The First four days are the hardest because you will be transitioning from a domesticated lifestyle to a feral one and it takes effort and understanding to accomplish this.  The effort is a massive and wise investment in calories before they run out.  The understanding is that you have about four days to secure an effective shelter, viable water source and a method to store in, fire to purify water, cook food, shape tools and add warmth to your radiant heat dependent shelter, and food.  A purist might fancy running in to the woods fr2616053120103934423zXSjIC_phesh off the corn syrup addiction and in to full survival. Oh, joy!

It would be just that too, “survival”.  “Body by Lazy Boy” doesn’t quite meet the expectations of the forest.  First, it’s all loud, sweet and puffy.  A portable mosquito buffet ringing it’s own dinner bell has come to play wild boy.  You go in to build a debris hut and it doesn’t take long for your mind to fixate on how much work it actually is.  Suddenly the bugs start feasting on your flaccid domesticated carcass, and before you know it, your convinced that mosquitos and your romantic vision of life in the bush need to have a reconciliation.



This doesn’t mean you have to always depended on a mediocre set of skills half memorized and barely applied from the boy scouts or the military.  You can still work your “edge”.  That means you must develop some procedures and benchmarks.  You already have the first one.  “The First Four Days Are The Hardest” is at once a realization and a goal.  Start with the equipment you would normally haul in that Winnebago Camper sized backpack of yours and decide to see how long you can last with just a knife, water bottle, and matches.  Remember, you must work at your skills long enough to build the stamina to make it the first four days . . .plus one.  In the first day, shelter and fire, not necessarily in that order, are a top priority.  If you depend on a tent, move to a tarp.  If you already use a tarp, bring it, but see if you can build a shelter better than a tarp.  You should always have your fall back, but it should never “fall back” to the original level of. . .tent camping.  After a while you’ll be building a debris hut more comfortable then your bed as your “fall back” (in case it gets thick with mosquitos) and making a grass mat to sleep under the stars in a big hay field.

Stacking functions is also a skill you’ll develop.  In a solo situation it may take five to ten years to iron out the major blockages in your transition from a domesticated hominid to a more feral one.  In tarp and ferro rod camping you can get a shelter and boiling water in under ten minutes.  The secret is in sequencing events so that one job can take care of itself and another while you tend to a third task.  The “Sacred Order” of Survival is still an important way to prioritize ones needs, but it doesn’t have to be the way it manifests in your campsite.  Gathering materials for a fire while looking for the best shelter location and then getting your fire made and your water container nestled in to the igniting twigs so you can build your shelter is a great way to stream line events and save calorie investment for food procurement. DSCN1300

This, of course, takes technology.  Technology makes things easy and accessible. Metal pots and ferro rods are technology.  So is rope and tarps. Technology is not “evil”, but it is a poor substitute for community.  It can, through ease and accessibility, cause one to lose their skills “edge” and their appreciation for the things that keep us alive because they come too easy.  Lack of skill and lack of thankfulness make the difference between someone who suffers in the woods and someone who thrives.


The First Four Days are the Hardest because, without metal tools, you have to make a cutting edge and braiding tools to replace your knife.  You need to peel and bend smooth bark in to a water container, or use a hide, or coal burned log big enough to boil a days supply to two weeks worth of water.  The more water you can store, the better. The first benchmark to aim for is four days plus one, working your edge until, after multiple trips and trials, you have it down to stone tools, shelter, water, fire, and food for two weeks off the landscape.  If, after day four, if you haven’t a warm and effective shelter, a good cooking fire with plenty of wood, and enough food and water for the next two weeks, your skills are insufficient.  That’s your second benchmark.  .. enough for two weeks and the energy on day five to scout for your next location before you hunt, fish, and forage your current site toward depletion.  Keep in mind, that after the third or fourth week, you should be planning your migratory seasonal routes for the coming years.  It is important to learn how the original nations of your area dealt with seasonal availabilities and challenges.

Benchmark number three, is seasonal survival skills toward comfort for thirty days or more.  Here is where it starts to creep in to your daily life.  Starting your wood stove with nothing but hand drill for the entire winter or making a new trap from the sticks and knife you deliberately leave in the bathroom magazine rack every time you enjoy your morning constitutional. These things may seem obsessive, but they have to be if you intend to effectively rewrite your baseline abilities, behaviors, and perspective.

The First Four Days are the Hardest until you realize that you can track the Bobcat through the balsam fir needles toward your chicken coop, and your growing imported wild plants for food and medicine.  It is at that point that the shift has been made.  Every calorie is sacred, even the ones we don’t eat.  When we are not hungry, tired, thirsty, or afraid in the woods, we ca work hard with the landscape to increase it’s bounty.  The fourth and final benchmark is that your newly and hard earned baseline behavior is that you invest yourself fully in what gets you out of bed each morning and in your wake your passion for what you do has manifested bounty in your life, your home, and your community.