Our trip in 2018 will not be only in summer, with hot weather and bugs. With this in mind, we arranged with our friend Jon (of Borealis Bushcraft) to go out for another weekend of learning how to use what's around us for both necessities and comfort.
On our last trip, Jon said no tents - this time around, nothing at all! We did bring tarps that we left in the car in case of emergency, but the idea was to start from scratch and build a shelter from natural materials, also known as primitive shelters. He told us that this would take several hours, unlike building our tarp shelters of the last trip, and he was right.
First, we decided on the best spot to set up. We would make two shelters, one for myself and my boyfriend Luke, and another for Claire and Rylea. Since Jon would spend his time helping us, he set up a military tarp system for himself. Although the weather that weekend was a record high for temperatures, we set up our shelters for much cooler weather. We found a spot into the trees far enough to get a natural wind barrier from the surrounding bush and set up so would have the two shelters facing each other, with the fire pit in the middle. The shelters were angled so that wind would move across both doors, preventing smoke from building up inside.
The next step was to find straight, trees approximately 4-5" in diameter for the frames of our shelter. This was the only case where Jon suggested we use green wood (meaning cutting down live trees) if we couldn't find sturdy enough dead wood. Since we were looking in a stand of poplars, we wouldn't feel all too bad about it. In fact, a little thinning now and again is good for the forest - it allows the remaining trees access to resources without the extra difficulty of competition.
Once we'd tied the three poles for the frame together, it was time to add the rest of the poles for coverage. Smaller than the frame poles, we were instructed to use the larger, straighter ones first. Once we'd done that (which took some doing, since we needed quite a bit - enough so we couldn't see through them) we needed some debris. Jon had Claire and Rylea use evergreen boughs, and Luke and I use branches.
Claire then made the whole group a camp Thanksgiving Dinner (a couple weeks late, but still delicious) and we spent the evening swapping stories and fireside libations. Not bad at all.
The next day, we had breakfast and then Luke and I headed back to the city to drop him off before I headed back to the group. While we were gone, Jon taught Claire and Rylea to create a different kind of shelter, made of young poplar growth and tied together with poplar withies and spruce roots. They made a frame, which could then be covered in a tarp to provide the shelter.
Once I came back, we re-configured the shelters. Since the frame Luke and I built was bigger and could fit all three of us, we were able to take apart both shelters and combine all the materials on the one frame. This increased the water resistance of the shelter, especially important since the weather forecast called for rain. Though we ended up getting only a little, we stayed perfectly dry!
On day three, we did some navigation training using a compass and the environment (following rivers and the like), then Jon took Rylea and I on a little tour of the area to see some of the other places he camps at while Claire headed back to the city for a baby shower. After a stop for lunch at the traditional spot (The Cat Sass Tavern), it was back to the city and our everyday lives.