I’ve done a bit of camping. Pretty much been using the same, or same type of gear for 20 years or so. I think this contest is great in that it will get some people out with gear they haven’t used in the past and give them an opportunity to try things out. I already have confidence and experience with my gear. Since the official rules said there’s no limit on gear, I went with less.
Here’s what I took.
A wool blanket, my kukri knife, the camera shown and the one I took the pic with, a camera tripod in a case with a strap, a small first aid kit in the little pouch to the left, and a chicken salad snack. In addition to these items I had some of my EDC most of a bottle of Gatorade and a Snickers bar in my jacket pocket leftover from lunch the day before.
Here’s my route
Around 8am 1/8, I grabbed a bagel and cream cheese and headed out.
About 40 minutes later I parked in a little clump of trees in the corner of a pasture. I slung the tripod, draped the blanket over my shoulders, camera on its strap around my neck, Gatorade in my hand and started walking down the road.
I didn’t have to walk very far before I found some baling twine in a pasture, also along the road. This allowed me to sling my blanket and Gatorade across a shoulder and still had plenty left to stuff in my pocket.
A view down the road towards the river valley.
It was along here that I found a couple feet wire hanging on a fence post. I put that in my pocket also.
I left the road here and veered off to the right to get down to the water. It was still cold but the sun was out and it looked like it was going to be a good day.
Once I got to the creek, I didn’t walk all the way to the river. There was a lot of trash laying around intermixed with the driftwood. You can see bottles and cans, even a ziplock baggie! I put the baggie in my pocket as well as a pop can. I also found some sticks that I intended to use for a bow drill later.
I followed the creek for a ways. I was keeping my eyes open for a rock with an indentation in it for use as a bearing block. I found one that wasn’t great but would work so I stuck it in my pocket. A bit further I found some flint in the steeper out croppings. My hands and pockets were full at this point and I had a pretty good size ravine to hike out of ahead of me. I decided to use my t-shirt as a bag. I still had my sweat shirt, hoodie and Carhart on. I used some baling twine to tie off the neck and sleeve holes and filled my new bag with my recent ground scores.
If I were planning to be out for a few days this would have been a good place. The grass in the pic on the right was perfect for making a grass hut. Already in bundles even!
A view from almost the top of the ravine.
I kinda wandered around for a while. Just exploring the area. I found some nylon rope tied to a tree, I left it. I also found some rose hips growing in some of the clearings. I picked all I found.
The open area became more wooded as I got closer to where I intended to find a campsite.
Along the way I found this packrat nest. I kicked it apart and a very small rat ran out. I didn’t even go after him since he was so small.
I walked down one side of the valley and finding no good campsites I crossed over to the spring. Fresh clean water. No cropland or other pollutants here.
I also found another packrat nest and after kicking it apart was able to add a rather large rat to my bag. Not only do packrat nests contain food (the rat) but often you will find nuts still in the shell. You also can find dry kindling there even in a rain storm and tinder in the form of his nest. I helped myself to his nest an put it in the ziplock baggie I found earlier. I kicked apart a third nest and the rat was able to escape into a hole.
I headed back up the valley a little ways and found a nice spot to make camp. Not to far from the spring.
I dumped my stuff and took stock of what I had to work with. On the left, everything out of my pockets and the right my ground scores for the day.
No campsite is perfect and this one had old barbwire running right between the trees I wanted to use. So I grabbed my Gerber and promptly busted the cutting carbide. So I bent the wire back and forth till it broke.
I started clearing an area for my shelter and stacking up some firewood.
And the frame of my shelter starts to take shape.
After a good solid frame was laid up I covered the shelter with a good layer of cedar limbs. It was starting to warm up even though the sun was no longer shinning. I had to shed my coat to keep from breakin a sweat.
I used my blanket to gather and carry leaves from an area that had more leaves on the ground. I piled these on and around the shelter. There was some kinda little red vine growing all over the place that kept catching my hands and feet when I’d try raking up leaves. This was a pain in my ass, but after 15 trips or so, I had enough leaves.
I used more cedar limbs to hold the leaves in place as I built up the sides of the shelter.
Once I had a good layer of leaves I covered the entire shelter with cedar limbs.
And then larger limbs to keep everything in place and from blowing away.
The view from 20 feet or so behind the shelter.
It took about 3 hours to get the shelter put up and while I had an hour of daylight left I decided to get a fire going. I found a green limb for the bow and strung it with my found baling twine. Gathered up my tinder and kindling. Whittled out a fire board and spindle an commenced to burn in my spindle.
About the time I started getting smoke signifying that the spindle and board had mated, my twine broke (inset). This wasn’t a big deal because I was about to stop and cut the notch in my fire board anyway. It did however show that nylon twine won’t work for a bow drill.
I carved a notch to catch my ember and restrung the bow with the outer case from a length of 5/50 and was back in business. It took a few seconds longer to create an ember do to the low temperatures but I got a nice ember within a minute or so (inset left). Dumped it into my rat nest tinder bundle and added a bit of kindling. (inset right)
Success, and heat. I built a fire ring putting larger flat rocks to the back of the fire to reflect heat towards me in the shelter.
Now that I had my shelter, heat and water needs taken care of it was time for dinner. So I skinned and dressed out my rat.
I went back to the spring to refill my water and wash my rat, hands and knives. Once back to camp I skewered the rat and as he was cooking I cut the top off a can, folded the edges and added a piece of wire for a handle. I sliced my rose hips and added them to water for tea. Rose hips have something like 60 times the vitamin C as lemons and don’t taste bad at all. You can see my snickers bar by the fire to keep from freezing.
With my rat grilled to perfection I decided it was time to eat. Now I have eaten rat, and would again if I had to, but this time I opted for chicken salad. Hate to disappoint but Hanta Virus
has been found locally and there is no cure.
I enjoyed my chicken salad and crackers, some rose hip tea and 2/3 of my snickers bar saving the rest for the next day. I should also mention that by this time it was plenty dark in the woods. Without a headlight, I simply loosened my hat band and slid my Surefire into the side. This worked very well, plenty of light.
I just watched the fire burn for a bit and relaxed. I piled some wood against the shelter sides for easy access during the night and wrapped up in my blanket. The bed of leaves was quite comfortable and I could feel the fires heat radiating into the shelter.
The view from my shelter as I went to sleep. Snow.
I slept well. Waking up cold only 4 or 5 times and putting wood on the fire. The following morning I had a dusting of snow and around 20 degrees.
Time to stoke up the fire and get to work.
I gathered some of those frustrating vines that were giving me trouble collecting leaves. I stripped off some cedar bark and found a little branch of dead wood and took it back to the fire.
Once back to the warmth of the fire I whittled out three snare triggers. Two of one design and one of another. I also made a bit of cordage from the cedar bark. It is worth mentioning that it was difficult to get the cedar bark to work right when it was that cold out. By the time you had the inner bark warm enough to be flexible it was to dry to twist and had a tendency to just break. I had to use very fine strands and while it was possible, it was not nearly as easy as it is to do when the temperatures are warmer. I did find it was easier to twist the dry fibers if I wetted my finger tips in the snow first.
Since I had the inner strands from the 5/50 cord I used on the bow drill in my pocket I opted to use them in setting up my snares. I set one at a den close to the spring, one along the streambed where animals had run in the past and one in front of a hole using some of my snickers bar for bait. The rest was my breakfast.
Back at camp I thought I’d try my hand at basket making. You are always in need of containers so I started weaving those red vines. It didn’t take to long, maybe an hour, and I had a little basket. I put my flint in it.
I played with the flint for a while. Seeing what kinda sparks I could get from it. It was more for curiosity sake than anything as I didn’t have char cloth. A Gerber tool is not optimum for a striker either. I walked up the valley a ways just exploring the area and enjoying the outdoors. Was hoping to find some sheds but no luck this time.
Once back to camp I picked up my things and headed back down to the spring to remove my snares as I wouldn’t be coming back. Two of them were undisturbed, and one looked like this.
I was away from the area maybe 3 hours and this nosey squirrel get his-self snared. This is in no way typical of how snares work. I never would have thought anything would approach these snares for days. I made no effort to conceal my scent or even much care in funneling the trails to the snares. Curiosity kills cats and apparently this squirrel too. So, he’s now in my freezer.
A view of my camp as I left it. About 2:30pm 1/9.
I walked about a quarter mile back up to my truck and drove back down to the water and picked up a bunch of trash.
You can get by with very little equipment if you know some basic skills.
Most everything is more difficult when it’s cold. Allow extra time.
Lithium ion batteries don’t work in the cold. Alkalines work much better.
Burning long logs in the middle keeps you from having to chop them in half to use them.
Cedar bark is hard to use for cordage in the winter. I should have grabbed hemp stalks by the river.
If I were planning to stay longer I would have rocked up the ends of the shelter a little and made the fire reflector larger.
Gerber wire cutting carbides are as brittle as the rest of their tools.
Had I stayed longer I would have saved the rat guts for snare bait.
Nylon twine has some uses but a bow drill isn’t one of them.
Not all squirrels are smart.Disclaimer: Hanta Virus is very serious and there is no cure. You can be exposed to it just by being in areas rats and mice frequent. I do not recommend eating or even being around them unless you are truly in a survival situation. No animals were harmed in the making of this thread. Except that rat and stupid squirrel.