17 December 2012

Basic Shelters

 So, lately I have been thinking about shelter. Let's start with basic tarp shelters. These can be as simple or complicated as you like. 

 At a not-too-long-ago training session with Cub Scouts, we did start to teach basic shelters to the kids. They had a real good time and learned a few things, too.

 The first shelter, on the right, was a 6'x8' tarp anchored to ground on three corners and raised up on the forth corner. This shelter is very good to keep you shelter low and out of the wind, as well as, keeping what little heat you have from having to warm a larger structure. Ideally, you would place a small campfire in front to get a little more warmth.

 This next shelter is a classic tarp lean-to with a front drip shield to keep rain from blowing in the front opening. 

With a small campfire with a reflector wall, this shelter will keep you alive in many rough weather conditions.

The front 1/4 to 1/3 of the tarp is folded over a ridge pole or ridge line to provide a rain deflecting slope. Make sure your fire is beyond the drip zone, so the rain water does not put out your campfire. 

The structure I really wanted to talk about is a woven willow frame shelter. This is a shelter made by tying together supple tree branches to form the frame for your shelter and then securing a tarp over the shelter to make it more water proof. 

For those wanting to setup a bugout location on Crown land - not that I am recommending or endorsing this behaviour - merely suggesting a shelter type that may work well in that situation. I shall continue with the woven willow shelter, some may call it a wicci up (not sure of the real spelling). 

Unlike, the same shelter for emergency purposes where you tye the branches together for a temporary shelter. For a BOL, I would suggest finding a select grove/stand of willow trees to permanently tye together. Determine how large you would like your shelter to be. Bring your tarp to make sure. This process may take 4 to 5 years to get the exact structure you want. You will need fencing or linesman's pliers, pruning shears, loppers, pruning saw and a roll of tye wire. If you want a lean-to style you will be leaving the front open - where your fireplace will be or you may want a traditional wicci up style - which is more domed shaped with a small igloo type door to enter your shelter. You decide. 

You will need at the very least a two trees on a North/South axis and two trees on the East/West axis. Actual compass direction not important. The more trees used the stronger and the better. First make your North/South frame, bend a tree from each direction, hold at the proper height. Have your helper cut a piece of wire and tye the trees together. Depending on the span and the thickness of the trees, you will need 5 to 7 tye points along the frame. 

Next tye the East/West axis frame. This gives you, basically two poles that connect the ground in four points. 

With the remaining trees in the stand/grove tye two more poles - if you have the trees to work with. Southeast to Northwest and Northeast to Southwest. 

Use any other tree in the stand to weave between your now four poles. This may take a season or two to achieve, as the supple, weave-able trees may take a season or two to grow long enough. As I said earlier, it may take 4 to 5 years to get the frame the way you like it. Use the tye wire to anchor the inter-weaved branches in place. 

Now it is decision time again. For the shelter to be truly ready all the trees in the grove/stand that are  in the way of using the shelter need to be removed, via pruning saw, shears or lopper. By removing the extra trees now, others may find and use your shelter. If you don't remove the branches now, when you come to occupy your shelter you may be without the proper tools to remove the undergrowth. You know your area better than me, do what you know is right.

One last point, visit your site as you need to. On each visit weave more and more branches or trees into your shelter frame. In time it will begin to look just like a natural thicket. In fact if you have enough time for this project you can secure your tarp on the inside and the outside will be naturally camouflaged.  If you are working with Alder instead of willow, in time you might not even need a tarp to be weather proof.

I hope this helps some of you out there.

Keep dry and warm,