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Beginnings

January 22, 2017

Alone. Huddled at the base of a tree, wedged between the roots for they alone offer any security. Eyes dart all around searching but not seeing with bated breath for breathing too loud may attract the attention of things unwanted.

A chill hangs heavy in the air though it is midday and the sun is high. An urge to run rises but there is no course plotted, no destination to be seen. The thought causes the blood to quicken pace and a throb to stir behind the brow – it is the beginning of a belief, the realization of impending doom.

These are the familiar sensations of panic to anyone who has experienced being lost or faced disaster, and that may be explaining it lightly.

Panic is the first real beast to face in an emergency. It is the first destroyer, the bringer of rain. Too much stress from panic reduces motor skills, focus on details becomes less acute and the ability to think clearly - well, becomes cloudy.

This is a time when energy needs to be conserved but everything inside is screaming to flee because safety is just over that ridge or just around that hill. This is why so many lost hikers are found naked and frozen – fleeing exerts a lot of energy which causes overheating and sweating. We combat sweating by removing clothing. Removing clothing after sweating causes death by hypothermia in prolonged exposure to cool outdoor temperatures.

So how do we slay this monster that lurks in the corner of the mind waiting for its moment to strike?

Take a couple of minutes… Literally.

Sit down, breathe, close your eyes. Take two minutes to recover focus and think of absolutely nothing. A heavy heart rate will slow, an overwhelming desire to run will ease, stress will diminish and panic will subside. Two minutes will make all the difference for your survival.

The next step is equally crucial. The mind needs to remain occupied to keep that monster at bay. Find a long stick, about two fingers wide and about shoulder height. Use a knife or a flat rock with an edge and scrape the bark off of it. Start a fire, if able, for a fire is an immediate sense of security and comfort. Slowly roast the walking stick to draw out the moisture to make it lighter and easier to carry.

These are the beginning principals for overcoming panic in an emergency. The foundation upon which the ability to survive is built. Preparing for emergencies is important, pack supplies and keep them in the vehicle and practice, practice, practice. Get familiar with being outdoors, building fires and shelters. Knowing how to do these things in controlled and safe environments makes them far easier to do when the comforts of home or office are far away.

Then I Ate - Soup

December 8, 2016

I am getting into the habit of fasting every once in a while. Yes, starving myself on purpose for reasons unknown and ‘crazy’ to my family, but for reasons very sound to me. I like the challenge of learning my limits, I want the experience to pass on to students, I want to know I can do it if I ever have to and it is, undoubtedly, a great way to test one’s will power.

Fasting is a healthy approach to cleanse the body of toxins and recycle unused or damaged immune cells. That means your body learns to fend for itself better than most prescribed medications which train your body to not fend for itself. That equals longevity, you may just live longer because your system can even fight the aging process. The reported health benefits of fasting include (and in alphabetical order): antiaging effects, better attitude, better resistance to disease, better sleep, change of habits, clearer planning, clearer skin, creativity, diet changes, drug detoxification, improved senses (vision, hearing, taste), inspiration, more clarity (mentally and emotionally), more energy, more relaxation, new ideas, purification, reduction of allergies, rejuvenation, rest for digestive organs, revitalization, right use of will, spiritual awareness, weight loss. From The Benefits of Fasting, www.allaboutfasting.com/benefits-of-fasting.html.

Aside from those awesome points, we need to know how fasting is going to work in a survival situation. It’s about making smarter choices with your food resources. Most people would think, if they had a four day supply of food on a seven day trip, it is more logical to ration that food to stretch out the seven days. Untrue. This decision will do more harm to your body than good. The Rule of 4 we use goes like this: 4 minutes without air, 4 hours in extreme weather, 4 days without water, 4 weeks without food. Four weeks without food. Your body is designed to withstand certain extreme conditions and going without food for extended periods of time is one of those conditions. During a fast, your body will use up its stores of glycogen from the liver and muscles before it begins ketone production, meaning it starts dipping into the fatty acids for energy. This process does not occur if the caloric intake is less than what your basal metabolic rate requires. So you will be more hungry, more tired and less capable of maintaining your comfort zone. Eat all of your food over the four days as normal, then fast.

Every time I fast, I will extend the time frame and gauge the outcome to find a method that works best for me. My personal experience with a seven day fast so far has shown me that I will go the first three days on water and coffee (bush tea if I’m out in the wild). By the third and fourth day I was the most uncomfortable and started to add 100% real fruit juice (no sugar added) because I knew I was ending and back to normal eating by the seventh day. Day five, I kept on the water/coffee/juice diet and soup, not heavy soup and only two bowls, one at lunch and one at supper. By the sixth day I had a very light breakfast, soup for lunch and a half portion (largely because my stomach shrank) at supper of deer burger meatballs, potatoes and ceasar salad. I lost ten pounds but I knew most of that was everything I still had in my digestive tract and I will get some of that back but I can now eat less and manage my caloric intake with my daily output of energy more efficiently.

The first three to four days are the hardest, I will not sugar coat this fact. I was the most run down and my skin was taking on a pale grey colour by the morning of the fourth day. The juice helped with that. The next time I plan to fast, I will stay on just water for five days to see if the grey colouring still appears. Fasting truly is good for your health, both physically and mentally, I believe that but it is something you want to work yourself into before jumping right into a 7 day fast. Start with one day, then try three and so on. Note what you are experiencing so nothing is unexpected for longer trials. There are side effects you will experience such as hunger, headaches, stomach aches, irritability and fatigue but the longer you stick with your fast, the less you will feel these symptoms because your body is adjusting and conditioning itself.

Further info:

http://masterwoodsman.com/2014/edible-wild-plants-survival/

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-benefits-of-fasting-that-will-surprise-you.html

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting/

The Importance of Survival Psychology

August 19, 2016

The psychology of survival is an often overlooked topic that deserves its own section. Knowing how to manage your panic and stress when you first realize you are in an emergency situation is a key asset to your survival.

We teach the Rule of 4: 4 minutes without air, 4 hours in extreme weather, 4 days without water, 4 weeks without food. Most people know or have heard of this concept or something similar but let's think about the food part. If you were to envision yourself being lost somewhere, what do you think your first thought would go to? Most think of what they are going to eat and that is what would kill them first.

The Rule of 4 is important to memorize. The average human being can survive up to four weeks without food. Four weeks. It's the last on the list not your first concern. Yes, you will feel hungry and over time, weak and tired but you will stay alive. Having fresh water is more important than food so you will look for that first. Surviving extreme weather is a greater threat than lack of water so you would build a shelter and of course, having no air to breathe will kill you faster than the other three rules.

Prioritize and organize. Not only does it help you keep your mind busy while you do something to maintain warmth and hydration but you are adding to your safety, security and peace of mind until help arrives - which stands a 99% chance of occuring inside of four weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

A Thought on Friction Fire

August 13, 2016

Having tried out a bow drill friction fire starting method and recently the fire plow friction method, I would have to admit that if I'm stuck with no other means of getting a fire going I would put the time into building a bow drill over the fire plow unless I knew I had optimal materials on hand.

I found the bow drill to be more time consuming to construct having to carve the drill, the socket, the plate then string the bow before you go work. The fire plow only needs the plow and the plate but the overall amount of energy expenditure wasn't worth the short cut to use the plow. One has to practice with many different types of wood to get an efficient marriage to get a quick coal built up. I tried an aspen plow on willow, aspen plow on pine, aspen plow on aspen (worked well with the bow drill) and a pine plow on willow. I had the most success with the last configuration, getting a decent plume of smoke going but I physically wore out before an ember would form.

A thorough understanding of softwoods and hardwoods is essential to get a friction fire process to work and I will play around with different recipes and post my findings for the area I live in. Would love to get some feedback and stories of what other folks have tried!

Cheers!

Kev.

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