How to get water and food in winter?
Imagine you are looking for food and water. You are in a forest and around you there is snow covering fallen tree trunks and ice-covered marshes. When asked about examples of food in a forest environment, most people immediately list mushrooms and berries (blueberry, cowberry, wild strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, etc.). However, it is not a food that provides the right amount of protein - an important building block of the body. In addition, most edible mushrooms and berries are found only in summer and early fall. If you're wondering how to find food during freezing weather, check out the article below. In the post, I also answer the question whether it is possible to obtain drinking water from snow.
How to find wholesome food in a winter forest?
It all depends on what forest you are in. The greatest chance of finding food is in wilderness, mixed forests and wetlands, and the lowest in typical forests. If a forest is limited to only one species of tree and to a peloid undergrowth, it is difficult to expect real - and edible - treasures of nature in it.
Winter firefly mycelium against the background of tree trunks:
Dry leaves of the broad-leaved cattail, also known as the cattail. The top of the plant is not edible, but it is enough to dig in the ground just below the leaves to get to the rhizomes. Those in winter store the nutrients produced by the plant in summer. Rhizomes can be eaten raw or you can start a fire to bake a valuable part of it.
Beetle larvae, which often feed on fallen, decaying tree trunks. It is enough to tear off the head of the insects, squeeze the entrails and you can eat. The grubs are almost pure protein. You can bake them over a fire just like sausages.
Edible mushrooms occur mainly in the forest at the turn of summer and fall, but some species can also be found in winter. Look for Enoki mushrooms, elderberries or oyster mushroom. Boil the mushrooms in water before eating. In a winter survival situation, you can also use chaga mushroom - a healing mushroom that grows on birches like a black, protruding shell. Tea made from chaga has an analgesic and antipyretic effect, so it will be useful in case of an infection.
The anthill, or rather its underground structures, is inhabited in winter by hibernating ants. If you are struggling to survive, you should have no qualms about digging up an anthill and extracting raw, sour-tasting nest tenants.
The fruits of the plants are also found in winter. Pay attention to the vitamin C-rich wild rose and sea buckthorn. They taste best after the first frost.
In this post, I focused on gathering. However, you have to bear in mind that if you want to survive in the wild for more than 2-3 weeks, you should be interested in primitive hunting methods. I don't mean hunting a boar with a spear or a handmade bow. After all, the success of such an undertaking would be close to a miracle. It will be much easier and safer to set makeshift snares in the form of loops made of ropes, strings or wire. Traps set up at night on the path of animals stuck in the snow will give you a chance for a solid breakfast in the form of a hare.
It is also worth hunting for smaller rodents such as mice and voles. It is enough to set primitive crushing traps built on the basis of stone and a few sticks. You can also try your luck at fishing with the Survival Kit with hooks and lines. There are many possibilities of using the set and it is only up to you how you use the items to fight for survival.
Snow as a source of drinking water
You can survive up to 3 weeks without food, but without water - only 3 days. This is why knowledge of obtaining water in the short term is much more important than knowing how to obtain food. There are. many ways to stay hydrated in winter, especially when you have drinks prepared in advance, poured into thermoses or bottles. However, I decided to do a little experiment and went on a winter trip to the Golden Mountains for two days. I didn't take a drop of water - why should I carry it when it was all around me in the form of snow?
When planning to obtain water from snow, remember a few important rules:
Don't eat snow! You can only do this in one situation - when you are marching in mountainous terrain and you are well warmed up. Otherwise, you will cool down very quickly and your body will start to use up energy reserves for thermoregulatory purposes.
Snow is air! Eating snow does not pay off, because most of it consists of air, not water. In order to stay hydrated, you would have to eat a lot of white powder, which is a simple way to cool down and cause hypothermia.
Water obtained from snow is clean and drinkable, just like rainwater. So if you need to know how not to poison yourself with water in the field, you don't have to cook the snow lying in the forest...
…but you should make a fire anyway. You will need fire to turn white fluff into water. Hang a snow-filled tourist vessel just above the heat. After a while, the snow will disappear and some water will appear at the bottom of the pot or mug. Fill the vessel with white fluff again and repeat this operation until the desired amount of warm water is obtained. Drink for health!
You can try to melt the snow without fire, but this is a time-consuming and inefficient method. Fill the foil bag with snow and place it as close to the body as possible (not close to the skin, so as not to cause frostbite!). A pocket in a warm sweatshirt under the jacket will be a good place. March, work in the camp, generally move. After a few hours, you should be provided with some potable water.
In the Golden Mountains, I used the method of melting snow over a fire, in the Alps I ate snow, and during forest walks I tried to melt it between layers of clothing. The most effective and, at the same time, the most demanding method was heating snow over the fire.
Finally, an important point. While we can easily survive 2-3 days thanks to snow water, it will not irrigate us sufficiently in the long run. All because of the lack of mineral salts.
Remember an ad for a famous isotonic drink that "hydrated better than water"? The ad didn't lie. The drink contained electrolytes and mineral salts, which in some amounts even "tap water", and which are devoid of rainwater and water obtained from snow. That is why in forests there are placed "licks", i.e. poles covered with salt. Thanks to them, animals replenish the supply of mineral salts that are not supplied by rainwater. So try to find an unfrozen stream as much as possible and use a filter bottle to clean the water flowing from the slopes. The carbon fiber membrane with microscopic cavities will be an effective barrier against bacteria and protozoa. Thanks to the filter, you get water in which - unlike snow - you will not run out of precious minerals.
Author: Kajetan Wilczyński
Edited by: Tomasz Świgoń