I’d Rather be Caught Dead Than Caught with a Ferro Rod

“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.

Posted in Uncategorized

Exploring the High Desert

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,

Posted in Uncategorized

Henbit, Plant of the Week

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

Not Carrying a Knife for Wilderness Survival

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.

Posted in Uncategorized