Cooking in the wilderness…where do we go from here…?

Like hikers and walkers the world over, all of us rely on lightweight cooking utensils that are easy to carry and easy to wash.

And unfortunately, these characteristics are only available, at present, with aluminium (or if you’re in the USA…aluminum!) cook ware.

All my pots, pans etc are made out of this stuff, aside of one or two stainless spoons I carry, out of habit more than anything else.

But what I noticed a few days ago when I was drying my pots gave me one hell of a fright….take a look at those photos below….it’s a paper tissue that I used to wipe dry my cooking pot.

 

Picture 779 Picture 778

 

And no, that isn’t dirt or anything else on that tissue….the pot was sparkling clean, with just a little water left on it’s surface……that is aluminium residue coming off with every wipe! So every time we cook in our pots, a little of that aluminium gets mixed into our food….

And you should know that aluminium residues coming off during cooking have been implicated in several problems, including Alzheimer’s disease.

So what do we do? In short, that’s a damn tough one to answer!

Throw away all our aluminium pots and pans, and what do we cook in then?

Unless we buy stainless steel stuff, but of course, that’s gonna make a change to how much we can carry, as I think I’m right in saying…correct me if I’m wrong somebody….that steel is heavier than aluminium, weight for weight.

Did someone mention Teflon? That’s been implicated with cancer recently…!

Anybody have any ideas?

:0

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What to eat to save your life in the wilderness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rather disturbing title and one which is even more important than some of the subjects we’ve covered here before, like fire, water or shelter.

Without food, and especially if we are stuck in a very cold or very dry situation, our survival will depend on what we have available to eat, be that in freeze-dried packs that you managed to bring with you, or whatever may be around you.

Let me say straight away here that if you’re a vegetarian, and you are very definitely not going to eat any animal matter to survive, then it could well be a case of kissing goodbye to your life!  In a life or death situation, life is more sacrosanct than ideological standpoints. Harsh as it may sound, given the choice of starving to death or surviving by eating animals, I know which one I would opt for.

So, let’s assume that you have decided that you will eat whatever is nearby or at hand. What do we eat?

Well, the biggest group of live food is the insects. Ok, ok…I know….instant yuck! Despite being some of the most horrible or ugly-looking creatures on the planet, once we overcome our very natural aversion to eating them, it’s surprising how much nutrition they can provide in an emergency.

Fine; now a little friendly advice…if you have a weak stomach and get queasy just at the mention of eating insects, look away now! I’m about to tell you how to go about collecting, preparing and eating various creepy-crawlies!

Where do you find them? Depending upon terrain, the most likely places will be under stones and rocks, in rocky crevices, in rotting trees or logs, even under loose bark of live trees.

Beetles, grasshoppers etc all have hard shells, so either remove them before eating or throw them onto a fire if you have one going; they will die almost instantly and be ready to eat in less than 30 seconds or so. If you are in a dire emergency you can of course eat them as they are.

Th taste will vary, but remember we are not interested in that at the moment…it’s a pure survival thing we are aiming at.

If you cannot eat them as they are, they can be ground up into a paste and eaten that way, or by heating them in a pan over the fire. Earthworms can be washed and eaten raw or thrown in a pan and boiled.

If you are stranded in a watery environment, then water-living creatures are a good bet. Almost all kinds of fish can be eaten, but do remember that some species may be carrying dangerous parasites, in which case always cook the fish first. Some fish may have poisons within their bodies, especially saltwater fish, so you should either know which types of fish are poisonous or if unsure, leave well alone.

The same goes for shelled molluscs. Most are harmless, but beware of eating molluscs that are not covered by water at high tide, as these may be poisonous. All molluscs can be eaten raw, but it’s better to boil them in water to kill any parasites that may co-exist within.

Which insects and animals do we need to avoid? Well, Nature provides us with a very important signal — any insect or animal that is brightly coloured should be left well alone; the colour is a warning sign! The same goes for any insect, frog, lizard etc which smells bad….

I have deliberately left out any information regarding bigger animals such as deer, hogs, etc etc as capturing these may not be possible when you are stranded, and indeed may well take far too long, by which time your energy levels will be severely diminished. Leave that prize moose you always wanted to shoot for another day!

At the end of the day, your survival depends on preparation. Always, always make sure you pack enough emergency rations. That way, you may not need to fall back on the horrible critters we’ve been talking about here!

 

 

 

 

 

Basic wilderness survival — Shelter

Continuing with my recent post about some of the very critical things we just cannot do without when hiking in the wild places, is shelter.

I once read somewhere that the number 3 quantifies a whole range of actions that wilderness users are always up against. For example,  a person can supposedly live without air for a max of 3 minutes, without shelter for 3 hours, without water for 3 days and without food for 3 weeks. So shelter is the second most important thing that governs how long we can survive in the open.

And of course, if hiking in extreme cold, I wouldn’t like to bet that I’d last even 3 hours….I well remember being caught out in the extreme cold in Ontario once, when the temperature was -25C and with the wind chill factor added to that, it was -35C…yes, -35C! At that temperature, any exposed skin freezes solid within seconds.

So anyway, shelter, and knowing how to construct it with whatever is available, is of paramount importance.

Here, I’m going to talk about a very simple, but potentially life-saving shelter that can be constructed quite quickly and will keep you safe and snug for many days, until such a time when you decide to move on or can construct a more solid version.

This kind of shelter relies on us finding a fallen tree, under which all that needs to be done is to gather a few long branches, lay them at an angle with one end resting on the tree or log and the other end on the ground.

ONce those branches are in place, the gaps between them are covered up with smaller branches, moss or twigs — if these have leaves on, so much the better as they keep the rain out and act as insulation, too.

Again, depending on your location, you can use a pile of leaves for floor insulation as well, or if no leaves, then smaller branches or dry moss will do just as well. The reason for this is that the worst you can do having made your shelter, is to lie on the bare floor. Doing that will cause loss of body heat, which is the last the thing you need in a life-threatening situation.

One final idea is to keep a small fire going in front of the entrance to your shelter. Just having a fire going will be enough to keep you warm and dry and also allowing you to prepare your meals. The heat from the fire will be reflected to an extent into the shelter, keeping that dry, too. The simple diagram below shows how to go about building this shelter.

 

If you happen to be carrying a tarpaulin and rope with you, then your task is so much easier. All you have to do is tie the rope between two trees and simply throw the tarpaulin over the rope and put some rocks or weights to hold it down at the edges. Easy as that!

There are as many variations on this theme as you can imagine, but the main point is that having a shelter will do wonders for your morale, aside of keeping you warm.