One blanket and a frosty weekend

After a recent debate on a online group I pointed that in the old days when bushcraft was less commercial and a bit more about skills and being a part of nature the ideal was to learn the skills to allow you to go out into the nature equipped with only a blanket and a billy can.

Well this got me thinking - I wondered how many so called bushcrafters and even more so some so called instructors or experts have actually done it - actually gone out for a period of time with only a blanket and a billy (and a cutting tool of course)??

I first had the pleasure of this in 1998/9 when I attended the Ray Mears Journeyman course in Dunkeld - a wet September in Scotland taught us well! Later while an assistant with Ray I often went walk about for the odd weekend to keep my hand in.

But then time and laziness, soft living and kit over pendance tricked me into forgeting the ideal I so long sought to obtain!! Well this weekend I decided to revisit the basics, the beginnings and good back to nature, go native.

23 years have pasted since those days so the experience was going to be interesting, can I middled man weather the weather a younger man can?? Could I even remember the basic "tricks of the trade" to make a night under a blanket possible?

The answer is yes, for this weekend I went down to the Ashdown forest area and spent a cracking weekend with my old friend Tomo on a lovely peice of private land and there armed with Billy and Blanket I set about revisiting memory lane.

I DIDNT WANT TO BUILD A SHELTER - it wasnt going to rain the sky was clear and the stars were bright and the temperature was dropping as low as a frosty -6c ..........in hind sight a shelter with a good fire reflector would have been better - but we cant always have everything can we!

So I built myself a frame of logs held in place with pegs and then a bed of braken and leaf little 18 plus inches deep to be my bed. I also prepared enough wood for the fire as the basic principal of the sleep system was that the fire was my main source of heat!

Well the fire was blazing and the bed was toasty ........ I drifted off into a cozy sleep ..........until 2 and half hours later the fire started to die down. Awoken by the creeping chill I restoked the fire and slept once more - this of course is common and became the routine for the night.

I made a few mistakes of course - rusty skills are like that. First I should have put my bed on the down wind side of the fire so the breeze would push more heat my way. Secondly I barely had enough wood to last the night. Thirdly, and not one I have come across before, I removed the fire side log of the bed in the early hours this made the heat of the fire much more appreciable and there was nothing between the flames and myself.

Moral of the story is yes a middle age man can survive temperatures down to minus 6c with only a blanket for cover - but you need to get out there and do it as learning from your mistakes while its safe to do so (I had A SAFETY TENT AND SLEEPING BAG SET UP JUST IN CASE) is far better than making those same mistakes when possibly your life or th elife or your loved ones might depend on it ..........as with all bushcraft skills practice not kit makes perfect!!


SWECANOE said...

Well done Gary,
Preben Mortensen
WEISS Training Sweden.

Perkunas said...

As annoying this might sound but i think that the modern urban people that are relying on the "fact" that tehy can always hide in the homes with over +20c temps and with all the pillows and other comfort factors, the humankind slowly degenerates in a bad way, to bunch of ball-less lazy wihiners lacking all the guts to survive even modest conditions and climates /temps. Bit of toughing it out, is always recommended i think. With safety and bac-up gear offcourse. But you (not you G) just cant always plan to have a super sleeping bag with you so its better to train, to survive and adapt to less fancy gear. To myself, bc is , no matter how nice it is to get gear, all about the skills,knowledge and attitude.

For what you said about have people actaully done it:), well yes, i have, slept under skies, in wonter and summer, without tarp or sleeping bag for several times.

Survivall said...

Thanks Preben ..........

Mikko - as always I agree with you my friend - maybe this year you can come to Sweden and show me some skills! ;)

moose said...

well done gary !
at least you did it with the common sence to have a back up shelter and a warm doss bag. did tomo do the same or was he snug as a bug?

moose said...

well done gary !
at least you did it with the common sence to have a back up shelter and a warm doss bag. did tomo do the same or was he snug as a bug?

Survivall said...

Dont be daft Clive - Tomo's not stupid he was in his basha in two sleeping bags and a bivi bag ........... he did make me a nice cup of tea first thing in the morning though!!

Waldgeistman said...

Lovely Jubbly.

Survivall said...

Cheers Tommo - Mikko sorry I pressed the wrong button and deleted your message .......... but I did read it and am very tempted to take you up on your kind offer - like wise if im in Svenska your welcome there too!