Starting our adventure in the vast wilderness of our yard, our first task was to decide where to set up camp. We thought of this from two different angles: where we’d spend our first night, since we only had a couple of hours of daylight left, and where we’d want to make a more permanent camp.
Our yard provides many options for shelter, but ultimately it came down to two locations. One is a giant cedar tree in our back yard, the other is a really low-hanging oak branch in the front.
After picking our spot, it would be time for building.
For our “first night,” we picked the cedar tree. Bugs seem to avoid it and it’s next to a thick patch of bamboo that gave us wind protection and a place to hide from zombies.
The bamboo, the huge number of vines tangled up in it (something we’ve been wanting to clean up anyway), and a nearby wood pile meant that we we had all the building materials we needed right there.
We decided to use branches for the supports, tied together with vines, and use bamboo to cover it. I started leaning taller branches against the tree while Kent cut vines to hold it together. Pretty soon we had a fairly solid structure.
(It wasn’t quite as dark as that photo makes it look, but it was getting there.)
Next was the bamboo. Kent wanted to twist the branches of each piece together to make them more dense. I wanted to weave them together like a mat.
He gave in to my stubbornness, so he was cutting and bringing me pieces, and I was weaving them together over the support structure.
After doing this for a while, I realized he was right, there was way too much space in between each piece for good coverage. I had to take the whole thing apart again.
Lesson learned. We have very different ideas on ways to do things at times. His are mostly based on experience, mine are mostly based on creativity (my brain can figure out really bizarre solutions to problems) or things I’ve read.
Sometimes he’s going to be right and sometimes I’ll be right, but we should have tested both methods on a much smaller scale before picking one. The sun was going down and my mistake had wasted valuable time.
Yes, Kent, I just told the entire internet that you were right and I was wrong. I’m sure it will hardly be the last time. :-p
So Kent kept cutting bamboo and I braided.
We stopped when it started getting dark enough and cold enough that we needed to start seriously thinking about a fire. (Fire will be the subject of a different post.)
We had a lot more bamboo to work with, but we were working way too long to end up with such a small area of coverage.
For a quick shelter, we’d made it way too big. We only needed to be able to sit up, and especially given our situation of still needing to make fire and find food and more water, even having something we could just lie down under would have been sufficient.
(If we even needed shelter at all. The tree would provide enough protection from any possible rain. The branches are thick enough that we could have even slept in it. If this was a real situation, our focus should have been on food, water, and fire.)
But our goal that day was to learn about building shelters, so that’s what we did. If we’d actually been spending the night out there, we could have rearranged the bamboo to cover an area large enough to sleep under, so our attempt at shelter wasn’t a total failure. (And I tend to think that mistakes give you a much bigger bump in experience points than getting it right the first time. Unless your mistakes kill you.)
What I took away from it all is that for quick protection, you want simple. You want to figure out what you’re protecting yourself from (rain, cold, bugs, wild animals, zombies) and, if you need to build something rather than just finding a safe place to sleep, build something small, quick, and appropriate to the situation.
The point is to simply build a small shelter, not a fancy hut.
Stay tuned for the next post where we abandon our building of the small shelter and start building a fancy hut.