Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chilcotin Holidays

Primitive wilderness skills from Bushcraft


Trekking up the hill the opposite direction from ranch, I was still unsure what I had signed up for. Wanting to understand more about the Canadian wilderness, I decided to join a Bushcraft course, where examples of the proposed activities were a wild edibles walk and campfire skills. This course was to be a personal retreat from office work where I could learn how to live away from technology and how to basically survive, of course with a few premades thrown in. Being a keen cook, I was especially looking forward to learning about a supermarket of wild edibles lining the trees and forest floor.

First we were introduced to pineapples, as Daniel, the 16 year old novice Bushcrafter called them. Which are the tips of the pine branches and have a slightly sweet lemony flavour. As with all wild edibles at first I wasn't keen on them, as their subtle flavour, free from added salts and processing was slightly strange. However by day two I was plucking wild dandelions from the soil every couple of minutes as my taste buds craved these fresh plants. Other wild edibles were the strawberry plant and plantain leaves. In the cases of all these plants it was amazing how many nutrients you could gain from eating a small portion of them, especially if you ate the roots. In certain clearings there was enough food surrounding you, to enable a person to survive for up to 6 weeks. An unusual wild edible was the sap from pine trees, which is sugary and if you suck on it for 15 minutes it becomes a sort of chewing gum. The flavour was a bit odd but the sap was really good at soothing the cuts on my hands I had gained while tending the fire.

Taking a break from technology can also mean, living without basic glue and plasters. One of the most interesting wilderness skills I learnt was making glue to fix my metal cup out of charcoal and pine sap. I had managed to pack everything I needed except for a metal cup for tea or coffee. Not being able to live without my caffeine fix I used one of our premade containers to fashion a metal bowl/ cup. This of course broke after two uses as it was made of tin foil. Rather then throw it away I was determined to fix It and Nick our instructor sent me scavenging for the ingredients for “wild” glue. This is formed by heating a handful of pine sap and one tsp of charcoal in another premade container over the fire. It forms a molten black liquid that you can use to patch up holes or in Daniels case make a torch. Making this glue also led to me becoming a teacher to Daniel, as he needed something to fix his wooden pipe. What I loved about Bushcraft was the knowledge our group of ten learnt from each other. I learnt a lot from Daniel, such as how light a fire using a ferro rod, a lighter made out of rare earth metals. He taught me the angle you needed to strike the rod at to create a spark large enough to light our cotton wool and Vaseline fire starter. In turn I showed him how to heat up the sap and charcoal, so it did not set on fire and melt our makeshift frying pan. Which was a success and ten minutes later we had produced another batch of glue. Therefore taking part in Bushcraft has made me more of a leader, as I am excited to share the vast variety of wilderness skills I learnt during only 4 days in the bush.

Chilcotin Holidays

About Chilcotin Holidays

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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