Alec Manning’s Survival Guide to Junior Fourpoint
Happy Friday Everyone!
To start, I apologize for the length of time since my last post. It has been a busy, busy few weeks here at the Academy.
Well it’s almost that time of year again. It’s almost time for each class to depart on their fourpoint adventures. The juniors are starting to get a little anxious about heading into the woods. But have no fear, I have your survival guide!
1. Avoid sweating at all costs.
Out in the wilderness when it’s very cold out, you can still sweat. But, this can be problematic. It’s essential to keep yourself as dry as possible. Don’t fear, if you get a little sweaty, you won’t die.
2. Enjoy the little things
It’s easy to find yourself struggling to keep your morale up. So, make the most out of the smallest things.
3. Push your limits.
It’s very easy to skate through Junior Fourpoint. If you want, you can carry the least amount of weight and let everyone else do the work. But, if you don’t, you will be rewarded beyond belief. There is nothing like working your tail off to summit a mountain, especially when you think you fell in every single spruce trap (holes in the snow where the trees are…they are sometimes chest-deep).
4. Have fun.
Again, it’s easy to let your morale slip, but take advantage of opportunities to have fun. For example, when it’s snowing and windy, take a picture on the top of the mountain. Perhaps without a shirt on…
5. Learn how to clean your bowl.
Unless you want the chili you had for dinner the night before mixed in with your oatmeal the next morning, learn how to clean your bowl without water. My suggestion would be to use snow and a spoon.
6. “Get your systems down.”
A phrase coined here at the academy by Mr. Hayward, is essential out in the woods. If you are constantly struggling to keep yourself organized, than you will find yourself frustrated. So, “get your systems down” a.k.a. get organized.
7. Stuff sacks can are very helpful.
Believe it or not, the human body is full of stuff sacks. Organs themselves are surrounded by a sack that keeps everything together. For example, the lungs are in the pleural sacs. This is a valuable lesson to learn; if you pack you pack like a human body and use stuff sacks, then you will be much happier. When you’re looking for a fresh pair of socks inside an 80 liter pack, and it’s dumping snow, you don’t want to take very long. Stuff sacks are the way to go. If you have several stuff sacks then you can know where your socks are in a matter of seconds.
8. Know your knots.
Knot tying is essential in several categories but primarily for making a shelter. Come time for solo, you will want to know your knots.
9. Don’t take it too seriously.
There needs to be a balance that is struck when out on Fourpoint. It is very easy to take it too seriously and not enjoy any of it. Also take into account that there are times when being 100% serious is absolutely necessary.
10. When you get cold, do some cardio.
Sitting around the campfire after eating a monstrous proportion of Mac’n’Cheese with bacon, you can get “food chill,” which is where the blood moves towards your digestive system instead of keeping the rest of you warm. What do you do? You go get firewood! Go for a walk! Anything that will get your blood moving again. Also, if you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re cold, the fastest way to warm warm up is to do some core exercises. My personal favorite is leg lifts.
11. Be helpful around the camp .
After the end of a long day of hiking, you will find yourself not wanting to be particularly helpful. But, if everyone pitches in and gets the fire wood, builds shelters, digs out a fire pit/place to sit, then you will all be able to relax much sooner than if people are sitting around.
12: Follow the map, but pay attention to your surroundings.
For this tip, I want to share a little story. Last year I was hiking along with my group, and we took a bearing and followed it for a while. We walked for what felt like 6 hours, then suddenly we appeared in someone’s back yard. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We weren’t supposed to be within 6 miles of a house until a few days later. So, we followed the road for a while and it all grew very familiar. Turns out we had been walking on the Sunday River road, (no not the road that we drive on to go skiing everyday) the road to a local swimming hole. As we were walking along this road, the sun had set, and it had gotten dark enough that we couldn’t see without headlamps. And we still didn’t have shelters built.
My advice is, don’t only use the map and compass, use your surroundings.
Those are my top 12 tips for all of those juniors heading out into the woods on Sunday.
One last thing to say: I enjoyed my Fourpoint so much that on Tuesday, March 4th, four other classmates and I will be journeying out into the wilderness for a three day excursion of our own.
Until Next Week,