

DSC_0371
Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). I laid down on the forest floor to take this photograph from beneath - the mushroom was about 8 inches high.

Hope you've enjoyed these photos. Please use the comment feature below if you have any - well, comments - or questions.

Cheers,

Mungo

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