“I’d rather be caught dead than caught with a ferro rod!” That was the comment I made to a fellow instructor this past weekend. To him, however, it came as no surprise. He knows I have a rather oblique and critical view of the survival industry. “It’s not that I think the ferro rod doesn’t work,” I said. “It works well for what it is and is great bushcraft tool. The problem I have with it is it’s billing. It is billed as the ultimate emergency fire starting tool. It creates the mind set of the be all end all of fire starting when in reality it violates my basic tenet of survival—Can a five year old do it?”
He listened on in silence as we walked down the trail. I can only think he was thinking, “Oh boy, here goes Alan again on one of his wild rants”
“You know, Rob,” I said. “I’ve run thousands of students.
I knew with all the rains the high desert and it’s rolling hills would be turning beautiful shades of green. And yesterday I had the opportunity to explore an area of the high desert I’ve been meaning to get to for some time.
The drive up to Agua Dulce was uneventful, other than the winds attempting to blow my vehicle sideways. The winds are fairly predictable, however. Mornings and afternoons are typically much more windy as the sun’s rays warm up the air hovering just above the earth’s surface. The warming air then rises and is displaced by the cooler air that sits higher in the atmosphere. This is what causes the winds. As late afternoon approaches and the temperatures drop, the sun no longer warms up the air as it did earlier in the day and their is no warm air to rise causing winds. [I digress]
As I drove to my destination, just a coupe of miles from Vasquez Rocks,
We’re slightly over a month into Winter and already, here in Southern California, we are seeing wild greens popping up. And one of the most noticeable early bloomers, amongst many, is henbit (Lamium amplexicaule). And certainly yesterday, during my wild plants class, this little mint was making its appearance in a grand way. It was growing so rampant, it was difficult getting around it without trampling it. Fortunately, this abundance just provided more pickings for a wild green salad.
Henbit often goes unnoticed, as it blends into the background of growing grasses and other wild plants. But this small low growing European native is found throughout North America and its mild sweet taste makes a welcome addition to any wild salad. And once recognized, you will notice this plant growing in a lot of places you may frequent. It prefers light dry soil as well as cultivated soil. It is often found along roadsides, in pastures, yards and gardens. In my case, it grows rampant in my backyard, but is just as easily found in areas I hike.
Henbit is in the mint family and shares the typical mint characteristics—square stem and opposite leaves. It is often confused for purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum), but is indeed different.
On a recent walkabout, one of the students asked where my knife was. I paused the walk, turned towards the group and said, “I don’t have one”
“You mean you forgot it?” the student asked
“No, I mean I don’t carry one.” I replied while I noticed his riding on his hip. As I looked about, I noticed others had their knives on them as well, not all but some.
“Not even when you’re in the outdoors?” another asked
I guess I must not be following the mold of what an outdoors person is supposed to have or not have when hiking along.
“Actually, no. Outside of teaching classes which involve the use of a knife, like carving, cutting and sharpening, I don’t carry a knife at all.” I responded.
I set out earlier today on a scout of one of my favorite local haunts. It’s an area I frequently conduct classes at. The area is a riparian zone and very rich with a diverse flora.
I entered the dirt parking lot and noticed three other vehicles parked, but no one around. I gathered they were on a hike along the trail that parallels the creek.
Exiting the vehicle I heard a sound I’ve never heard there before, the sound of a roaring river. No way, I thought, as I walked over to what was supposed to be a creek. The creek was a roaring river. The area in the photo is typically a dribble, very easily crossed by stepping on small stones to get across; not today, however.
Anyone who’s ever taken a Red Cross CPR course has undoubtedly heard of Check, Call, Care. It is the foundation for dealing with a true survival situation.
Though many people dislike him, Bear Grylls has a similar survival philosophy, granted it is not exactly the same. Regardless, his emphasis is the same. Grylls approach is Protection, Rescue, Water, and Food. Protect yourself from immediate danger—exposure, animals, injuries, etc. Signal for rescue and finally keep hydrated and fed until rescue arrives.
So, how can Check, Call, Care be expanded into our wilderness adventure plans? It’s actually very easy.
It is difficult to quantify the perfect EDC. Our ever changing lifestyle is a big factor in what determines the perfect EDC. In essence, the perfect EDC is dynamic and fluid, never right and never wrong.
I’ve always been very reserved speaking about my EDC. Several years ago, however, I made a video of what I EDC’ed at the time. Like anything else you publish online, it was met with some criticism, but meh, I wasn’t bothered by it. It was based on what I was doing on a daily basis, it served it’s purpose. As time went on, interests and jobs changed, so did my EDC. My EDC changed dynamically to meet the needs of that new interest or job. Often times I would take things out or add things in, but there was
Joshua Tree is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Visiting there feels like you’ve landed on another planet. At least that’s the feeling I have every time I visit, today was no different.
I headed out early this morning for a meet and greet with one of the directors of Joshua Tree and to recon the area I will be teaching a two day survival course in March.
The drive there was uneventful. The rolling hills coming into Cherry Valley were already turning green, a welcome sight. San Gorgonio Mountain was covered in snow which made for a picturesque backdrop.
The beginning of any new year is always filled with well intended resolutions. Kicking off the new year with a nice hike through the woods is certainly good food for the soul.
Before you set out on your hike, here are some Zen action steps you can use to really help make your hike more enjoyable.
Do not consume alcohol the night before— There is nothing worse than attempting to go hike with a hangover, no matter how minor it is. If you drink, you might actually talk yourself out of going the next day. Cloudiness and being hungover keep you from being in the moment.
Watch what and how much you eat— Eating too much or the wrong kinds of food
Yesterday, Jan 2, I went on my first hike of the year. And while much of the country is still seasonally dormant, Southern California is coming alive.
I often kid with people and tell them SoCal has only two seasons, green and brown. For the most part, it seems to be true. Our green season can begin as early as December, when the first good rain fall typically begins. Often times, by Late March and April many areas begin turning brown. I guess one could say some of SoCal begins it’s Spring in December and it’s Summer by April. In the area I enjoy, February is peak Spring. [I digress]
The day was beautiful. The ominous clouds set a backdrop stark in contrast to what we are used to—Sunny Days.