July 22, 2014
Explore Edisto staff got their survival skills tuned up at the Environmental Learning Center. We are now (slightly more) ready to take on whatever the Edisto wilderness can throw at us…..
S.T.O.P. Stop, Think, Observe, Plan. This was the first lesson we learned during our Coastal Survival Class at the Education Learning Center on Edisto. Our instructor Ashby Gale, works for the park service, and was very enthusiastic and well versed in outdoor survival skills. To be quite honest, I think the acronym for STOP works in all sticky situations in life. What good happens when you go off half-cocked and with no plan? It doesn't typically work out for the best, no matter where you are.
Our group of about 11 was a good mix of ages and everyone there seemed genuinely interested in survival skills and scenarios. The second lesson we learned was packing your daypack just in case you do get lost. In all my days of hiking, I have never packed a day pack. Good thing I never got lost. So allow me to give you a quick run-down of the recommended items that will make your survival much easier
• Flint and steel
• First Aid Kit with cotton balls and alcohol wipes
• Bug Spray
• Small Plastic Container
Quickly note that bug spray and the alcohol wipes are highly flammable and thus very useful to create FIRE! A small plastic container such as a sandwich box could be used to create a solar still along with the poncho. It was surprisingly easy to make the solar still, but seems like it would take a long time to produce more than a gulp of water, so you better hope you get lost alone, or pack a lot of ponchos. All kidding aside, drinking the salty water around here is not a good idea. Ashby did tell us that you could tie baggies around leaves on the end of branches and harvest water that way as well.
Next, we discussed some edible plants and sampled them. They were only just edible, but who can be picky when your survival is at stake?
About the food, which there will be almost none, you can survive three weeks without food. Three weeks! So let us go over the rule of 3’s
You can survive:
3 seconds without hope!! (Drama)
3 hours in extreme cold or heat without shelter (I disagree about the cold part, but what do I know)
3 days without water (assuming you are already well hydrated. Beer does NOT count)
3 weeks without food (leaves and grubs, here we come)
3 months without entertainment or stimulation of the mind (I’m thinking that surviving in the wild for 3 months seems extremely stimulating to the mind)
Now for the all-important FIRE!!
Building fire from scratch is not a simple task. Due to time restrains we didn’t get to try to make fire ourselves but Ashby did give a great demonstration on two methods of producing fire. He also taught us the proper way to set up your sticks to create a lasting fire. Create tender using the cotton balls mentioned above inside a nest of pine straw or dried palm fronds. Key word, my fellow survivors, is dry. Ashby called his method of fire building the teepee style. Yes you put your sticks up like a teepee. Tiny finger length twigs on the interior, followed by finger sized twigs then wrist bone sized sticks. The teepee of sticks was very dense; he used a lot of sticks. He left a "door” for the tender nest in the front.
I won’t try to transcribe creating fire with the bow friction method he demonstrated. It is a hard process but I think I am pretty dedicated to try it until I succeed at it. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the end the flint and steel method provided the flame for our fire.
Overall the class was great fun and very enlightening. Preparation is key before starting out to enjoy the great outdoors. We certainly learned how to do things that we, no doubt, would have never been able figured out on our own. As we plan for future adventures exploring the island, care to better prepare, even for short trips will now be taken. If you are interested in joining on of the classes held at the Environmental Learning Center, visit their website at www.southcarolinastateparks.com and search Edisto.