This last weekend I took the Complete Survivor Class from Ancient Pathways. I picked up a whole series of skills to practice. Notice I said “practice” because, good lord, just cause I did these things once doesn’t mean I am actually competent at any of them. We set traps, snares, tracked, snacked on plants, made jerky and stared at a whole lot of poop.
The class had many manly men and two lovely ladies. I think it is fair to say that I was generally the least competent at just about everything. Except for smoking bowls, this I was good at, and by smoking bowls, I mean making a bowl out of fire.
One of the first things we learned that weekend was to whittle out a spoon. Which was handy as I had forgotten to bring a spoon, and only had a fork and knife. My spoon was incompetent. I routinely watched, for the rest of the weekend, as people whittled out far superior spoons and then pitch them in the fire.
I was a bit nervous at the start of the weekend. First, I wasn’t sure if I was in the sort of shape to survive such a thing. Second it snowed the night before in Flagstaff. I was not expecting snow in mid-May in Arizona.
This had me concerned. In assessing my clothes the first cold morning of the class I realized if the cold held I would not be able to stay warm without looking perfectly ridiculous. First rule of survival is PMA (Postive Mental Attitude) which is hard to do when one doesn’t look good while doing it. O.K., maybe the first rule is only the PMA part and I just added the looking good part.
The warmest thing I had was a thick wool poncho that I had bought years before in Mexico. I was planning on using it for a blanket. I have only worn it on stage for comedic relief, and I am sure the ex-military men would have met it with scoff. Luckily for me, things warmed up.
The first thing after setting up our tests was a walking tour of the property. Tony Nester, our instructor, pointed out the various rat and mice nests around. Of course, I had set my tent up right beside a big pack-rat’s nest. Once he pointed it out, it was bluntly obvious. I never moved my tent. I figured if I had gophers in Phoenix, I could share space with a pack-rat.
Below: My tent and pack-rat nest.
The weekend was simply packed with new knowledge and things worth mulling over. Here are all the shots from the weekend. As I reflect on lessons learned and go over my half-filled notebook, I will be making a series of posts about this weekend.