Here in the Pacific Northwest, we live in a rich and varied ecosystem. Our temperate rain forests are host to a wide variety of plants, many of which the Native people learned how to use for food, medicine, technology, craft, ceremony, and more.
The forests in our bio-region are dominated by Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, and Douglas Fir. These beautiful trees have many gifts to offer, and some are even edible. Subspecies of the Pine family (Pinaceae) have edible needles, which are very high in Vitamins C and A. I think it’s kind of funny that . . . → Read More: How to Make Pine Needle Tea
Book Review by Hannah
John Kallas’s Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate is one of my favorite wild edible field guides. I like to think of this book as a primer in foraging because it details how to find, harvest, process and eat over 23 different wild plants.
Edible Wild Plants is a comprehensive guide that addresses many of the wild edibles that we can find first and foremost in our backyards. Instead of planting conventional lettuce and other nutrient-poor plants, we can eat the “weeds” — the nutritious wild greens that already grow in our backyards, . . . → Read More: John Kallas’s “Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate” Book Review
Lorraine Olivas-Romey with Hericlum Abietis – Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Guest writer Lorraine Olivas-Romey is treasurer of the Snohomish County Mycological Society through which you can join her and other members on mushroom forays and their incredible October Mushroom Show.
Wild Edible Mushroom Hunting
Foraging for mushrooms has recently become quite popular. Is it due to a “back to nature” movement, consuming food that is naturally grown, or the thrill of finding something totally organic? Whatever it is, be cautious about eating a mushroom without total identification that it is an edible. In fact, “a mushroom chooses its victim”. One . . . → Read More: Top 5 Wild Edible Mushrooms for Wilderness Survival in the Northwest
Book Review by Patrick Wiley
When I received an unexpected email detailing the upcoming release of Nikki van Schyndel’s Becoming Wild, I was ecstatic. I had heard about the book seven years prior, but it had practically become an urban legend. Drawing upon my own experience and occasional lack of follow through, I had long ago concluded that the book was probably just a dream Nikki held that would never come to fruition. As is often the case, Nikki proved me wrong. Nearly a decade after the initial birthing of an idea, Nikki’s book has arrived. The . . . → Read More: Nikki van Schyndel “Becoming Wild” Book Review
Please click here to read critical introductory material in Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part I – Outdoor Risk Management including how to Engage the Frontal Cortex, recognize the difference between Perceived & Actual Risk, and mitigating the Eight Great Outdoor Hazards. These articles are designed to help the outdoor leaders cut the chaff, and start guiding students and clients with a solid foundation of knowledge.
If you would like intensive, hands-on training to become a highly effective outdoor leader, join us in mid June for our annual OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TRAINING EXPEDITION: Backpacking into Wolf Country course or stay all summer . . . → Read More: Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part II – Trip Preparation plus Wilderness Emergency Response Protocol
If you would like intensive, hands-on training to become a highly effective outdoor leader, join us in mid June for our annual OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TRAINING EXPEDITION: Backpacking into Wolf Country course or stay all summer and graduate from one of our six unique residential summer Environmental Education Apprenticeships on Outdoor Leadership & Nature Guiding, on Ethnobotany & Herbalism, on Wildlife Conservation & Tracking, on Traditional Technology & Survival, or on Homesteading & Sustainability.
Habit of Engaging the Frontal Cortex
Calling all 20 something outdoor leaders! Don’t be like me. Realize that the neural insulation that connects our frontal lobes is . . . → Read More: Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part I – Outdoor Risk Management
Those of us living in the Pacific Northwest (and many other regions around the world) are fortunate to be gifted every spring with an abundance of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). While it’s sting can be unpleasant, it teaches us to pay attention to our surroundings and I believe that’s a good thing. It also offers food, medicine and fiber if one knows how to properly harvest it. Here at the Wolf College, we adhere as closely as we can to the following Honorable Harvesting Guidelines for every plant we collect:
Do you need it? Harvest with a purpose or plan . . . → Read More: Stinging Nettle: Harvesting, Processing and Recipes
Young Man at Wolf Camp eating Chocolate Covered Mealworms
All of us have eaten insects, whether we knew it or not. As a kid, I even ate a worm on the playground to impress and gross out my friends. It’s not really a big deal. Unfortunately, adults who spent their whole lives growing up in western culture, now consider the notion of eating insects nothing short of repulsive. The truth of the matter is, insects have be an integral part of the food chain for millions of years, and as the United Nations just reported, we should start eating . . . → Read More: Tips for Eating Wild Edible Insects
Making traditional fire by friction, or “rubbing two sticks together” is real, and it’s more than a fun project: it’s also the most reliable way to start a fire once you learn how. How can an ancient way of starting fire be the most reliable if it is difficult? Well, it’s only difficult if you haven’t learned how. Once you learn, then it becomes the most reliable method because the coal you create is durable in cold, rainy, and windy conditions. Further, you can’t “run out” of fire lighting material if you know how to make traditional fire by friction. . . . → Read More: Bow Drill Fire Making Kits – Directions, Tips, Tricks, Pitfalls & Advice
Group of day campers doing the seaweed challenge on Lummi Island.
A day on the seashore is fun, but a if you know some basic information about seaweeds and shellfish, then a day is never enough. In fact, you could live on the beach and never see everything that’s going on. “Edge” areas are always the places where the greatest number of species cross paths, and there is no greater edge than the seashore.
Seashores have been the ultimate place for me to teach classes. After 25 years of researching and teaching nature, and living near the beach, I . . . → Read More: Eating From The Seashore: Seaweeds & Shellfish of the Salish Sea
It’s hard to think of anything that embodies the spirit of the great outdoors more than a good old-fashioned campfire under the stars. They provide us with warmth, light, and a great social atmosphere. There’s something deeply human about huddling around a raging fire with friends and family that brings us all closer together. Great food is one of the other few things in this world with the same power to rally us together and lift our spirits. Put them together and you have a guaranteed recipe for success. With a few basic tips, cooking over a . . . → Read More: How to Cook Over a Campfire
The yellow pollen on top of the seed head from which cattail gets its name. Kim Chisholm.
Please click here to read critical introductory material in Top Native Plants To Learn for Herbal Medicine, Part 1 of 2 including the non-flowering plants, and my article on the Tenets of Herbal Medicine. These articles are designed to help the beginner cut the chaff, and start studying plants that will give a solid foundation of knowledge.
But it’s not even the whole plant you need to learn: the properties inside the plant are what’s important. To understand that, . . . → Read More: Top Native Plants To Learn for Herbal Medicine: Part 2 of 2 – Flowering Plants
The following plants which are native to the Pacific Northwest either 1) are scientifically proven to effectively treat health issues, or 2) I have personally tested to work. However, many of them should only be used under the care and advice of a naturopathic physician. Please seek medical advice and never rely on internet advice to treat problems.
Plant Properties You Need To Learn from Botany in a Day
This article is designed to help the beginner cut out the chaff, and start studying the plants that will give a solid foundation of knowledge. But it’s not . . . → Read More: Top Native Plants To Learn for Herbal Medicine: Part 1 of 2
Since the founding of the Boy Scouts and to the era of modern of survival schools, the “debris hut” has enjoyed great popularity. Unfortunately, the debris hut is not a practical design for emergency shelter.
To build a debris hut, you need 1) plenty of time, which no one in a survival situation has, 2) a mind sharp enough to employ woodcraft knowledge, which almost no one in a survival situation has, 3) an able body, which most people in survival situations do not have because of injury, deydration, hypothermia, etc., and 4) abundant wood and debris, which . . . → Read More: Good-Bye Debris Hut, Hello to the Best Emergency Wilderness Survival Sheltering System: The Wolf College BIVOUAC BED & EAGLE’S NEST plus bivy bag recommendations
Recommended Orienteering Compasses
First, it is critical to get a “spinning dial” compass that is clear plastic, although it’s also nice to get one that allows you to “set declination” which is a fancy way of saying that it has prominent red lines/arrows that clearly shows your magnetic declination so that every time you use your compass, you don’t have to squint your eyes to find +16 degrees or whatever your local declination happens to be. Click on the NOAA website to find the declination for your area.
We also recommend getting a mirrored compass because it will help . . . → Read More: Video & Blog: How To Use A Compass; Using Map & Compass; Recommended Compasses
Wolf College founder and co-owner Chris Chisholm finds red-wing blackbirds in cattail pond, harvests cattail rhizomes, transplants the cattail into the Wolf College bioswale rain garden, and cooks cattails for carbohydrate loading. . . . → Read More: The Most Important Plant – Cattails! Video of Finding, Harvesting, Transplanting & Cooking Cattails
First Plants to Learn
No plant is more important than any other, just like no person’s life should be more important than anyone else’s. But all of us who publish books about plants make choices as to which plants to highlight, and which to leave out during the editing process. My choice of plants is a practical one, and I should have named this article the “Plants Which Have the Most Critical Ethnobotanical Uses in North America ” if it weren’t such a cumbersome statement.
Deciding which plants to study first is also critical for those of . . . → Read More: Top 10 Most Important Wild Edible Food Plants
The Opposite of Panic
The author demonstrating how to breathe in case of emergency. You can’t help but to suck air back in if you do this. Getting enough oxygen to your brain and extremities reduces panic and warms you up as well.
Experts say “don’t panic” in case of emergency, but we are biologically wired with a “freeze, fight or flee” response, so the only people who don’t automatically panic are trained emergency responders. So what are the rest of us to do?
When we panic, adrenaline floods our system, and our “lower thinking” brain stem is stimulated. . . . → Read More: Emergency & Wilderness Survival – Tips, Suggestions & Advice