On Discovering Self

"Walk in Peace... Learn from Nature... Find Yourself...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Saturday Adventure And The Ottomani Sun Compass

   About one month ago, so even before the bushcraft trip that I made to the Richard J. Dorer Memorial State Forest with my pal Sticker, I went out for a regular Saturday morning meet up. After waiting around for a bit I found myself more then ready to go on a solo adventure.
   As it is with most of my solo adventures, I try to focus on practicing skills along with the chance to get out and observe and relax and to think about the things that matter most.
   Now recently, my focus has been on boning up on my navigation skills along with those needed for direction finding and map making. And on this particular Saturday, although it was overcast and just a bit on the chilly side, I decided to make myself an Ottomani Sun Compass.
   The Ottomani Sun Compass is basically a portable "shadow stick method" of telling which way is east to west and from there "calculating" north and south, that is to say "solar" north to south as opposed to "magnetic" north to south. One advantage to this method is that you do not need to wait for the sun to move thru the sky in order to establish an east to west line, that part is built into the "compass." All that is needed is to line up the point of the shadow of the compasses vertical indicator with an already established "east to west" calibrated line on the compass base. The calibrated east west lines drawn on the compass are to adapt to the changing seasons and the rise and fall of the sun above and below the equator as it moves thru the year.
   As you can see thru the following video, I harvested the pieces I need to construct the compass from the materials I found in the bush and fashioned them in to the compass base and pointer. Then later I went out on a clear and sunny day, actually it was on Mother's Day, and calibrated the compass using the "shadow stick" method.
   So here is the video and I hope you enjoy it.

      Having the ability to find your direction with a number of different methods is a good thing to add to your bushcraft mentality. Finding the right materials and improvising with them is key to making the tools you will need to be comfortable in the wilderness.
   I hope you found this little adventure with the Ottomani Sun Compass inspirational and that you  will want to try making one the next time you are out on the trail. Thank you for watching and until next time, Happy Exploring.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Improvised Gravity Feed Water Filter

   In large part, survival is about conserving energy. With Bushcraft, if you have found that kinship with the landscape that is often spoken of by Ray Mears, you have the resources and the energies you need available to you, right in your most immediate surroundings.
   Bushcraft holds many of the answers to the "Rule of Three For Survival" that are so often talked about in survival courses and self reliance training.
   To review those intervals of time that have to do with your survival, they are:
Three Minutes needed before you need breathable air.
Three Hours to regulate body heat and to mitigate hypothermia (cold body core temp) or hyperthermia (body core temp is to high) thru shelter or other external means.
Three Days to solve the drinkable water equation.
Three weeks before starvation and maybe ultimately...
Three months before psychological help is needed to address the slow madness that creeps in with isolation from other humans.
   These needs are also sometimes addressed with what is called the "Sacred Order of Survival" which is basically: shelter first, then water, then fire, and then lastly food.
   Everytime I head out on a bushcraft adventure, I go out with the idea of practicing bushcraft skills and addressing some part of the "Rule of Three" or the "Sacred Order." I also focus on using and improving my relationship with the top five of what some would call the"10 C's." Those top five are: Cut, Combustion, Container, Cordage and Cover. And with those in mind, nearly every adventure includes some knifecraft, firecraft, boiling or collecting water, playing with natural cordages and building or improvising shelters.
   I find that even if I am in a group of people, with friends like you who are interested in bushcraft, that if I work to have everyone focus at some point on these five things, on the Rule of Threes or the Sacred Order, that we come away from every adventure with having learned the most important of the basics that allow us to be at home in the wilderness. It is then that we can begin to thrive instead of survive.
   On a recent hike out to one of my favorite places by a lake, I decided to experiment with a water filter that I purchased for around $20 called the Aquamira Frontier Pro. Usually I connect a Platypus folding water bottle to it and with slight pressure, force the water thru the filter and into my water bottle or canteen or canteen cup. It is effective, but requires that I pay attention to it.
  On this day, I decided to filter my water unattended by building a simple tripod, connecting a sacrificial plastic bottle to it so that I could cut some "vent holes" and letting gravity do the rest.
   Here is a video of my simple project and my way of conserving my energy and letting it do the work for me.

  After practicing a few other skills I was ready to head home and felt that at least for this adventure, I had addressed my water needs with a simple bushcrafted solution. I will do this setup again. Having a water filter along for the summer will prove invaluable and I am going to try next my MSR Miniworks filter. I will let you all know how that works. Until next time, Happy Exploring.