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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hiking Iowa

“Let’s go hiking in Iowa.” “Really where?” That’s the reaction most people have to the suggestion they might enjoy walking around our presumably flat state. Their impression of Iowa is one founded on underestimation of its landscape. Taught to judge scenic beauty by the grandeur and enormity of landforms, they have no gauge to measure the subtle beauty of Iowa.

That is how Elizabeth Corcoran Hill starts out her book “Hiking Iowa: A guide to Iowa’s greatest hiking adventures.” The truth of the statement still rings in my ears. I was born and raised in San Diego California. When I moved to Iowa I was in mid-twenties. At first I was out of place. After a year of living here I had gone “Home” for a visit. I could not wait to get back. As I flew in to Iowa I remember saying, “My God it is beautiful.” I felt glad to be home.

One of the things I have been getting into recently is Bushcraft. I originally started because I wanted to improve my skill set and practice my survival skills. According to Wikipedia, “Bushcraft is about surviving and thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of ancient skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include; firecraft, tracking, hunting, shelter building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, rope and twine-making, and many others. These are the kinds of skills well known to our ancient predecessors, many of which are still practiced today as an everyday skill amongst aboriginal and native peoples around the world.” In looking for information on Bushcrfat I came across the Midwest School Of Bushcraft. http://www.midwestschoolofbushcraft.com/

Part of what I was looking into is where in Iowa to practice these skills. In my area if you want to camp you pay $11 and park it at the local county park next to 30 other campsites. I had heard about the Hiking Iowa book a while back. I got a copy for Christmas. It is a very well done book and breaks hiking spots down in a few different ways. One of the Exciting things the book talks about is what Hill calls “Back Country” camping. Terry Barney the instructor for the Midwest School of Bushcraft likes to take groups to the Loess Hills and Stephens State Forest. Hill points out that Iowa has “seventy state parks and four major forests.” Iowa’s landscape changes depending on where you are in the state. It occurred to me that it would be beneficial to learn more about the variety of resources Iowa has to offer.

My suggestion to readers is to start learning some Bushcraft skills and to also start getting to know the terrain. The first key to survival is mindset, the second key is practice. Don’t wait until SHTF to try and learn how to start a fire. Now is the time to start learning and practicing skills. Not only that but it is fun. I never thought I would be excited to be “in the Bush” but I can’t wait to get out there.
Thank you, FreedomFox

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