Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hydrate or Die !!

A very bold term.  A very stark reality.  Whether in the Summer or the Winter.  Whether while hiking or biking.  Our bodies require fluids to maintain the major functions of our body and to keep those major organs alive.

Our bodies are 2/3 water and require replacement fluids by way of intake due to the loss of hydration through perspiration and urination.

In a survival emergency you have many tasks to complete in order to be successful in self rescue or assisted rescue.  Those tasks are gruelling and exhausting.  Shelter building, firewood collection, signal fire construction, hunting and foraging.  All of these tasks are empty your body of its most precious resource - water.

If you find yourself in an area void of a stream, river or lake and without a container capable of boiling water even if you had a collectible source you will become dehydrated and desperate.

You must find a consumable and safe fluid.  You have a knife and the clothes on your back.  You have attempted to melt snow in a make shift solar still with negative results.  What now?

Lucky for you, you've become lost during a hike on the March break in the Canadian Wilderness.  Surrounding you is none other than the mighty Maple.  When you look at it you instantly think of Maple Syrup.

As nice as that thought is, that tree produces sap and not Maple Syrup.  The syrup is a product of many hours of boiling and temperature sensitive preparation.  If you've ever sat inside a sugar shack you will have undoubtedly experienced the steam of the evaporators.  That process of evaporation is the way the sap syrup is separated from the water.  The water is boiled off leaving just the syrup.

Depending who you talk to, the ratio of syrup to water is 1:50.  That means that 1 cup of syrup had 50 cups of water boiled off of it.

The reason I paint that picture is that you should now be realizing that the sap from the Maple tree is 98% water.  Precious water that can hydrate your body and organs and keep you alive.

Take that knife and work at carving a hole approx. 2-3 inches deep into the tree on the southerly facing side.  Find an evergreen branch and whittle it with your knife so that it's 3-4 inches long and index finger diameter.  Shape the branch like a water slide with a groove the whole length. 

Hole in a Maple tree ready for the tap.

Primitive Taps

Hollowed Tap

With your knife tap the branch into the carved hole in a slightly upward angle.

So, you've tapped the tree and placed your wooden tap into the tree.  You watch eagerly and soon observe the clear liquid collecting on your wooden tap.  What now?  How do I collect it?

Initially you'll probably just catch the sap on your tongue.  However, you'll want to return to your other tasks taking you away from the sap source.  If you do not have the knowledge or materials to make a primitive container the next best thing is your wool hat.

When your clothes get wet what do you do?  You take them off and ring them out of course.

So the concept is the same.  Place your wool hat under the tap and dripping sap.  When you return from your tasks it is very probable that your wool toque will be saturated with sap.  Simply hold the toque above your mouth and ring it out into your mouth.

Remember that in a true survival situation anything you can hunt, forage or collect that is edible and drinkable will increase your odds of surviving.  If you have nourishment your energy and morale will be much improved and therefor you will complete more tasks and live more comfortably until rescue.

If you allow yourself to become dehydrated your body will shut down.  That is an emergency whether you're on a canoe trip in August or lost in the bush in December.

Don't rely on the rivers and lakes for water.  You may never find them in the bush. 

Knowledge. Skills. Mindset.

Hydrate or Die !

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