NOTE: This is a guest post by Chris Hampton, author of Edge Walker. Chris has graciously provided a free copy of his book in PDF. You can find the link to download your copy below. – TS
Go-Bags are a popular, and very important, topic of discussion among preppers and anyone wanting to be prepared for all contingencies at all times, anywhere. It’s interesting and exciting to scan over someone else’s Go-Bag content list, but ultimately it’s a personal choice, what we put in our bags. Yet, what happens if we lose our Go-Bag?
In my just-released book, Edge Walker, the main character is taught by a mysterious grandfather how to survive in the wilderness. At the beginning of the book, the boy has no experience in the wild, but as a desperate society rapidly deteriorates around him, the old man teaches the boy how to make shelter and fire, find water in the desert, and hunt meat without modern weapons.
Just before the boy flees a city thrown into chaos, his dying grandfather tosses him a small backpack. It’s his Go-Bag, put together by the old man before succumbing to a deadly virus. In the pack are essentials for his survival. However, when originally penciling out the plot, I looked at the very real possibility that, at some point, the boy will lose his pack. What then? Out in the wilderness, without all the essentials of a Go-Bag, life becomes precious and tenuous, very fast.
I wanted Edge Walker’s story line to be true-to-life regarding survival skills to be utilized in the wilderness. The outcome was interspersing chapters where Grandfather teaches the boy four fundamental wilderness survival skills: how to make simple shelters with the materials at hand, carve a bow drill and make fire, find sources of water in the desert, and hunt using the most basic of primitive weapons – the throwing stick. In the chapter where I introduced the bow drill and fire making, my aim was to write in such a way that the emotion of the story line was maintained while sequentially describing the method for making a fire kit:
“Once, after relocating west, the old man taught the boy about fire. They walked into the desert . . . Grandfather stopped at a three-foot-tall bushy plant and looked down at it. Kneeling, he broke off a dead portion, unsheathed his knife, and started carving.
The boy watched. The sun baked.
“This plant will make fire for you. Warm you. Heal you.”
Grandfather’s knife worked the soft wood. A flat piece, two inches wide and ten inches long with a squared edge, emerged. Another piece of a branch, six inches long, became pointed at both ends: a spindle.
He cut a third piece of wood to fit the palm of his hand. Putting these pieces down, Grandfather cut a longer branch, about two feet, and tied some paracord to it. The boy thought it looked like a small bow to shoot arrows.
Using the spindle, handhold, and bow, the old man quickly burned a small indent into the flat piece of wood. Then he carved a slice-of-pie cut, the wide part of the slice at the edge of the board, the apex touching the middle of the burned indent.
Next, he again twisted the six-inch spindle stick into the string of the bow with one end of the spindle fitted into the notched hole. The palm-sized handhold he put on top of the other end of the now-vertical spindle and pressed down.
Grandfather began scraping the bow back and forth, like playing a cello. The flat board smoked, the smoke curling up around the spindle. Fine dust filled the slice-of-pie notch, with smoke billowing out from where the spindle met the board. Suddenly, he stopped and tapped a glowing ball of dust onto a baseball-size bunch of fluffy tinder and deftly handed the fire kit to the boy.
Grandfather did not rush. He gently, quietly talked to the glowing coal.
“Always ask the coal to visit. And thank it when it does,” he said.
The boy watched. Said nothing.
Grandfather, with two hands, held the smoking ball up above his face and blew into it. Soon, smoke turned to flame. He gently put the flaming ball on the ground and, from what the boy saw in the old man’s eyes, lovingly stared at it.
The boy looked up at Grandfather, then back at the little ball of flame, and echoed Grandfather’s word: “Life.”
As he is taught primitive skills, the boy is reminded to keep his knife on his body and not in his Go-Bag. In this way, if the Go-Bag is lost, the boy still has what he needs to live safely and even lavishly in the wilderness – – a knife.
Later in the book, the ancient skills are enhanced with modern paraphernalia to illustrate the benefits of utilizing whatever’s available. After the boy is rescued from man-hunters by two strangers, he observes how his rescuers effectively combine primitive knowledge with modern effects to subsist and move across the landscape. One example is how the strangers serve food in a gourd, but cook in a metal pot:
“A small fire dances in the cave. Dinner is stewed rabbit with wild onions foraged when Jure did the perimeter check. Bae, once again, marvels at the ingenuity of these two. The meal simmers in a metal pot with walls that collapse each inside the other to compress down for easier packing. To use it, the sections of walls are pulled up to form the pot. Handy.”
And later, in Chapter 50, worn out Converse sneakers are replaced with Huarache sandals:
“Your footwear needs mending,” G says.
“Yes,” Bae answers. “My left sole came apart.”
The shredded shoes embarrass the boy. He glances down at his clothes and does a quick check, as he’s learned to do before traveling . . .
“Any ideas for your footwear?” G asks.
“There’s the town,” Ever says. “They might have a dump or store we can raid.”
“No way on the store. Too dangerous. Supplies to these outlying towns have stopped. Whatever they have in town will be closely guarded.” G pauses. “But a dump. Good chance old tires will be in a dump. We can make sandals for Bae.”
“What about straps?” Ever asks. “Strapping leather is hard to find.”
“Of course!” Ever blurts. “I forgot about that.”
“I’ve got paracord,” Bae offers. He can’t picture sandals made out of tires or how to make them. But he knows paracord and has a roll in his pack.”
If you have a foundation of proven, ancient, skills and a willingness to combine them with whatever modern paraphernalia is found on the landscape, chances increase dramatically for survival. But the most basic necessity for a successful experience in survival is, like the characters in Edge Walker, to always keep a knife somewhere on your body, in case everything is lost, especially your Go-Bag.
To download a FREE COPY of Edge Walker in PDF – CLICK HERE!
– Chris Hampton