Wilderness Survival and Bushwacking

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A young team of intrepid adventurers joined Dr. Jim Merritt on a hike through the woods of Stokes Forest.  Along the way, they paused to review their surroundings and determine what if anything was available in the forest for them to survive if need be.

The young group talked about mushrooms and ferns, and Hemlock as a source of food.  A lively debate of the deliciousness or not of salamanders and newts was also had.  In the end it was decided – not!

Participants were asked to use their senses to find and determine whether a small dark think leafed plant that smelled minty fresh was edible.  You guessed it.  It was wintergreen and it is edible.  The group also sampled some hemlock needles with mixed reviews.  

The highlight of the day was the fire building/warm boiling contest.  Dr. Jim demonstrated the activity by building a small fire, then broke the group into teams.  After each group built the framework for a fire, they lit it with the one “survival” match that was given to each group.  One by one we gathered around each built fire to see if the design ignited and was able to sustain flame and heat to boil water.

All the groups eventually brought their water to a boil and enjoyed a taste of Hemlock tea. After carefully putting out all the small fires, the bushwackers returned to NJSOC to have a bit to eat (not hemlock or salamanders) and departed satisfied knowing that if necessary and with a bit of observation and ingenuity, they could survive in the woods.  

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