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Preparedness view of ultralight?
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Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: bushskills v.s. UL technique on 11/12/2007 18:42:47 MST Print View

I never said that "all' backpackers stay on trail and dont understand there enviroment- I said they are two different ways that people use the wilderness (um.. Im a backpacker).
You can practice backpacking without a whole lot of understanding of the enviroment- you can't practice bushcraft without a real good one though, and that was part of my point why the 2 approaches can collide -through misunderstaning.
"I would add that there are some of us backpackers(UL, SUL, and otherwise) who do, in fact, spend quite a bit of time off trail, but who either don't want to kill for food and/or rip up the landscape to build shelter and fire, or backpack where it is prohibited in part or totally."
-This statment is just chock full of controversal and slightly accusatory statements. I think any responsible practitioner of bushcrafts would take serious issue with "kill for food" which you already do..unless your vegan.
A good debate can be had between those who 'rip up" the landscape and backpackers who carry products produced by drilling, minning, manufacturing, distributing and so on- whos really leaving an impact?
And obviously you should follow any rules if you are on public or private land.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 11/12/2007 18:55:00 MST.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Re: Re: bushskills v.s. UL technique on 11/12/2007 19:02:33 MST Print View

I for one am most interested in bushskills. I use backpacking as a means for me to get out into the environment and practice my skills. I consider it a transition activity. Of course, I also plan to backpack throughout my life, but I'm most interested in learning about plant identification, tracking, primitive shelter, etc.. Right now I don't practice much primitive shelter building because I don't walk in secluded enough places to have such an impact on the environment. If I was ever to get into DEEP woods than shelter and fire building wouldn't be as much of an issue with me. I also don't kill for food because I am too empathetic with animals and I don't consider them to be lower than me. I do however practice building traps and then taking them down. This is one thing that is very easy to practice anywhere because it's never hard to find some sticks for figure 4 traps. Snares and other more complex mechanisms are more difficult to make without finding young, snappy trees which would have to be killed.

I also spend time practicing tracking when I backpack as this is one thing that I feel brings you very close to nature. I have yet to find an animal at the end of the tracks though!

Anyways, I think that bushcraft and backpacking go hand in hand in a way. Both are about being connected to the natural world that exists outside of civilization. I personally feel that those practicing bushcraft are actively seeking a more intricate and complex connection with the world around them, but I have no doubt that most experienced backpackers have a very intimate connection with their world as well. They may not seek out this experience as actively as someone practicing bushcraft, but just by being out there they learn tons. They can read the weather, understand how the land works as far as water sources and general layout, and are familiar with many plants and animal species among other skills. I don't think you can spend time out in the woods without getting more in tune with the world around you. Well, I suppose you could if you wanted to walk and talk and listen to music and camp with a boombox, but I feel that solitude + nature = Increased sense of harmony. That's what it is all about with me. My dream of being a great primitive survivor is feeling that ultimate sense of harmony with the world. I don't quite get that with backpacking..

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Re: bushskills v.s. UL technique on 11/12/2007 19:21:45 MST Print View

Andrew, I think I know how you feel.
I cant draw a line and say " this is backpacking and this is not" they both go together, just more tools I use to relate to the natural world.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Bushcraft vs UL backpacking on 11/12/2007 20:29:11 MST Print View


You pretty much hit upon what I alluded to in my earlier post. There is a difference in philosophies between the "extremes" of the two groups mentioned, so there can be considerable overlap at times.

A great deal really depends on what you are looking for in the backcountry. There was a time when I was a youngster when I would step into the backcountry (which was really dense woods in farm country) and lose my self for a day. I might only walk 2 or 3 miles, but I would really see what was going on around me. I also hunted squirrels, rabbits, and so forth if the season were in, but this was a secondary goal with a much looser pursuit of being out away from the "electric world" as I've often called it.

In the Marine Corps, I learned a different sensation. We rarely moved fast in the bush. We were patrolling and moving slowly and carefully as we hunted bigger two-legged prey (which could shoot back). But my awareness peaked, especially as I learned to watch, listen, smell and feel the world around me as I navigated through underbrush in the black of night.

Then as I began to adventure race and run triathlons, my perspective changed. I lost touch with a lot of the natural world as I barrelled through it in a glorious state of adrenaline high. My AT thru-hike in 99 was a slower pace, but it set the stage for my sheer love of WALKING, walking moreso than being in tune with nature. I tended to turn inward as I ground out LOTS of miles. It was a profound experience as I looked inside and learned more and more about myself. But my connection with the natural world definitely subsided.

I regained a bit of my focus on the wilderness around me when I taught for NOLS. Heavy packs and shorter days, combined with TEACHING natural history, meant I learned to enjoy nature again.

But I've fought a battle of balance. The longer my mileage the less I really appreciate all I walk through. Only when I consciously take the time to deliberately observe nature do I really appreciate it.

I can empathize with those who cover massive mileage. It used to be the biggest high I got from backpacking. But in the last couple of years of shorter mileage trips with my girlfriend, I've learned to love the land again. I've also learned more plants that I never knew before because I have time in camp to do so. As for hunting, I prefer the innate honestly of accepting my role as a predator.

And the cycle goes on.....

Edited by Bearpaw on 11/12/2007 21:10:37 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: bushskills v.s. UL technique on 11/13/2007 17:57:14 MST Print View

You're right, you didn't say "all"; you said "usually" which was close enough to "all" to motivate me to respond. As for being controversial, probably; I have no problem with being controversial. Accusatory? Wasn't meant that way, it's just the way I happen to see the issue. Sorry you took it that way. Even vegan kill for food, BTW. Plants are just as alive as animals, so it's not killing, per se, that bothers me. My issue is killing when it's unnecessary. Nobody who backpacks HAS to kill for food. There's enough of that going around these days as it is, and it's my personal feeling that it would be nice to leave in peace the few remaining areas which are relatively unspoiled. Disclaimer: These statements are just my opinions and are not meant to be perceived as insights into higher truth or morality, so please don't get riled over them. As for a debate over who does the most environmental damage, it's a non starter IMO. Both camps are tarred to one degree or another with that brush, unless the practitioner of bushcraft happens to be wearing the skins of animals he killed when he was buck naked, with a spear stick, deadfall, etc and gutted/skinned with a piece of knapped flint or obsidian, and so on. By way of putting my position in context, as a kid I shot more than my fair share of birds just for the sheer heck of it, hunted for food as a young man, and fished, for food, up until about 1998, so my hands are definitely not clean when it comes to killing. But my thinking on the whole subject has evolved, partially for internal reasons and partly as a reaction to what I see going on in the world around me. Hence the opinions I express in this forum. One man's opinions, nothing more. So, take 'em with a grain of salt and express your own freely in return. It's what makes this such a great forum to participate in.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Re: bushskills v.s. UL technique on 11/13/2007 22:20:08 MST Print View

Hey Tom,
Im not at all riled up, but I do stand by my 'usually" comment because all I was doing was describing how backpackers usually use the wilderness which is different than living off the land and practicing primitive skills, not that they cant survive, I was just explaining why some people would bring different tools with them -like a fixed blade knife and why a backpacker "usually" would not carry somthing like that- But might carry a razorblade instead. As for bushskills, Im not saying that people should be building shelters and fires or hunting on the side of AT or JMT.
Most people who take bushcraft seriouly live way up north where there is still large amounts of wilderness, some of those people are Native Americans.
Another thing to consider is that attitudes about the land can be very different between an urbanite and the country folk. Urbanites have strong feelings about LNT and leaving the wildernss "unspoiled". Country folk, though not agaisnt the park system, dont live in the city and just visit the wilderness- they live there. And these skills are a way for them to reconnect with that land and live there with "minimal" impact.
But Im talking about a small group of people here, when I talk about bushcraft in the way I and most people use it Im just talking about learnning about the land and its uses. Basic stuff like being competent at fire building in crappy wet conditions. Building an effective shelter -in an emergency or if your camping WAY out there, basket weaving, knifecraft, weather reading ect..
Hunting to me is sure, part of bushcraft but I kinda see hunting as a seprate but related skill.
I agree that we are all guilty of adding to the pollution,
Im not claiming I or any one else has the answers but bushskills is one way some poeple are trying go back-to-basics and live a greener cleaner life.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 11/14/2007 09:04:13 MST.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/14/2007 12:02:53 MST Print View

"backpackers tend to be more suburban while most hunters come from a more rural setting. Add this to the fact that hunters tend to spend more time off-trail and closely observing the natural world around them, and you'll find that they have a valid perspective on the natural world."

This has been my experience as well. Hunters are often very in tune with the natural world, have fairly solid survival skills and are pretty responsible backcountry users. We need to keep our minds open to a variety of users.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: bushskills v.s. UL technique on 11/14/2007 18:04:20 MST Print View

Yo Brian,
I'm sure glad you posted again. As a result of our give and take, I feel I have a more nuanced feel for what you are trying to get across. I have no problem at all with those who practice what we call bushcraft as a way of life, especially the First Peoples, but including anyone, just about anywhere else as well. Ditto most hunters and fishermen. There is room enough for all, so far. That is why I tend to stick to national parks and, to a lesser degree, wilderness areas. As I mentioned in my last post I grew up in a hunting/fishing environment and only recently totally left it behind. What you have said applies to most hunters and fishermen I have encountered down through the years. Where I do have a problem is with the trophy crowd in general and a segment of the bushcraft folk who run around generally making a mess and shooting up the joint. I guess initially I wasn't sure where you were coming from and maybe I jumped the gun a little, for which I apologize. This is a classic example of why I really enjoy these forums!