Pathfinder School Review - Part 2

Part 1

The Rest of Day 1

After building my shelter the rain had stopped, and I was getting ready to head down the hill to the class area when I noticed a bird's nest in one of the branches that made up my shelter roof.  Thinking it might come in handy, I pocketed it to save it for later.

We gathered back in the class area, and wouldn't you know it, I had forgotten to bring my folding camp chair.  I sat on a flat rock, perched on a small log.  It was better than sitting flat on the ground, but I frequently had to stand to get feeling back in my legs.

Dave began teaching about the three aspects of survivability.  I'm not going to give away too much here, you'll have to get his book or go through the class yourself.  He then went into thermoregulation and discussed different types and layers of clothes to wear for different temperature ranges.

He next taught his Five Cs of survivability...  those five items that you should have in every emergency kit to get you through the first 72 hours, that are also hard to replicate or replace in the field.  I'll go ahead and tell you what they are, as he shares the information in this Discovery Channel video too.
The items are: Cutting Tool, Combustion Device, Covering Device, Container and Cordage.

In interesting item that I picked up when he was going over the combustion device was when he told us that Wet Fire works great, but only when freshly unwrapped from it's sealed package.  If you remember back a couple weeks, I tested some Wet Fire and it worked great.  I had some leftover in my kit while I was at the school, and sure enough, during a night exercise, I found that it failed on me.  I definitely need to get some more.

Next he covered five more Cs.  These are not so much needed for survival, but they add to comfort and convenience. 

Chance was up next with knife and axe use and safety.  Among some good information was a recommendation for the Bahco Laplander Folding Saw.  Several of these were in use around the camp, and all performed flawlessly.  He didn't recommend a particular knife, but gave us some features to look for.  Those included: high carbon steel blade (easy to keep sharp); 90 deg. angle on the spine (to get the best scrape on a ferro rod); no coating, at least at the point where you'd scrape it; 5+ inch blade at least 3/16th inch thick.  Swedish Mora knives and USMC Ka-Bars seemed to be the most represented in class.

Next up was fire starting.  A key is that the initial goal is to create an ember, not a fire... that comes later.  Another thing is that as soon as you get a fire going, you need to start preparing for the NEXT fire.  Among the ways to do that is to ensure you have dry tinder, and something to start the ember.  Char cloth is a great way to do that.  And, that was our first deliverable project... Char cloth and a fire in our tinder.  Remember that bird's nest I found?  Yep... it came in handy.  Everyone started making char cloth and gathering grass and twigs to dry out.  I got my char cloth made, and my bird's nest had dried out.  I'm happy to say that I was the first in the class to get my fire.

Mitch then gave a demonstration of a bow drill fire.  If you've never made one (and I haven't), it is not as easy as it looks on TV.  Mitch went to town with his kit and sure enough got one going.  We didn't have to make a bow drill fire in the basic class, but those who go for the advanced class must.  I'm going to work on making one this summer.

By this time, evening was approaching, and we broke class.  Dave gave us directions to town for those who needed a dose of civilization.  Another student and I headed in to Wal Mart to pick up camp chairs.  We were the only two without.  Back at camp, I enjoyed a nice MRE (a complete review of the MREs that I had over the weekend will come after I finish this series), a cigar, and climbed the hill to my shelter...  which I found had sagged so bad that I couldn't get in my bedroll.

I dragged my bedroll out a bit so that my legs were still under cover, and the rest of me was sticking out.  Luckily, the rain was long gone.  I crawled in, soaking in sweat, and found that I was on an incline.  Tired, and unwilling to tromp around in the brush in my bare feet, I determined to suck it up.  Between the heat, coyote howls, buzzing mosquitoes, and the short track race cars in the distance, sleep was hard coming... and hard keeping as I kept sliding down hill inside my bag.  A miserable night, but worth it. 

Day two comes tomorrow!

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