We started out with the basics of tracking. We split up into groups and used our skills of point person and wings to track someone who was hiding in the woods. We learned to look not just for the prints but what story they told us. Was the person running? Did they stop to think? Did they lean against the tree to rest? We "worked our edge," using what we learned in our mini lesson on prints, our ever growing nature awareness and our own intuition to track our teammates. Everyone got a chance to be all positions and hide. The weather was warmer and the snow was softer than Day 2, making for easier tracking, but as with all the skills we are learning, some things come more easily to some of us.
After lunch we ventured onto a south facing bank where the snow was minimal and there was plenty of debris to meet the challenge of making shelter, to withstand the rain and cold, with nothing but what the landscape gave us. It took a lot of hard work. Some of our group found their edge in just getting dirty, others found it with getting the perfect ridge pole, some found their edge with staying focused on a long term task, and some found peace in the task of raking many many leaves. In the end the efforts of the group made a single person debris shelter that would keep you warm enough to survive the cold night, and it passed the water bucket test with only one tiny drip.
After all the hard work we put into our shelter we settled in the parking lot for our first taste of using a bow drill to start a fire. Frustration was at a high as spindles were popping out and form was tough to find. Then...there was smoke for a few and the idea that it was possible for anyone of us was real. Another example of how somethings are so difficult for some and come more easily for others.
The idea of communal knowledge being a key to survival is really starting to take shape. The idea that "survival" is not suffering but rather being efficient and comfortable, always making your situation a little better, being aware that what you are putting out and what you are receiving from the landscape around you are in balance.