Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reader Adventure: Just out of the military, dreams of bushcrafting in the Colorado Rockies

One of our readers, who wishes to be known as "John", recently got out of the military, and he had always dreamed of having a bushcraft adventure in the Colorado Rockies. Being from the Mid-West, John had never been to the Rocky Mountain wilderness before. After spending time serving his country, John decided it was now or never that he had to make this trip. Below is an email we received from him describing his first adventure.......

Dear Jason,

My bushcrafting trip to the Rocky Mountains in Fairplay, Colorado this summer was quite a learning experience. The area we hiked into (Twelve Mile Trail), was up around 10,500 to 11,00 feet in elevation. We were there during the weekdays, so we had a good bit of privacy.

Here are some of the things I learned from this trip:

-Just as you advised, there are bugs at the treeline - lots of them. I didn't bring a bug net, tent, or deet. Just longsleeves and a boony hat. I'm going to rethink my gear selection next time.

-The bushcraft bed I made (shown in the photo) was actually quite comfortable. There were lots of biting ants around our camp, so having the bed off the ground really helped us to stay clear of them.

-Purifying water was a full time job. I could never drink enough of it. We had two 1.5L cooking pots boiling water non-stop and it was never enough. I wished I could've just drank out of a stream like a deer. There has to be a better way.

-Squirrel Meat + Peanut Butter tastes like China Buffet's "Peanut Chicken!" (I think squirrel is their secret ingredient!)

-Gear- We brought along two pieces of gear that turned out to be especially useful. One of these was a Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe, and the other a book called "Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rocky Mountains." The Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe NEVER lost its edge, even after all the chopping we did.

The "Edible and Medicinal Plants" book was more valuable and relevant than any military training I've had, and was DEFINITELY worth it to take with me. It has a picture index, and it also describes the various plants' preparation methods and uses. The book said that Aspen is great for bowls/spoons, since it doesn't splinter. Willow is great for baskets. Douglas Fir sap can be used for chewing gum to clean teeth. Blue Spruce needle tea for vitamin C, etc. All great info.

Conclusion- Getting out there like this just makes me realize just how much there is to learn. It also really motivated me to get another trip planned. Next time, however, I think I'll go somewhere lower where there is more moisture :)

I want to thank you for taking the time to respond to my email, and for giving me some great advice that turned out to be very helpful.



Have a Rocky Mountain bushcrafting adventure story to share? A cool photo? Email us at rockymountainbushcraft @

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