Pathfinder Gathering 2015 Overview And Takeaways

The 2015 gathering has been written into history. Knowledge was shared, skills were passed down and all is well. The pathfinder community grows larger and stronger with each passing year. If you missed the annual pathfinder gathering fear not the 2016 gathering has already been confirmed.

Synopsis

If you aren’t familiar with the Pathfinder Gathering, it’s a series of survival and sustainability workshops put on by The Pathfinder School (Dave Canterbury and crew). One of the largest events of its kind, drawing more than 200 participants annually. Each workshop lasts 1-2 hours with a mixture of lecture and hands-on teachings. The entire event takes place over 6 days and 5 nights of primitive camping in southern Ohio.

Workshops Offered in 2015

  • 10Cs of Survival
  • 10th Century 10Cs
  • 5×5 Survival
  • Basic Compass and Navigation
  • Bow Drill Fire
  • Broom Crafting
  • Clay Pot Cooking
  • Coil Basket Weaving
  • Egg Tanning
  • Hammock Gear
  • Harvesting Meat from Game
  • Hide Glue
  • K9 Trapping
  • Knots
  • Meat Smoking
  • Natural Cordage
  • Net Making
  • Notching
  • Primitive Fish Traps
  • Primitive Trapping
  • Rope Ladders
  • Self Aid with the 10Cs
  • Tarp shelter configurations
  • Tool Sharpening
  • Viking Baking
  • Weaving
  • Wilderness First Aid
  • Wool Blanket Hats
  • Wool Blanket Shirts
  • * Pathfinder Skills Challenges *
  • * Youth specific learning sessions and skills challenges *

Takeaways

  • Practice primitive, carry contemporary – This wasn’t a new takeaway for me, in fact, it’s a mantra for Element Bushcraft & Survival that deserves repeated recognition. When technology fails you can fall back on you primitive skills to thrive.
  • Remember the “Five W’s” of shelter (Wood, Weather, Widowmakers, Wigglies & Water) – I failed to factor weather in and set my camp where a muddy pool formed in the rain.
  • Your tarp can sag on its own – I hung a few things off my tarp’s ridgeline which only helped it sag faster, causing me to reset it daily. Then moved everything to my hammock suspension lines and had no problems.
  • Where’s my EDC? – I realized that, because of the weather and the water-related activities, keeping my phone, flashlight, wallet, etc. in my pockets wasn’t going to be a good idea. Additionally, I didn’t have a dedicated location in my kit for it so I was constantly bungling around looking for it. I will be making a dedicated location for my EDC in my bush kit from now on.
  • Dry tinder, what dry tinder? – Keep your tinder dry. Keep your tinder dry. Keep your tinder dry! Bag it, seal it, whatever it takes. From arrival to departure, the weather kept the entire area wet. Natural material fires were challenging, though not impossible – dry tinder is always better.
  • Higher is dryer – Gather fire materials from as high up as possible, climbing may be necessary.
  • Fat Guys in the Woods – I heard “Fat Guys in the Woods” (on the Weather Channel) come up in conversation multiple times. I will have to familiarize myself with this show.
  • Never stop learning – Even if you’re an ‘old pro’ to a session topic, you can still benefit from the review. New ideas may be covered and/or you can be a helpful resource to others. After
  • Gear Fails – Always thoroughly test your equipment in advance, or carry a reliable backup. I had a few minor failures that could have been much worse if I didn’t have a backup in place. (Taped a lantern, swapped out 3 ridgeline setups, and ate cold dinner due to a temperamental stove)
  • Gear Fails Part 2 – Test your gear under stress if at all possible. It’s the quickest way to find failures with a system or piece of kit.
  • Skills Fail – Test your skills under stress too and learn from your mistakes early on. It may save your life.
  • I’d Hitch That – You can run a carabiner through a Marlinspike Hitch. This is really a no-brainer, but I didn’t put two and two together until someone mentioned it. This can be useful for hanging gear, especially if you don’t have a toggle handy.

In Closing

This was the third gathering that I’ve had the pleasure to attend. It was a great opportunity to refine some skills and learn a few new ones.

This is a unique opportunity to experience a wilderness skills training event like no other. The knowledgeable community that surrounds this event is always willing to offer their expertise. The atmosphere is low key and welcoming, offering plenty of time to make new friends. If you found this post intriguing, I would encourage you to make the trek to a future Pathfinder Gathering.

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