Winter Survival 101

By Mark Stash

 

Winter is coming. It’s a fact of life that happens every year. Some winters are more brutal than others, but we can all agree that even a mild winter has its share of very cold days.

Today, modern conveniences are a way of life for many people. We can sleep in our climate-controlled homes and drink delicious coffee in our state-of-the-art kitchens. We may have to step outside for a bit – gasp – to clean snow off our car and turn it on to heat things up. But, then we drive off in a warm car on dependable tires that take us to another heated building, where we work in comfort all day long. And at the end of the day, there’s nothing like coming home to a hot, home-cooked meal and sitting on a nice comfy couch and catching up on some television episodes on Netflix.

Winter, at the very least, is a minor inconvenience compared to what our ancient ancestors had to deal with on a daily basis. They had real concerns about daily living: What will I have to gather or kill today so I can eat? Will my shelter hold up under the heavy snow that’s falling right now? How are my feet going to stay warm enough so they don’t freeze?

Aren’t we lucky that most of us don’t have to be concerned with those kinds of tests? At the same time, it’s not a bad thing to still experience a little bit of those challenges today – once in a while – just so we don’t lose that closeness to the earth that we all share.

“Winter Over – Outdoor Survival” on page 46 is excerpted from a book written by Dave Hall with Jon Ulrich. It goes into detail about the crafts and skills needed to survive outdoors during the winter, using minimal materials. It really is fascinating how one can take bark from a tree and fashion a container for cooking from it. Or make warm and comfortable winter shoes from leather, netting and grasses for insulation.
Dave’s reasoning for both studying and teaching winter outdoor survival is stated in the opening section of the article. Dave states,  “Because the driving force behind primitive survival is that all of our needs can be met through a deep and meaningful relationship with the earth, it was necessary that I learn to meet these needs without the aid of gear or technology.”
Within the article there are three exercises listed. Take up the challenge and try them (although the seat cushion may be a bit difficult for most because of the materials needed).
You might be surprised by how capable you really are, in spite of our dependency on modern life.