Earth Connection is a school of primitive skills and wilderness survival located in Northern Virginia and North Carolina (Raleigh/Durham area) that has been in existence for over a decade. Our hands-on classes are reasonably priced because we don't believe in big price tags for primitive skills. That's just not natural!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Earth Connection Field Training

On December 27th some of Earth Connection’s Staff (Tim, Wes and Hardy) hit the road to do a little field training in the mountains of North Carolina near Grand Father Mountain. The weather was very favorable for December. At 4000 feet it was sunny and a balmy 60 degrees. We hiked into the wilderness and headed down to a known water fall about one mile from where we parked the vehicle, descending about 1200 feet. On the way we saw lots of wildlife sign, but few wild edible plants. Typical for a forest with little edge area.

After a short stay at the waterfall we noticed the waning daylight and decided to locate a good camping site. After another hour or so of hiking we found a great little overhang to make camp. We built up one side of the overhang to act as a wind break, then we did what we do best, make friction fire (maybe).

The problem was that our fine sunny 60 degree day turned into overcast and damp, which was not totally unexpected because we were in is a temperate rain forest. But, it is a good place to put your friction fire making skills to the test. Things started off well with a coal in the first few minutes. But, it went south from there.

The first coal was very small; we added degraded wood dust to extend its life and decided to go with it. No luck and no flame because our tinder was too damp. Also, to add to our troubles, no more coals. After a couple of hours with no coals and broken down bow drill kits we decided to use a less then primitive way to start a fire (a ferrocerium rod, the magic sparking metal-match or "flint" found in lighters).

Remembering Tim MacWelch’s friction fire class adage, “And that is why you should always have two or more ways to start a fire on you at all times!”

The night was quiet and uneventful, mostly because Tim would not let anyone give up ghost stories. As morning came so did the steady rain. The over hang we had slept in worked great we were all dry as a bone due to making shelter as our first priority even before the hours of the friction fire fiasco. After a quick bite to eat we hiked out and headed out of the high country.

“Survive smarter not harder.”

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