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!!
Posted by Survivall at 15.1.12