Here’s the story of the Walkabout I led in March.
I didn’t edit this I made a few spelling fixes. I just wrote it once in an email to a friend, and here it is:
Ah yes, here’s the story!!!! – also going to post this on my blog
So the Walkabout was a success, though didn’t go according to plan. Which is, perhaps, more like a survival. It started raining on us as soon as we got out of the truck. There was a total of 5 people including me. We crossed a bridge called “Sheep’s Bridge” and started hiding up a creek called “Sycamore”. It was very busy, and so we were bending and dancing around all these cactus and trees and bushes and tall grasses. Plus, the rain was beginning to make all the plants wet, so we were getting more wet from walking through plants than the drizzle. Little dog Molly came with us, and the poor thing doesn’t have fur (just hair) so once she got wet, she also got cold. She was shivering, but still hiking like a champ.
We finally found a spot that opened up a little, to a meadow surrounded by trees, and tall green grass (which would eventually turn brown as the season changes, and be pokey, but luckily for now it was soft green grass about 2 feet high). The sun had also just began to set, so our daylight was really limited. By the time we gathered firewood and figured out where to camp, it was dark. I used an emergency fire set – just a spindle, fireboard and tinder. I made a bow out of a wet branch, and made a socket out of a wet stick. I originally wanted to have everyone try to make fire, but since there was no moon, and it was pitch black, and still raining, I decided to just make the fire myself since nobody could see what I was doing anyways. However, I did instruct people to look for dry twigs under large logs, and large trees – so some people went out looking for those. They did an excellent job, and came back with just the right amount of dry twigs and leaves.
As I placed the fire set together, it took a few starts. I had to cut the chimney in the dark – really happy that I’ve done this before! Instead of getting to look at it, I had to feel it with my hands to know if I had cut it correctly. With a little prayer in my heart, I started again, and moved that bow back and forth until my stomach muscles cramped. It took a good 30+ seconds. I sat up in pain, rubbing my stomach, and while I was doing that, a subtle red glow came from my coal catcher – I made fire!!!! In the rain, and in the dark!!! Thank you prayers! Well, that was just the first step. Now we had to put it into the tinder bundle, and blow that into flames, all while rain drops were falling. By this time everyone had gathered around and were keeping me dry with their bodies blocking the rain. I asked for the small dry twigs – which random hands in the darkness handed to me. We all carefully took turns adding twigs to the fire – for each twig was still slightly damp, so we had to go slowly.
I don’t know how much time went by, but it didn’t feel long. We were all so focused on this fire, that time didn’t matter. It was a marvelous group effort to keeping this small flame alive! We added tiny toothpick-sized twigs at first, then moved up to pencil sized ones, and finally finger, wrist and leg sized ones. It must have been 30 minutes, but we finally had a roaring fire, and everybody was holding their hands up to it to get warm.
During this time, Molly (our cute tiny white dog) was freezing, and her instincts must have told her to dig a hole and huddle in it – which she did until the fire was ready. She didn’t want to come next to the fire, until we brought her to it – and she felt the warmth. Then she loved it and stayed close by.
Next, using the light of the fire, we walked around and harvested some of that tall green grass that surrounded us, to use as bedding. Luckily it was green – which made it softer, and fire-resistant, so I felt safe using it as a bed within a few feet of the fire.
That night we didn’t sleep much, but we were happy, and the rain stopped for little while, but then came back through the night. With out a planned schedule, some of us woke up randomly to keep the fire going through the night.
The next day, we went on a short “nature hike” and I showed everybody Papago Lilies and wild mustard leaves. We went hunting for crawdads in the stream – which we only found a carcass of one – but found no living ones. We also ate Globe Mallow flowers. Everybody seemed to like those. They have a nice subtle sweet flavor.
So far things were going well. The rain stopped, the sun was drying up the grass, and our clothes as well. Molly, however, was not doing so well. She began throwing up, and having diarrhea. She was also sleeping all the time, and shivering even though the sun was out. We were getting worried, and wondering if she should stay another day with us.
I though she just needed to warm up more, but the day was now warm, and she wasn’t looking any better. We made a decision that one of us would go back to the vehicle with Molly and that way they would be warm in the truck. But while escorting them back, I realized we needed to get Molly HOME, not just to the truck. So I went back and told everyone else that we were going home. It was a little hard to leave early, because we were just getting into things – and they had built really nice grass beds in preparation for the 2nd night out there. But Molly’s life was far more important to us, than one more night. So we all hiked back to the truck together, back through the thicket of bushes and trees and rocky creek bottoms, over Sheep’s Bridge and finally to our truck, loyally waiting for us.
As we drove away, lightening lit up the sky, and some rain began to come again. We were all a little glad not to be out there for another night of rain.
Back in town we decided to go to a Steak house and feast. Apparently a diet of Papago Lilies and Globe Mallow just doesn’t satisfy like a rack of ribs does. So we ate and enjoyed.
One day was enough to realize a lot of important things. And the main goal of this trip was to expand our minds and our spirits whilst being among nature.
P.S. Molly (who is now better) was taken to an emergency vet the next day, and was diagnosed with a parasite they think she got from a dog park she visited earlier that week. I guess her symptoms were just a coincidence. After a diet of chicken and rice for a few days, she made a full recovery and is back to her old self again!
Here she is watching the sunset with us @ Fools Hallow last week:
edited: some spelling and grammar