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Just Met Two foraging PCT Thru Hikers

3:49 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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This week I went up to our local camp spot near town to meet some friends. In the campground were two brothers that had come from near San Diego last May, Trevor and Ian. They were dissheveled looking hippie type guys with traditional equipment. Their story became more interesting when I learned that they try to live without the use of money. They were foraging for most their food. They ate lots of trout, mushrooms and other native plants. They were small scrawny looking guys that had little hunting success with their crossbow hunting small game. We talked about hunting among other things and I suggested that a .22 pistol worn on the belt would increase their chances of harvesting rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels for food.

They had seen only 3 bears in five months and not that much wildlife until north of Sonora Pass. They had a deer liscense but it was only good in CA for a specific hunt area that they had already passed, and the season doesn't start until October.

They were not freeloaders, but definitely alternative lifestyle people. They were skilled musicians with a great sense of humor. I drove them down the mountaiin to a local cafe to buy some beer. Their next plan is to go to the Republic of the Congo to live with pygmies. Inspiring and interesting fellows.

6:20 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Is it legal to hunt for rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels while hiking the trail? Would think one would have to have a license for the squirrels and rabbits. Do they call them Marmots or Ground Hogs back east?

10:08 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Cost 5 dollars for wild pigs, and a lot of fish and game land near the PCT.  They have signs what you can harvest, like coyotes, black birds, ect...  Sunrise to Sunset.  Also Cleveland National Forest full of Turkeys.

5:39 p.m. on September 2, 2013 (EDT)
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they like to live without money? definitely not living well. we have a name for that - homeless.

2:26 p.m. on September 3, 2013 (EDT)
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A thread like this barely generates any comment. A thread about clothing generates 40 responses. I don't get it.

3:16 p.m. on September 3, 2013 (EDT)
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well.....

 

after trailjester opened a big can of worms that IMO has no real resolves (after all, who is he to judge how one lives their life?), maybe the thread died....

4:07 p.m. on September 3, 2013 (EDT)
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I know people who live this way, even though they were raised in cities and suburbs. I think it's kind of neat to see Traditional Culture come around again through an urban filter as an Alternative Lifestyle. Rabbits and fish and berries? Bark poultices and foraged tonics? Yup, ask my dad. Nothing new under the sun.

And just like my dad's generation, anybody living this way has to have a certain attitude. It's hard work. It's feast and famine. Patience, endurance, planning and a good sense of humour are prerequisites.

It's freedom, but it sure isn't easy. It's also not without risk. A young fellow here died after eating foraged monkshood by mistake. This lifestyle is for smart, careful, and well-informed people. They can't be afraid of work, or of working and getting nothing to show for it. And it's lifelong learning, for sure.

Those who are serious about it are the total opposite of the 'lazy hippie' stereotype. Don't judge them by their hair. :)

4:39 p.m. on September 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Don't judge them by their hair. :)

worst way of judging people.....as i havent had mine cut in 9 years......and dont plan on having it cut ever again....

ive had 4 haircuts in the last 20 years.....

never again....

6:05 p.m. on September 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Kevin, you and me both. I can cut the end off my own braid if I'm so inclined. $20 or more to have a pro do it? Nope.

And if anybody passes judgement on my DIY anti-do, well, I've just learned a lot more about them than they cared to learn about me. :)

6:51 p.m. on September 3, 2013 (EDT)
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The last 4 I've had done have been free via locks of love...

Find (not that I'll need it) a hair cutting place that supports locks of love and most will do it for free...

And yes---if someone passes judgement on my long hair---they can go fuck themselves...

I do have (I've known him for years) a picture of me and the current governor of Tennessee with my long hair flying....he was laughing up a storm as he hadn't really seen it that long (for work, I generally keep it tucked in ball cap)...

11:45 a.m. on September 4, 2013 (EDT)
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Ppine,

During my late teens and early 20’s I had various summer jobs which I hated but paid me good money none the less. I couldn’t wait until September when I would get laid off for the season. I would pack up my canoe with a few supplies and head off alone into the bush, travel until the ice was too thick to break with a paddle then build a cabin and stay the winter. I had no other plans than that and didn’t care much where I was just so long as I was alone. This was before GPS or Sat Phones allowed us instant communication with the outside world. Most of my food came from the land and waters around me. Just so long as I had a couple of good books to read beside the fire I was happy. Come spring time I would paddle out in time for my summer job. But, it wouldn’t take long before I started yearning again for the woods. Having lived like this for over ten years gave me a different perspective on my place in this world. It was quite an education.

Here is a photo of me back then.
20130306092530541_0002.jpg

The wool plaid jacket was made by Pioneer Brand of Jones Tent and Awning Vancouver. The toque and sweater I still have, in fact I am wearing the sweater now. Still in good shape after more than 30 years.

12:21 p.m. on September 4, 2013 (EDT)
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North,

Always good to hear from you. Great story. It does not surprise me at all that you have lived that way. Old ways are the best ways.

12:51 p.m. on September 4, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks, Ppine. There certainly is a fundamental difference between enjoying rabbit cooked over a campfire and rehydrating a freeze dried "dinner" with water boiled on a gas stove.

1:06 p.m. on September 4, 2013 (EDT)
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North,

You have described very succinctly the difference between people that spend a lot of time outdoors and those that think about being out there.

 

12:27 p.m. on September 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Gary's question:

Is it legal to hunt for rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels while hiking the trail? Would think one would have to have a license for the squirrels and rabbits. Do they call them Marmots or Ground Hogs back east?

The answer is that hunting regulations differ by land management agency, county, and state, and further by season and means.  It might be legal to hunt squirrel with a rifle in a National Forest, while just a few steps away in a county park, that kind of hunting might be forbidden.

I have real respect and appreciation for the few people skilled enough to subsist by foraging. I worry though, that these practices, adopted by the increasing numbers of people visiting the backcountry, will cause irreparable damage to the areas we want to go out and visit in the first place! For now, I'm comfortable with my couscous, and perhaps a foraged tea of spruce tips or wintergreen.

12:45 p.m. on September 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Seth,

The US has the most successful hunting laws in the history of mankind. Game species (huntable species) have increased greatly in the last 100 years. Game laws are in place to protect and enhance huntable species. There are very few backcountry hikers that hunt for food. The two above mostly relied on plants and fish.

There is a growing number of backpacking hunters in the western US, but they are mosty all big-game hunters.

1:01 p.m. on September 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Seth, there is a condition called "misplaced resourcism" or as I call it "not in my back yard". This is when people despoil other parts of the world while keeping their own neighbourhood pristine. Consider the detrimental affect of our consumerist society on the land in general. This applies to our use of petrochemicals in clothing, gas for our stoves, processing for our food, etc. not to mention the e-waste from our disposable computer parts which usually end up in landfills in third world countries where they poison people.

The overall affect of a handfull of people who happen to pick berries and do a little hunting is small in comparison.

2:29 a.m. on September 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Hunter/gatherers have done limited damage to the environment and natural resources in human history. They have low numbers, are nomadic and use simple technology.

Agriculture has changed the world's landscapes into something different. As an example, the Midwest has  great farmland that formerly was in hardwood forest. People worry about the Amazon, but one rarely hears about converting the breadbasket of the US back to forest.

Cities on the other hand have a long history of various kinds of pollution, disease, and pestilence.

11:30 a.m. on September 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi North - that's a great perspective! There is some (a lot of?) hypocrisy in my wearing a polyethylene-based fleece, eating GMO freeze-dried potatoes and worrying about people picking berries!

It seems like the fellows ppine mentioned were doing no harm. With my history in recreation management, I tend to focus on reducing and concentrating impacts to protect the resources I value - a perspective that you and ppine have rightly pointed out has some inherent contradictions.

5:37 p.m. on September 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Seth,

You show a high level of self-awareness. Where did you study rec management?

3:46 p.m. on September 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks ppine! Most of my limited recreation management knowledge was learned on the job with American Hiking Society.  I spent a lot of time reading and commenting on BLM REM/EIS docs, some work on NEPA compliance, and a lot of time working on legislation to create a new BLM- Managed system of public lands - the National Landscape Conservation System. Honestly, most of what I learned was on the trail maintenance trips. I had no experience prior, and just keeping up with some of the volunteers I was supposed to "lead" was a huge, and inspiring challenge. I just had a textbook understanding of erosion before I cleaned out 10 miles of waterbars! Turns out that is a lot harder than reading about it!

10:09 p.m. on September 15, 2013 (EDT)
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North1 said:

Seth, there is a condition called "misplaced resourcism" or as I call it "not in my back yard". This is when people despoil other parts of the world while keeping their own neighbourhood pristine. Consider the detrimental affect of our consumerist society on the land in general. This applies to our use of petrochemicals in clothing, gas for our stoves, processing for our food, etc. not to mention the e-waste from our disposable computer parts which usually end up in landfills in third world countries where they poison people.

The overall affect of a handfull of people who happen to pick berries and do a little hunting is small in comparison.

 North, this is very appropriate. I once shared a Thanksgiving(US) ironically, with a cousin of my then wife. The cousin and her mother had arrived in a very expensive Mercedes which had leather seats. Interestingly, both were adamantly opposed to the wearing of fur or leather goods. When I mentioned that my Gwitch'in and other Northern aboriginal friends still harvested from the land...caribou, muskrat, beaver, she responded that they shouldn't and should be wearing garments made from polar fleece. My response was that my friends were still living a sustainable life, much of it with many things(not all) gathered locally. I pointed out that the synthetic materials were made from petroleum, manufactured half way around the world, and in any case far outside the affordability of my friends. The woman and her mother were unchanged in their opinions, as if I had just advocated that the earth was the center of the solar system.

A few years ago, I had an article published on the connection between mining and our electronic technologies. I began by saying that inside every computer cell phone and other device we use, are metals that come from the earth. Copper, gold, silver, zinc, lead and others are coming from mines that all too often are run by companies with little environmental concern.

I won't go off topic further, except to say that on my recent trip, the amount of resource development with huge environmental impacts is depressing.

10:21 a.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Erich,

A thoughtful post as usual. As I have mentioned, I am a retired environmental consultant and I worked a lot for mining companies over a 30 year career. You hit a nerve with "coming from mines that all too often are by companies with little enviornmental concern." By law in the US they have to be concerned. Ninety percent or more  of the problems relating to mines in the US are from operations that are pre-law, say 1975. Where was your recent trip?

Maybe we can discuss this topic in a new thread. Discussing anything with you is always a priviledge.

8:06 p.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi ppine,

I sent a pm to you. I'm not sure that TS users would be up for a lengthy discussion on the ways many mining companies circumvent that 1975 law. It's not as bad as before the law was passed, but not surprisingly, corporate interests, both US and Canadian have ways that they can manipulate the system. On a somewhat related topic, a US court recently prosecuted the smelter at Trail, BC for years of toxic air sent down river to the residents of Northport.

12:07 p.m. on September 18, 2013 (EDT)
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Erich,

I have not received a PM. I have never worked on any Canadian mines only US ones but every western state except Montana.

April 17, 2014
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