I'd like to sign up for another year of The Tracker. And also, I have a short story to
tell of an experience I had a few weeks ago.
What I learned from my Standard Class in January of 1983 turned what could have been a
very miserable night into a pleasant experience. I was out in a boat beachcombing the
shores near the camp I live in, when the motor blew up. It was about one hour before dark.
What is a 20-minute boat ride from camp turned into a three-hour hike back to camp by the
shoreline. The shoreline here on Prince of Whales Island is very broken up as is most of
I hiked for about an hour before it became too dark to walk. With the rocks always
being wet from the tide and being so broken up walking in the dark I was sure to break a
leg or ankle. I had told my friends where I was going so thought for sure they would come
look for me after a while. I just sat down on a rock and waited. After a couple of hours,
it became obvious that no one was coming to pick me up. So, I would have to spend the
night where I was. At first, I thought I'd sit it out 'til morning, but was soon doing a
workout in place to keep warm, and was getting sleepy besides.
It was light enough so that I could see somewhat, so I decided to build a survival hut.
I cleared an area under a small spruce and started the wooden framework. This was easy as
driftwood was all over. I did lay down a layer of spruce limbs, then a layer of grass to
keep me off the wet ground. It rains almost daily this time of year and the ground was
When the frame and mat were done, I started on the insulation. The only thing to use
for this that was handy was grass, and there wasn't much of that. I started at the hut
cutting the bunches of grass and making a layer about six inches deep on the hut. I was
soon going 100 feet or more away from the hut to get grass. This was very slow, as I was
walking over the beach again.
After about an hour and a half, I had a six-inch layer over everything but the door. I
decided this was good enough. I backed in and went to sleep. I stretched out as much as
possible the first time and soon woke up chilly. So, I crawled back out and did another
workout 'til I was good and warm.
When I crawled in this time, I balled up as much as possible to conserve body heat.
This helped as it was probably an hour before I woke up chilly again. Once again I did a
workout and crawled back inside. Every time I would crawl outside I would realize how much
heat this hut contained for me. The colder air would hit me as I poked my head out the
door. This impressed me as I knew it was poorly insulated at best. Just wish I could have
gotten about three feet of grass and closed the door.
||During the night I would awaken and hear the world about me going on
as if I weren't there. I could hear mice chew grass off, they were so close to my head.
The seals would splash like a beaver does when alarmed. I think he was just playing. The
splash would make all the birds come alive. The loons would give their eerie laugh and the
seagulls would squack and the ducks would quack. A couple of mink wandered close enough to
scent me, then clattered loudly and ran away.
About an hour before light it started to rain, and by light it had soaked through the
grass. By then I didn't mind and just laid there proud of myself and thankful of others
willing to share their knowledge.
About one half hour after light, I started to hike the rest of the way to camp. As my
work as a logger keeps me in good shape, I was able to jog most of the way. As I got to
the dock at camp a boat was running with no one around. I had gotten back before they left
to look for me. I met them coming down to the dock as I walked up the road to camp. They
all wanted to know what happened and where I spent the night. They were sure I was cold
I told them of the hut and no, I wasn't cold or miserable, but I don't know if they
believed me or not. We went back and took care of the boat. Then I went home and showered,
and put on dry clothes. By the time morning had come in the hut, I was glad no one had
come to get me the night before. I told them this. I know they didn't believe me, but I
know it's true!
Michael Kampnich Ketchikan, Alaska
To the Tracker Family:
This is my first letter to The Tracker Newsletter. I've attempted some others but
rejected them because of not being good enough. I'm pleased with the newsletter and think
four times a year is fine. I also think student input is important to the health of any
magazine or newsletter so that the same few people are not always having to come up with
an article. I've thought about writing something but up until now I have not found a good
enough subject. I was thinking maybe other students might also feel what they might want
to contribute is not good enough either, so I was glad to see in your front page that you
need student input.
If I may, could I make a suggestion (if you have not already thought of it and rejected
it)! Could there be a section in the newsletter where students could ask questions of Tom
about tracking or wilderness survival, etc.? It would be like Tom asking Stalking Wolf (I
know Stalking Wolf would not answer Tom's questions but would make Tom find out). Anyway,
it would show other students that others are involved, and maybe they in turn would
If you will have a question and answer section, could I ask the first question, Tom?
Stalking Wolf lived an active life and lived a long life. What kind of diet would you say
is important to help live a more active life?
In the newsletter I see all classes are now held in New Jersey due to economic reasons
and Tom's availability. Also, I see that the Tracker Rendezvous is in August in New
Jersey. I was saddened to hear there would not be one held in Washington State. Is this
I will close for now, wishing all of you the very best.
P.S. Say Hi to Craig Hook and tell him I will be in the log house by June. (Tell him to
send his new address to me if he has moved to Monroe.)
Ron Moss Brush Prairie, Washington
I wish to share a poem that has come through to me for you. Please feel free to print
it in your newsletter if you like.
It was surely a more beautiful experience to me this year, as I
really didn't know what the school was exactly about last year.
My yearning to be there each year is held on to through my dreams and spending lots of
time out of doors through the year.
I'm so glad to have Lynn and Steve who live close by to share with, and to keep me
updated on all the news from your school. I can see how they both have blossomed. I knew
them both before they were married, and what a beautiful growth they are developing,
especially through you.
I look forward to seeing you next year at the Rendezvous, and hopefully attending a
vision quest class. All good medicine.
Ruth Bullock, Newark, DE