As I’m sure most of you are well aware, we had some crazy weather in June. Who ever heard of so much rain in Colorado, especially during the summer?! With such bizarre weather conditions, there is no telling when a storm is going to hit. If you were caught in the mountains unexpectedly overnight, would you have what it takes to survive?
During the month of June, the Cottonwood Institute hosted two Essential Survival Skills Overnights for adults. Not scared off by the rain, two groups of adventurous adults headed into the woods to learn what it takes to survive in the wild. The two day trips were action packed. The campers learned nature awareness skills, minimum impact camping techniques, survival priorities, and edible plants. After hiking into base camp, the group spent most of the first day busting their butts to build survival shelters. One the second trip they even got rained on right in the middle of construction. But, April Pishna, a participant, Apprentice Instructor, and Cottonwood Institute Administrative Coordinator reports, “what was amazing was that our shelters stayed dry!” Which is a good thing because every camper got to spend the night in their shelter.
The next day, the group got down and dirty with the business of fire making. Both primitive and modern methods were covered but the both groups agreed that the friction fire was a highlight of the trip. A friction fire is your classic “rubbing two sticks together” way of making fire, but it is a lot more involved then most people know. Michael Anderson, a participant on the first overnight, successfully busted a coal in no more than 10 minutes! This is probably the fastest first time friction fire on record! At the end of the day, the groups got to participate in a mini service project to give back to the land before heading home to showers and warm beds.
Aside from the friction fire, Michael’s favorite part of the trip is what he referred to as the “ADD hike.” The hike into base camp was so packed with things to see and learn that instructors Ford, and Clark were stopping every few minutes to show the group a new edible plant or a survival tip. In terms of what the participants had to say about their course, Michael says, “I loved it! I had a wonderful time and would recommend it to anyone.” Since the overnight Michael has been munching on edible plants in his yard, making his own friction fire set, and planning a 6-week long trip through 4 nation parks.
April had a similarly good experience. In addition to her many titles at the Cottonwood Institute, she was also the unofficial chef of the trip. She’ll have you know that, “our pita pizzas and gourmet bagel sandwiches were the hit of the trip. No dried out boring food for us!” Here is what April had to say about the overnight: “… although uncomfortable and a little chilly, having slept in something made by my own two hands gave me quite the thrill, knowing that I could survive outdoors if needed, plus bragging rights to my husband and friends, made it all worthwhile! We had a great time! Clark was a great instructor, very knowledgeable and patient, and a sense of humor that cracked you up! New friendships were forged, new skills were taught, and lessons that could be applied to not only the wilderness but to everyday life, were learned!”