Catharticness, I don’t even know if it’s a word but its a good description for my outing last weekend.
I have been looking to change my job in work and have done a few interviews this year none of which I’ve been successful in. The most recent one was essentially for a post doing half the job I used to do. I was told at the interview it would be two weeks before we were notified. Two weeks pass, announcement delayed a week. A week passes, I start to get asked by colleagues if I had heard anything. A few comment that I though everyone that was successful had been told. Really feeling crap now. Eventually on Fri I get an email from the recruiting manager saying he’s too busy to call I didn’t get the job and he’ll call me at another time. Now for a large organisation that may be expected for our small org it should be better. As someone who recruits a lot I would expect to get a roasting for treating existing staff in that way. Fuming and despondent my weekend normally starting on Thu 1800 didn’t start until Fri 1830.
Roll on the weekend. I knew I needed to get out and get away from it all albeit only briefly. The weather was fantastic, a cold arctic blast but sunshine and clear skies. My walk in was about 45mins and I spent that time fuming and rehearsing arguments, that I’ll likely never have. I missed parts of the walk as I made myself grumpier and more unahppy. Only towards the end of the walk as I approached my usual haunt selecting a different site to set up and dropped my kit.
My kit was a Kifaru 14’r, with my Keith titanium canteen and mug in a homemade ‘skeleton’ carrier on my rucksack belt, walking poles, my possibles pouch, fleece (US military), merino (400 gms) zipped jumper, hat, gloves etc, my ‘tool kit’ (saw, knife, spoon knife, sharpening stone, GB mini-axe), tarp, camera, woodlore leather pouch (leatherman signal, dc4 stone, awl, dyneema cord, tape, thermarest sit pad, match safe, magnesium fire steel), homemade leather/canvas folded foraging pouch and hive stove. For water my canteen was full and I had a 3L bladder. Following my Woodlore Fundamental course I decided to invest in a Woodlore knife. I have had an Alan Wood Woodlore in the past but decided to move it on, stupidly on reflection. I cast around for a second hand one on BCUK and considered a Ben Orford Woodlander. I did go and see a Woodlore 30th Anniversary blade but I disliked the 30th Anniversary engraving on the blade. I’ve gone for one of the current Woodlore Bushcrafter by Emberleaf works. It’s a lovely knife with a micarta handle. I bought a Woodlore neck sheath to compliment it. I’ll do a write up on it at some time.
In honesty I didn’t have much of an idea of what to do bar rig a tarp, light a fire and have a brew so I set myself to that. I bought a DD lightweight tarp just prior to my Fundamental course but hadn’t used it. I learnt on the course how to rig it effectively and wanted to set up the rigging semi-permanently. I also wanted to rig it at an angle with a smaller front end sloping down. I set up my ridgeline tying the evenk and taut ridge hitches. They seemed to hold but there a high skill fade with such things so I need to keep my hand in. I struggled to secure my corners and tried using normal tent pegs. The ground was very soft so surprise surprise they pulled out. There were a number of hazel stands so I coppiced one pole and made a few tent pegs. I sharpened it with my mini axe bevelling the other end with my knife. Not a perfect rig but again it allowed me to identify some issues and work on them, a minor success. I cleared the dead leaves exposing the bare earth then got a brew on using my Hive stove using the ‘Woodlore’ fire lay. First time through a success. A brew is made and biscuits brown with peanut butter. Not diet friendly but I’d done my movement for the day according to my Apple watch and I had to walk back so l felt less guilty.
After lunch I set off on a bit of a wander of the area trying to identify the trees, other suitable sites for a camp and get a better lay of the land. We’d had a storm blow through a few weeks ago and I was hunting for a windfall I could trim a limb or two from to do some carving. No joy this time unfortunately but it’s something I’ll bear in mind with the bad weather coming in. Set up above the surrounding area there’s no water. Theres an old well at the bottom of the hill but it’s never been covered and god knows what’s been in it so I don’t even want to try it even after boiling. I’m thinking of trying a gypsy well to see if it can gather enough water to support a longer stay. I’ve noted a few sites and may take advantage of them in the future.
I decided to change my tarp pitch to a more traditional centre ridge line so I dropped it and made the necessary changes. The tarp was ok my rigging was not perfect but it stayed up. I could see a few stitch holes exposed when I had it rigged but it wasn’t damaged. I did reflect back to my Woodlore Fundamental course and the nights spent under the tarp, fondly I may add. I may give this tarp living another go although with a sleeping bag, tarp, bivvy bag etc although it’s as heavy as my usual tent.
I lit another fire again more for the practice to be honest. I used the Woodlore lay, although my start using the birch bark took a while. Down to my own laziness not processing the birch bark. I have access to birch bark without fear of damaging trees. I use beaver birch bark. There is a beaver den near to where I live and they’ve dropped quite a few birches. The beavers can’t access all the bark once the tree has been felled so I peel off the bits they can’t access, beaver birch bark. As I was processing the bark I knicked my finger and it bled a bit. Well if thats the worst damage I do to myself I’ll be happy. May all my nicks be small ones! Fire lit I made another brew, I was feeling so much better already.
It was quite a cold day made all the colder with the biting wind. The fire as small as it was gave out quite a bit of heat, laying on the ground next to it I could almost have fallen asleep. Alas I knew I needed to head back into reality and leave the wood. I supped my brew and let the fire burn itself out. It was so peaceful just chilling out, not something I get to do a lot of but this was a quality chill out session. All that was left in the Hive was the ashes I tipped them out on the ground then soaked the ground with the remnants of my water. I ensured the ground was cool then rinsed my hands. They taught us how to practice ‘leave no trace’ on the fundamental course. It was a little more thorough than I’d previoiusly done but not that much more work.
After restoring the area as best I could I made my way down the hill and walked back to the car. As I walked some of my earlier concerns resurfaced but I felt lighter at heart and I saw more during my return walk. Spending a day in the wood was just so cathartic I genuinely felt better by the time I got to the car. That added to practicing a few of the basic skills just made the day so much better.