Monday, January 26, 2009

A Muddy Walk

Spent three and a half hours walking around the woods today, mostly off of the beaten track in order to avoid the quagmire that was on the main paths. Aside from the daft Nordic Walkers - women over 50 who drag a pair of poles behind them rather than putting weight on them - the woods were mostly empty.
There wasn't really a lot of movement in the woods today, far more "dead" than it was at minus 10 with all the snow. Apart from hearing woodpeckers, seeing a few magpies and bluetits there wasn't a lot of life to be seen.
I picked up a couple of bits of birch bark as usual, you never know when they'll be useful! I could have got a lot more as I found a fallen birch which had been kept up off of the ground. However, on closer inspection it was none too safe to be near as it was rather wobbly and I don't really fancy having a tree falling on me.
I also picked up about a foot long length of pine, wrist thick, that'll be for some carving practice with over the coming days. Sawing through it with the saw on my SAK took around 15 mins and gave me hand cramp - not very efficient and I think I'll get a folding saw next time I go to the garden centre. I stripped the inner and outer bark off quickly with my Mora so it'll dry faster and I can get on with splitting and then carving it.
I finished carving a whistle I started last week from a piece of alder whilst waiting for a bus. The whistle looks great but doesn't whistle! Rather a failure there to be honest, time to look for a bit more info and try again. As with so many bushcraft skills - it doesn't matter how nice it looks - if it doesn't work it is no good.
I covered a fair distance - it took me 35 mins of continous walking to get back to near Tesco (last building before the woods) - by my reckoning this should equate to about 2.5km and this was only one side of a triangle.
I did take a few pictures of some fungi that I was surprised to find after the snow and cold. I found a small colony of dried out puff-ball type fungi which were all between 1 and 2 inches across (mostly towards the smaller end) and prodded them so as to produce the lovely whispy clouds of mushroom smelling spores - not only is this fun but also encourages them to grow next year.
I also found an old horse shoe mushroom somewhat covered in moss and saw quite a few birch polypores on the downed birches.
The poor condition of the paths has made me consider putting off Wednesday's trip - going to a wetter area when a dry one is very muddy seems a daft thing to do.