Category Archives: Training Journals

Intermediate Training Journal- Outing #1

So just like I posted up some of the random journal notes of my Advanced certification- I decided to do the same with some of the entries from my Intermediate as well.

20 October 2014 (Lake Tahoe Nevada)

Traveling from Boise to San Jose for business, I stopped of in Reno. My target was the area around Truckee– but I was too tired to push on. So I hooked up a nice stay in Reno at the Nugget…. forgetting that no matter how hard you try to sleep— nobody else in the hotel is.

Finally around 3am I had enough– checked out and drove West in the dark. I found a boat lauch/state park on the NE side of the lake. The attendant was just opening up for a couple of guys in boats to he let me in as well. 

My Jeep was pretty well packed and I couldn’t lean the seats back to sleep. So I grabbed a couple wool blankets and tried to get comfortable on the picnic table, then in a couple of pine trees on the boundary, and then eventually leaning on some rocks.

I woke to one of the most amazing sights— I had no idea the lake was so big. 

I baked Bannoch bread and scrounged for stuff to try to light for my natural tenders assignment. I did find an abandoned raft that had been ripped up, salvaged some webbing on it, and threw in my pack for a later experiment.


Advanced Training Journal- Outing #15

This is the last journal entry from the advanced series. As time permits I will add pictures and video to it. I will also continue on with my postings from other training sessions where I provided journal or other updates in the training.

Journaling is an important aspect to survival and bushcraft training. Its a great way to not only reflect on what you have learned and a measurement of previous experience, but also provides a road map for yourself as you gain new experience.

10 February 2015

Outing #15 today— a quick journal entry here…. Keeping a written journal has been an important part of this– I wish I had done it more consistently in the other two phases—and why I didn’t is beyond me. I keep journals on a regular basis, require my team to do so, and I even did it when going through  Pathfinder. 

I needed a day away. Had dealt with a bear on my back the past few days— was able to shake it and feeling much better. Took Friday off because I was exhausted- even after a restful weekend of doing little projects– I was beat. Part of that may be due to getting sick—or just being tired with the wrestling of emotions—-either way—500% better…..

So I burned another day of vacation…. around 11 am felt good enough to grab the dogs and head to Lake Lowell. Really havene’t spent much time there. I usually fly over it (I’m a private pilot and my co-op aircraft sits just off Lake Lowell in Nampa).

Spent most of my time wondering the area, collecting and testing possible cordage candidates, and collecting various items for charring….still one of my favorite activities. Will post pics later if I can find a card to pull them off my camera.

Did get home to play in my “BushLab” where I made two improvised charrs…. one actually a hammock, the other from an old T10 parachute.

I will continue to add to my trip reports and journal entries for Advanced.

Advanced Training Journal- Outing #14

This is entry number 14 from advanced training. This was specifically a photo shoot for an article I wrote for TCT Magazine

I just wrote an another article for a Toyota Overlanding Magazine. We were told that we could provide pics then we could get a bit more coin out of it—or at least get the shots we want from the photo team. So we used this as an opportunity for a Basic outing (Melissa) and Intermediate (Abeni) and then my Advanced.

Sunny day along the Payette in one of our favorite areas. I also used it as an opportunity to collect punk wood and cotton wood bark for charring, willow and cotton wood inner bark for cordage, and also cotton wood, willow, and some other tree I am not sure of (Juniper?) for hearths, bows, and spindles for bow drills….also inner bark to dry out for Stone who donated a ton to us last week.

Will post vids later—for now—- pics….


Advanced Training Journal- Outing #13

Adding more from my journal entries– as stated before there may be a few outing missing or they are combined with other events.

30 January 2015

First sunny day in a while so I took off work a but early to get some dirt time. Re-explored a postage-stamp size area arounf the warm sprins drive and boise river area….I used to drive RC cars here all the time.

Hit the woods to do some tracking, look for some cotton wood bark for a bearing block (no luck) a few pieces for hearths (did good), and material to make cordage (questionable).


One Stick Fires

As part of the advanced training we were required to do several one-stick fires….something I still use to this day…

#1- Poplar

Working with a couple of coaches proved to be valuable. xxxx and yyyy showed me where I had been making my mistake on my tinder bundle. Much of it was using the wrong wood—I had been using some pines that would not take a propper spark. I also needed a bit of help with making a proper tinder bundle and not the stuff that got me by in Intermediate… 

I used Poplar for this one. xxxx had given me a few sticks to work with. I used a Gerber LMF II and a ferro rod. Another important point is that with the LMF, xxxx had me change the angle my serrated edge made contact with the grain of the wood. This made a huge difference in the shavings and tinder greated when processing the wood.

I created a good size bundle, made sure I had organized my shavings, pencil lead, pencil and thumd size pieces….and the fire worked wonderfully!


#2 – Basswood

Had thisBasswood from carving stock and wanted to experiment. The one-stick only allows you to use one tool, one stick, and no accelerants. Used my Trail Hawk as the tool.


#3 Maple

Have spent most of my time working with a few others, getting them enrolled in BCUSA and Bushclass, working with Melissa and Abeni on their projects, and of course my highly stressful day job. So I took an evening to play with my new Tom Brown Tracker and making another One-Stick Fire out under the T-10.

For this one I used Maple, a wood I was not familiar with in the application of fire. It was definitely harder than the Basswood I had been playing with. This was another carving chunk I decided to sacrifice (yep–a $12 fire here) , but I didn’t have time to look far anything else, and with my schedule, locating fire wood is going to be a challenge anyway.

As a side note—all Tom Brown Trackers should come complete with a box of Band-Aids…. just say’n

#4 Mountain Cedar (25 January 2015)

I decided on doing an overnighter since my house was invaded by a band of warrior princesses for a birthday party…

So other than getting some dirt time with my pup, I decided to work on a few projects—one of them being my One-Sticks…. it also created the opportunity to play with my new BushCraft knife–the BOB from TOPS knives. 

For this one I used moutain cedar. It was pulled out a few years ago when the house next door burned down. So its been sesoning for a few years.

Dirt Time also included a few visits from the wife to hang out when the teen-age environment proved to be too much. She decided to pull out her camera and take pics of the fire—so I asked her to take pics of the one-stick attempt. Blowing these into a video was fun and a different media than I am used to–its actually much easier and my move to photo essays for everything else from this point on…

#5 Willow



Time Out to Get Training

Adding more to my collection of journal entries— this is from a point I had to take a time out and get some coaching on my own fire skills…


31 December 2014

I have struggled with the one-stick fires—mainly with sparking the tinder pile. So I had a chance to work with two highly accomplished outdoorsmen…xxxx xxxxxx and yyyyy yyyyyy. I swear, these guys could light wet concrete if asked to….

xxxxxx was real good about working with me and showing me where I was making a minor mistake— it was all about creating fine shavings and keeping the tinder bundle tight. After a few minutes, I had it down and even experimented with different edge tools. The guy is crazy awesome with a blade…undersands the tool dynamics, and is open to share his experience. yyyyy is equally accomplished n the woods and his quiet confidence is contagious. Abeni and I had an awesome time. We also talked wood types (another mistake- my wood has had too much pitch in it) and making cordage. 

I figure I am pretty good at this stuff and admit– it was difficult to admit I couldn’t do or figure out where I was failing. But having a community that encourages and teaches rather than judges and patronizes you is why I love being a part of it. I gained a huge education today!



Advanced Training Journal- Outing #11

Adding agin to my journal entries from advanced training…

31 December 2014 (Montour)

Something was stiring inside me and I don’t know what it was. I needed to be outside today. Odd- because its cold and I really hate cold. Below are my thoughts on cold transposed from journal on this outing when I asked myseld “Why do you hate the cold?”

“As a young troop I got hit with hypothermia in one of the courses I was attending while stationed in Germany

I had progressed well in a very difficult course….not stellar and not at the last of the pack, but well enough to not draw attention to myself. I was hungry, deprived of sleep, and placed under stress.

The course was set up so every man would have a chance to lead, sub lead, and of course follow. I had just come off my mission, a recon of a camp and I had done very well. This was good, because in my first attempt I had failed when my whole squad fell asleep on an Ambush. At least now, I had been vendicated. It was during our next mission I grew to hate the cold. We were bringing an assault team in on a makeshift raft we had to build. This was my first exposure to lashing. It was fascinating how we could build a few of these to hold our team. However, as the raft approaches the shore, two men have to slide off into the water to guide it the rest of the way in. It wasn’t my turn to do this, but my team mate who was already suffering from exhaustion and cold hesitated going in on the order to do so. I took his place and into the icy waters I went.

You were supposed to slide in just about waist high. As I went in, it became evident that I was in deeper than waist high water. I became fully submerged. Ruck, battle gear, weapon….everything under. Team mates pulled me back up. Apparently I found the one deep spot in the entire shallow lake.

Over the next few hours of being wet and cold…with temps in the 40’s….I continued to lose body heat. By the time the medic checked me out my core temp was 95 degrees. I had become good pals with a team mate since we were both naked and unafraid…and “snuggling” in a bag. I was consuming coffee and cocoa when I could. I was given a choice–get warm and get my temp back up or drop from the course and stay the remainder (two days) of training in the warm huts of the “POW” compound. I chose to stay and finish.”

So my outing did include some outdoor activity. I collected cattail, tested a Life Straw for charateristics in sub-frezing temps (12-15 degrees), and tested cattail for burnability when collected in the cold. Also collected pics of trees I wanted to identify.

I wound up heading back so I coud work on my One-Stick fires at the advanced level.

Advanced Training Journal- Outing #10

Yes- journal entry #9 is missing– it didn’t get posted and is somewhere in hard copy. These are entries from my advanced work that had been posted…

I wanted some 1×1 with my bride (Sport1996) and a chance to decompress, work on skills if she wanted, recon an area to do some training, and get her into observing wildlife.

First huge success on all parts. I took her to my “secret spot” where she had a chance to glass about 25 Antelope. We did a bit of tracking, and saw some fantastic areas. All this was near Haggerman, Idaho. I also took her out to the Malad River where we gathered more wood for her to practice twig fires. There is a spot that deposits MILLIONS of twigs of various woods when the river runs high…and it makes easy pickings for gathering wood for multiple practice fires when doing backyard bushcraft.

I also identified an area where we can work on some skills with the family on an upcoming overnighter.

All in all–great day to just spend time and refill her emotional tank. Treated her to a great lunch and spent time walking the river…even did some bouldering.


Advanced Training Journal- Outing #8

As I said on previous post– these are random journal entries from a class I did– so not sure why I can’t find entry #7—so here we go with #8. Maybe I will find it later….

Starting temp was 35 and it will dropped to the teens…..I used this outing to help Abby complete her BushClass Basic.

28 Dec 2014

She got a fire going, has her tarp up, and has run the Overnight as her own. She is wrapped in her wool blankets, has a space blanket over the top of her, and she is snoring loud enough I can hear her over the pops of the fire.

I wanted her to have a chance to do this on her own with little or no help. She is strong-willed, so I have opted to move out here with her tonight to make sure she doesn’t push herself to stay if she starts freezing….

This has been a great journey. I’m not sure how we will end it—but it will be with ceremony. Thinking about a night ruck march with her and give her the basic tab at the end by a fire. Perhaps we’ll call it good and let her submit her outings thread for approval and take her to breakfast when its a go. Not sure yet— will sleep on it.

This is a kid who helps others learn to create fire with a ferro rod, give up a slot for a hunting camp so another kid can attend, and volunteer to work with others who don’t have friends to hang with. She finds quiet spots in the woods to pray….

She is a great kid and so happy to share this – and other passions in my life with her. She has camped with me since she was barely able to walk. We hunt, fish, ski, hike, and even play drums together. We build RC “expedition rigs” and drive to events to “play with our trucks”.

Looking at her wrapped up in a couple of wool blankets by a fire she created- under a tarp that will keep the frost off of her… I am very proud…. In a few days she will post and submit her final outings thread and sew on Basic…. I can’t wait….

Advanced Training Journal- Outing #6

Another addition from my journal enties– should point out that the dates are reflective of the journal posting and not the actual dates of the event–may be one or two days off…

Its just us. We don’t have family here. There is no going home for Christmas, we are home. All we have is each other. So the riyuals and obligations on holidays are absent for duty. So we often go to the woods. This is true of both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I needed to collect materials for my Advanced– I wanted to start locating and practicing natural cordage. I also wanted an opportunity to mess around with my new BCUSA tarp— the one you could park a small invasion force underneath. I also needed to help Melissa get caught up on her Basic tab, while I have Abeni continuing to do outings until I am confident she can hold her own out there alone. 

Both ladies did a wonderful job. Melissa (Sport1996) did knife sharpening and her twig fire requirements. I gave Abby (Abeni) just a few skills…putting up tarps and then just letting her wonder around the woods and explore.


It was great watching both of my girls grow in experience and confidence. Abby’s skills with the tarp have grown 10x of where they were just a few weeks ago. She is maturing into a good bushcrafter. Melissa is growing as well. She gets frustrated, but needs to learn its okay to make mistakes.

One point on Abeni….. she will probably do more than the required outings for Basic. I will include more night operations, fire building, and possibly game preparation for her before she submits her final outings for basic. I need her to be 100% confident in her skills. To see the work I am doing with her….check out her Basic Outings Page

was great to see Melissa get a twig fire going!!!!