Sunday, 19 June 2011

18th Century Historical Trekking.

18th Century Historical Trekking.

The reason some of us participate in Historical Trekking is so that we can experience, to the best of our ability, what life was like back in the 18th century for those people who spent much of their time travelling in the wilderness. These people could have been scouts, Rangers, militia, couriers, professional hunters, woodland Indians or farmers hunting for meat. There were also women such as Mad Ann Bailey, & Mrs Pentry. No matter what their occupation, all these people were woodsmen, or in the case of the ladies, woods women (another reason is that it is good training for long term wilderness living/survival in case it all hits the fan one day!).

Brothers of Intent-John Buxton.

Authenticity must play a large part in what we do, otherwise we will not be truly experiencing what it would have been like to its fullest extent, but within this authenticity there is personal freedom of choice. If there is no documentation to prove that more than one blanket was carried by your persona, then you are restricted to only carrying one blanket. If this one blanket is not enough to keep you warm, then perhaps there is yet still more for you to learn. Research may teach you how to keep warm with only one blanket, but so can a little common sense coupled with experimental archaeology.

The same method applies to all your tools & equipment. Items such as the hunting knife, tomahawk & gun are well documented, but other items have gone unrecorded in history, so you will again have to think about your personal needs & fill in the gaps in your equipment list. You must think about how long historically you would have been away from the settlements, & then think what you might need when so far from home. You may only be going a short way for a couple of days, but if your persona would have been gone for a month, then that is what you must prepare for. Might you need to repair your gun lock whilst you are away? If so then you could carry spare parts & a mainspring vice. On the other hand you may decide to just risk it & save weight. Remember, when packing for the trail, there must be some compromise between two principles: minimum weight & maximum self-reliance.

Woodsman-John Buxton.

Only experience can teach you what you need to know beyond the research. Do you need one knife or two or even three? Do you need to carry a kettle? There is no research data to suggest that Daniel Boone ever carried a kettle, but is there information on other items that may lead you to believe that he did in fact carry one? Why else would he want sugar for instance? Even so, the choice is still yours. I carry a kettle for two reasons, one I need to boil water to kill any bacteria, & two I like to have a hot drink on a cold winter’s day.

So there it is, choose your persona, the sort of person you want to be. You can even choose another name for yourself if you wish. Make sure you choose a specific period to make it easier to research. Don’t assume that all your gear must be authentic to your chosen period. Early equipment & clothing are suitable for later periods. If you have chosen the French & Indian War period, remember that you have not just been born a grown person with all new equipment! Think about your age & calculate when you were born. If you are 40 years of age now, then you may have equipment from when you were 20 years of age. Have you any pieces of equipment your grandfather gave you? If so, what date was it made?

The more skills you have the less equipment you will need to rely on. You don’t have to wait until you have all your gear together, as soon as you have enough for an overnight stay in the bush, get out there & gain some experience. Let more than one person know where you are going & when you intend to return. Take a friend with you if you can, even if they are using modern equipment. Practice some skills before you go, & practice them again in camp. Good luck.


Karl said...

Nice write up Keith.

I find the Experimental archaeology side of it quite valuable to my modern wilderness skills too.



Le Loup said...

Thanks Karl.