Wilderness Survival Weekend
Recently I had the chance to do a survival weekend and field test some products from Iron Hammer. We tested some axes and a cool product called fisher spears. I’ve never done anything like this before so I wasn’t 100% sure what to pack but I made my best guess.
The products we used were his ‘Bastard’ line of axes and the Fisher Spears that I’ve used before. They are old school tools but they still have a serious place as tools.
Below is some of the notes I took while editing the video.
We started off with 4 people and two others were going to rendevous with us from another direction later in the day. After gearing up with the Iron Hammer products and our packs, we set out.
It was pretty obvious to Martin from Iron Hammer that we didn’t really know how to use the axes to their greatest potential. Once he gave us a couple of pointers they became our main tools for the trip. Everything can be solved with an axe.
Our hike in was about 10 miles and Frank and I were in charge of navigation. We hadn’t done anything like this before and mistakes were made. Martin and guy kept us from making any terrible mistakes.
We came across a pond and were able to use our water options. There were a bunch of different options from filtered pumps, to life straws and more. They all worked well for us.
We weren’t really hungry yet, but expected to be able to take some game of some sort.
On the way, we learned about edible plants and more. We searched for grubs, grasshoppers, termites, anything that we could eat later for some energy. Grass is not the best thing ever, but it kept your mouth wet.
Hiking in with the pack really instills how important it is to be as light as possible. You get tired. This was probably one of the toughest hikes I’ve been on.
We were struck by the lack of wildlife. We saw very few animals, found very few edible plants. The forest had plenty of flora, but no fauna.
We took a bit longer than originally planned to reach the rendevous point which lead to some night hiking. We were also getting really tired, and definitely suffering the effects of no food. You can see the cracks showing mentally.
Knowing we were running late and nightfall was coming, we started trying to reach our second group via radio. Then it got dark.
We had a couple of water crossings after dark. Martin was able to give us some pointers to minimize damage if anyone made a mistake.
Once we identified a spot to make camp, we identified priorities and set teams to accomplish them. Frank and I were assigned to start a fire while Martin and Guy located rocks to ring the fire.
Once the fire was going, we all went out to search for bedding to create some separation from our bodies and the cold hard ground. We gathered field grass and sage for a while with the last reserves of our energy. It was well worth it even though at the time it seemed a pointless task.
After fire and shelter needs were taken care of, we took to replenishing our energy. I mentioned that the mountain was void of wildlife and our foraging efforts were tough this late in the season. We had to go to emergency rations to keep up some energy for the hike the following day. We hit some Ramen Noodles for carbs and sodium. Multiple methods were used, some ate it dry and some ate it soggy, either way it was welcome.
In a real survival situation, this would have been tough. A full day of hiking and energy expenditures with nothing to replenish creates a situation that is extremely dangerous.
As we ate, we established contact with the second group. Martin headed out and grabbed them and we all sat down and for the first time had some good laughs and relaxed for a minute. The good spirits were short lived though as we bedded down and the temperature plummeted. Fire became the only important thing.
Night fell along with our spirits. We woke up often as different members tended the fire. It was a cold dark night and we couldn’t wait for morning to come. As tired as we were, daylight and the warmth of the sun suddenly became the object of our yearning.
Morning broke and our spirits were still high. Something about being with your friends makes things more bearable.
Our minds once again turned to food and energy as we made fishing poles out of paracord and aspen saplings. You could tell we had gotten much better with the axes and they had become our most used piece of kit.
So we fished.
And we fished.
And we fished.
Jason caught 4, Martin caught one and rest of us caught nothing. The fish were smaller than we would normally eat, but we were hungry.
Thankfully they shared and we got some energy from a few bites of fish. After some food we got water and made some spears with the Iron Hammer fisher spears and our fishing poles. The plan was to hunt our way out. lol.
Our various aches and pains and lack of food made the trek out difficult, but we banded together and got out. The bond is strong. Between laughs, dreams of Mountain Dew and plain stubborness, we got out.