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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Holiday Bushcraft Part 2 (Solo)

A big part of bushcraft is using those skills to make journeys and expeditions possible, one of the first people to adapt bushcraft skills to major journeys and explorations was British Explorer Samuel Hearne. During a failed attempt to find and map a route to the copper mine river he was robbed by some Indians and left with nothing more than a knife, awl, razor, needle, file and soap. Despite the apparent inconvenience the misfortune turned out to be a stroke of luck as he found the return journey with such a light load much more tolerable, and even enjoyable than the outward journey laden down by equipment and supplies. 

Samuel Hearne - Project Gutenberg etext 20110.jpg

Public Domain, Link

After the revaluation about travelling light he tried again to find the coppermine river, with the help of a Dene Indian named Motonabbee.  This time rather than relying on equipment and supplies they travelled a circuitous route staying within the wooded areas where they could find food during winter before heading out over the tundra in Spring following herds of migrating caribou and moose which provided them not only with food but with leather for repairing their boots and other essential material. 

A Map of Part of the Inland Country to the North West of Prince of Wales Fort Hudon's, Bay Samuel Hearne 1772 (1969).jpg
Samuel Hearne's map of his expeditions (By w:Samuel Hearne, flickr upload by [1] - originally posted to Flickr as A Map of Part of the Inland Country to the Nh Wt of Prince of Wales Fort Hs, By Samuel Hearne 1772 (1969) Uploaded using F2ComButton, CC BY 2.0, Link)

Samuel Hearne was the first European explorer recorded to have used first nation skills in his explorations and not only did it pay off but it caught on and many expeditions and explorations that came later learned from his. 

I've been lucky enough to be able to attempt some solo expeditions of my own on my holidays and during my spare time over the years and have seen the benefits of using bushcraft skills to help me travel lighter, further and without reliance on modern kit;

Light weight kit and a willingness to adapt and improvise served me well while hiking in the Brenta Dolomites after a conference and meant that I could fit all the kit I needed to teach a workshop on outdoor learning in my rucksack as well as my hiking kit;

Being able to trap and skin possums while I was working in New Zealand several years ago allowed me to earn some extra money and make the most of my free time while I was there;

The extra cash meant I was able to travel extensively and practice and learn even more bushcraft skills;

Climbing in the Southern Alps

A week as a volunteer ranger for the Department of Conservation on the Tiri tiri Matangi bird reserve looking after Takahe's one of the worlds most endangered birds. 
A visit to Rotoroa and the Maori school of carving and weaving where I learned how to make cordage with flax. 
Bushcraft skills mean that not only can you pack light, safe in the knowledge that your simple tarp will keep you sheltered at night but you can even build your own shelters from natural material. 

My home on my nights off from teaching at a residential environmental education centre in Devon a few years ago, it wasn't strictly a holiday but it was a very busy and hectic Summer and my nights here felt like a holiday. 

Building an A-frame shelter on a solo trip, although this one is probably big enough for two. 
Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, is one of my favourite places, having spent several years living and working there I jump on any available chance to go back; 

Contemplating the crossing of a frozen lake on the way to the 'cabin' I was heading for. Not worth the risk at that time of year. 

Travelling light, bushcraft style, on this trip meant carrying a knife, hatchet, sleeping bag, wool blanket, change of clothes, cup and fork. A shopping trip to Lidl after arriving gave me a tin of soup, among other things, which I then used for the rest of my trip to cook all my meals in. 

Sweden is a bushcrafters paradise with it's Allamansrätten laws allowing for hiking and camping almost anywhere and a deeply ingrained love of the outdoors. 

On top of Kopparhaugene on a trip to Oslo 

Using bushcraft skills is only a part of going on trips and expeditions during holidays, learning about bushcraft skills is a great attraction too;

Bow drills for working wood and bone in the Fram Museum of polar exploration in Oslo

A boyhood dream come true, a visit to the Kon Tiki museum in Oslo.

Beautifull carvings, in bone and walrus ivory. 

The Fram, one of Roald Ammundsens Polar exploration vessels. 

Meeting Ă–tzi the iceman in Bolzano

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