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Thread: Stumbled Upon a Natural Spring

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    Default Stumbled Upon a Natural Spring

    Sadly, all of the woods around my area are either A) national forest, or B) private property. I finally found a nice large area of 3-4 mountains and a few valleys that i am allowed to go and have some fun "surviving" in. We won't really be needing for much, but me and a buddy want to scout out a place to make a small natural structure and campsite of some sorts, just to go out for a few weeks during the summer and live off the forest.

    So we were out scouting yesterday, when i step into a wet spot on the ground. We dig down with sticks and find a very nice, flowing natural spring. We dug enough that it basically started a new creek down the mountainside.

    Basically, we are really interested in setting up camp right near this spring. Everything is green around it even this early in the year and it is a beautiful spot.

    I'm curious as to what you guys would do with a natural spring like this. We were thinking of digging out 2 routes for the water, one to use the bathroom in and one to drink from and swim in if we dig enough. We still need to test it to make sure it is safe, but there is no foul odor or anything like that.

    We've got a load of tools at our disposal and im just wondering how I might best put this natural spring to work for our campsite (( We are thinking of making a small natural cabin of sorts, a fire pit, a blacksmithing area with a forge of sorts (very primitive) and maybe even plant some corn and other foodstuffs nearby.


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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Part of the reason people don't want other people on their property is they tend to tear things up. Why destroy an ecosystem that might have been there for eons? Enjoy it as it is and leave the digging to the construction folks. You probably have salamanders, frogs, snakes, turtles or even mud puppies that depend on a weep like that for their survival. Then you guys come along and tear it up. Camp near it and enjoy it. If you keep an eye peeled you might even get to see some wildlife. Oh, and never use a waterway as a bathroom. Stay at least 50 feet away from. And treat any water you take from the spring. Just because it's a spring you have no assurance that it's safe to drink from.

    Your post tells me you are fairly young with a bit to learn yet. This would be a good starting point.

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    I am fairly young and still learning... i think you might have a bit of the wrong idea of what is going on here though. What it actually was when we discovered it was only a small wet spot in the ground. You could stand on it like a wet lawn basically, and the moisture only extended for about a 2x2 area (at the surface, anyhow). We've been told we can dig / chop what wood we want to on the land in our own little camp.

    If none of that changes your opinion on the matter, then perhaps maybe im just blatantly wrong here, and will probably stop messing with it. But that said, you seem knowledgeable, and even if you don't agree with what we're doing building our small camp, maybe you can answer some questions for me anyway?

    What we've done so far is turn that small wetspot into a 4x4x4 pond with a small stream running downhill from it. We did that with sticks, and our hands.

    Why should we stay 50 feet away from it? What safety concerns are there, or if there are a lot of them like i think there may be, can you link me to a resource?

    Do you recommend just digging a hole elsewhere to use as our bathroom, or using different spots all the time?

    We're trying to do everything as naturally as possible. The only tools we are taking with us are flint, survival cord, some beans, and a few old sharpened knives and a tomahawk. By "loads of tools at our disposal" I think i may have given the wrong impression, I just meant that we could take a shovel, digging iron, pick, and hand tools like that up there if messing with the spring would be a worthwhile cause. If it isn't, we'll keep to our primitive mindset. We've crafted a few very basic spears, and made a weird wooden net out of these vines we found that we we actually able to catch a few trout in for dinner last night. We've only spent one day up there so far, but want to get the place ready for a several-week stay later on.

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    Senior Member natertot's Avatar
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    Here is a link for you to resource.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/

    It covers water procurement, shelters, food procurement, use of plants, poisonous plants, and much more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by natertot View Post
    Here is a link for you to resource.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/

    It covers water procurement, shelters, food procurement, use of plants, poisonous plants, and much more.
    Wow man, I didn't even know that part of the site existed! Thanks!

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Does that link cover dumping raw sweage into a flowing waterway?

    We are talking about the difference between vandalism and camping.

    Listen to Rick's wisdom. Doing everything "as naturally as possible" means leaving things as you found them.

    Yes, dig your "hole" to poop in as far from any water as possible. Pooping in a waterway carries disease to everyone downhill from you.

    All in all I think you will find that your seep will dry up when summer comes. Most of them do. If it were a strong spring it would have had some flow when you arrived based on our current southeastern weather patterns.
    A person often meets his destiny while walking the path he took to avoid it.

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    Senior Member Thaddius Bickerton's Avatar
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    Goodness I don't want to sound all preachy and tree huggy, but perhaps a bit more research into the how to's of being in the woods would be in order.

    One thing, please don't use water as a toilet. Dig a cat hole back from the water and use that then bury the cat hole.

    If it is on your land or you have permission, you may want a latrine for a longer term camp. (fancy word for a backwoods outhouse , perhaps with only bushes hiding the place. Put it away from you camp far enough that it doesn't spoil your camp sight with smells or attracted bugs.

    I prefer to camp in such a manner that someone coming where I camped the next day would have a hard time telling I had been there. This is especially important if you are practicing survival from people who would do you harm, but always nice for the next fellow to come through.

    If you give yourself a month of reading on the web, and also a visit to the library to read some older editions of boy scout manuals and other woodcraft books you will be much happier in the woods and find your visit there more enjoyable.

    I am fond of the saying that the more you know the less you have to carry, but first you have to learn, and that is knowledge paid for with coin of you life from a purse that once empty can never be refilled.

    I congratulate you on seeking knowledge from others. I'm sure you will also have some insights to share with us.

    As for finding a spring that is pretty cool.

    A lot of interesting reading can be had by looking up buckskinning, pioneer living, homesteading and such and reading the older stuff published prior to electrification of the country.

    If you can get ahold of them (most libraries have copies) the foxfire books have a ton of interesting stuff in them also.

    Anyway welcome to the way of the woodsloafer, it is an addictive lifestyle.

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    Thanks for all of your input I'll definitely go to an army surplus store down the road, I saw several boy scout manuals and other survival books on the shelves in there . I'm going to be doing plenty of learning before we actually get into setting up camp mode anyway, so to those that reacted harshly to my ideas - don't fret, they are just that!
    Last edited by AncientCWS; 03-30-2012 at 01:12 PM.

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    Don't take it that we reacted harshly. It's a learning process that you have go through. While the seep may look appealing recognize that it might be appealing to other animals and that in turn you might have a lot more fun and more memorable learning if you watch how animals (insects, amphibians and the rest) interact there. Some of my best times were just watching animals be animals.

    I'm with Traddeus in that I like to leave no trace of where I was. It's sort of my payback to nature and anything or anyone that follows me and needs to use that spot. The saying is, "leave only footprints and take only memories" and that's sort of how I believe.

    As others have indicated, improper hygiene is and always has been a source of disease. The 50 foot rule ensures that your waste doesn't contaminate a waterway even in heavy rain. There are two schools of thought on how to dispose of human waste. One is through the use of a cathole in which you bury it as Thaddius said. The other is to leave it open where nature and the sun can break it down. If you are in true wilderness then the latter method would work well. If you are in an area where others will be or plan to come back to a given area then the use of a cathole is probably best. If you happen to be in a watershed protection area then you may be subject to fines if caught doing it in any manner.

    Here's a source that says not within 200 feet. (scroll down to the green text)

    http://faculty.deanza.edu/donahuemary/stories/storyReader$3518

    And another one that references 200 feet. (I may have to change my thoughts on this)

    http://www.outdoorhub.com/how-to/how...e-in-the-wild/

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    Ah I understand now, I misread that. I thought he was saying I should stay 50 ft from the spring at all times :P My bad! Yeah, I'll be sure that we use the bathroom a good ways away from the water, then. I don't know about leaving no trace though, because I was really looking forward to setting up a small, primitive blacksmith type area in the camp. My buddy has his sights set on building a small place to sleep in and whatnot using deadwood and lashings and things like that. People will be able to tell we have been there, but they are free to stop by there as well.

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    We don't mean don't use it just try to return back to the way you found when you are done. If you choose to put up a primitive shelter, post a tent or any other type of shelter that's fine. Go and have a good time and enjoy the place. Just try to enjoy what's there as opposed to transforming the place into what your vision of it should be. Work with it instead of against it for lack of a better phrase.

    I was in the woods last week-end with no trace that anyone had been around. Then I stumbled into an area that people had discarded their tent, wine bottles, trash and paper rather than carry it out. No one else will be able to use or enjoy that place now and it was far too much for me to take out by myself. Pretty sad.

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    I agree I hate going into a place and people trashed it up,I try to leave very little evidence that I was even their

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    We don't mean don't use it just try to return back to the way you found when you are done. If you choose to put up a primitive shelter, post a tent or any other type of shelter that's fine. Go and have a good time and enjoy the place. Just try to enjoy what's there as opposed to transforming the place into what your vision of it should be. Work with it instead of against it for lack of a better phrase.

    I was in the woods last week-end with no trace that anyone had been around. Then I stumbled into an area that people had discarded their tent, wine bottles, trash and paper rather than carry it out. No one else will be able to use or enjoy that place now and it was far too much for me to take out by myself. Pretty sad.
    I know what you mean by this man. Me and my father used to fish all of the time, and we slowly noticed that some of the local farm owners would no longer allow fishing on their property. We volunteered to clean up the trash around the ponds (from other fisherman, dad would have killed me if I ever littered) and they let us go ahead and fish. I would never leave trash or anything unnatural around. Usually we don't even take much plastic up there, except perhaps jugs of water - but they always come back with us for sure

    We found loads of marine clay up there today. A little rooting around in it with our hands and a few nearby sticks turned up a lot of ... i guess fossilized / imprinted shells. It's interesting because we were fairly up in the appalachians. I knew the entire area around here had once been covered with oceans, but its just really cool to see the history first hand and whatnot

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    Always stay down slope of your water source and more importantly, KNOW what is up source ! ! I once caught a tourist drinking from here in a stream down slope from a local small town in the UP of Michigan. I ask them if they were not concerned about polution of the water. Their answer was," No, because we are out of big cities of southern Michigan". Well this stream flowed through a dairy farm a quarter mile up stream and just above that, several homes discharged their sewage directly into the ditch outside their home, which drained into the stream in question. My point here is that most streams in wild/remote areas are not safe to drink from with out treating the water and seeps such as you described, are most likely to transfer surface polution in the spring, before the dry up later in the year.

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    Good point, I don't trust ANY water unless it's been treated or come from my well, or tap....and bottled water.
    Survival isn't a game...it's what you do when the game goes sideways.

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    What you guys are doing is not surviving, but simply camping out and learning wilderness skills. The first part of that is learning to coexist and understanding nature itself. Respect nature more than you respect yourself and your friends, and it will provide unending pleasure and resources in return.

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    Yeah, it's often a good idea to know what's upstream where ever you are.

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    Hopefully that diaper won't pop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildthang View Post
    What you guys are doing is not surviving, but simply camping out and learning wilderness skills. The first part of that is learning to coexist and understanding nature itself. Respect nature more than you respect yourself and your friends, and it will provide unending pleasure and resources in return.
    No shut?.....LOL, the surviving part comes in by doing something stupid like drinking any old thing that comes along.....unless you absolutely have to with out at least trying to treat it.
    Yes you are correct.......That's the ticket ...camping.....
    Survival isn't a game...it's what you do when the game goes sideways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hunter63 View Post
    No shut?.....LOL, the surviving part comes in by doing something stupid like drinking any old thing that comes along.....unless you absolutely have to with out at least trying to treat it.
    Yes you are correct.......That's the ticket ...camping.....
    Yeah I ran into some " SURVIVORS " one time out in the woods of Oklahoma, and they were all so sick, they were pooping and puking their brains out. They were so weak that they couldn't even hike out.
    I ask them what made them so sick, and they said mushrooms. I ask them what kind, and they replied, well we thought they were silicibins, you know, the ones that grow on cow poop!
    I told them to give me a phone number of somebody that would come and get them, gave them what food and water I had on me, and left laughing my azz off. Since they had been there for a week, I didn't figure they were going to die, and since there was 4 of them, I couldn't carry them all out of there.
    I called their friends, and met them at a nearby road and showed them where they were. I guess they got home alright I dont know!
    But looking back, that was the most miserable bunch of hippies I have ever seen, and would give anything if I had taken a picture of them! The whole camp smelled like hippie poop and puke!

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    Senior Member Thaddius Bickerton's Avatar
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    What everyone of us is saying in our own way is that we wish we could be around to share what we learned (often the hard way) about how things work in the out of doors.

    You have a great adventure ahead of you.

    Please keep sharing it with us, not only for input, but so we can enjoy the joy you are having along with you.

    I think that the reason so many of us come to these forums is to share with others and to learn how to do it different or better.

    Rick: I had thought about just telling him to use leave scat out to degrade, but thought that a cat hole was a more all around better answer for Virginia.

    I have family up in that area and no place there doesn't see other people unless it is on private land, and even then over time others are gonna come through.

    Ya'll gotta allow, I would love to pull a nessmuk and just go to the woods, free to build stuff and camp and all, but things are a tad more crowded than they used to be.

    As for survival, well ya start by crawling, then ya get where ya don't need as much stuff.

    I will tell ya, a lot of what I use in the woods , you can practice in a back yard , Try taking your woods gear out into the back yard for the night and don't go back inside once you get there and test out your ideas with a solid safety net before you try it where a failure might get you into a problem.

    Some things for the backyard practice.

    Building fire
    boiling water (even if it is tap, you can pretend it is from a mud hole)
    sleeping out
    carving spoons etc
    First aid (make a sling, make a travoi stretcher and pull each other around to see how hard that would be, etc)
    Dig a hole (make a cache)
    lash poles together
    sharpen a knife
    make a leather or cloth project and test it out (knife sheath, wool blanket shirt, rain gear, etc)


    cook a meal
    sit and enjoy a camp fire

    The list is as big as your imagination.

    oh, and keep the info flowing, there are a ton of ideas and knowledge just waiting to be shared and spur new ideas and plans.

    Well as usual the ramble is in full novel mode.

    Was outside earlier cleaning out a ditch that was getting overgrown, I ended up with about 20 nice 10 foot sapling poles that i painted the ends and peeled and have drying in the storage / goat shed. Not sure where or how they will be used, but lot of fun.

    Remember that your local library may have copies of old woods craft manuals, scout manuals, old (70's and 80's) mother earth news, and any number of older books that have resources that the Political Correct people have removed from the current editions of the books.

    Especially good are the older manuals and such. Heck the older ARRL ham radio books at the library teach how to build stuff using stuff instead of buying kits.

    I built my first di/pole antenna using info from that and used it with a CB radio to talk for years before I bought me a ground plane one. Also an inverted rhombus one that was able to be hoisted into a tree for use in the field.

    also look for oreenteering and perhaps geo caching sites on the web to get a leg up on map and gps navigation.

    and blue water sailors books will tell you how to stock a boat for ocean trips which gets you thinking about all the self sufficiency stuff that one needs when the store isn't just a car trip away.

    well all for the moment.

    have fun out there and any help ya get, pay it forward.

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