Place: Långhundra Härad, Sweden
Time: 3 days in February
The plan was to execute a JVMS (Jonas Vildmark's Method for Survival Training) this Christmas; a "Christmas Survival" as a sequel to my "Midsummer Survival". But this Christmas just offered +50°F (+10°C) and no snow so I postponed my little adventure. Now it's February and raining. I better do this before the little snow we have disappears for good. This weekend I'll head out for a JVMS 5.
Yo can read the details of the JVMS concept HERE. The method consists of a formula [xobject+10xkm+10xh] showing the relation between objects, distance and time. This summer I did a JVMS 6; were I was outdoors for 60 hours hiking 60 kilometers with only 6 objects. Now I''ll try a JVMS 5; walking 50 km for 50 hours with 5 things in my gear. My equipment this time is:
2. Winter boots
3. Winter overall
5. Water bottle
I'm glad I took my winter hunting boots (Spirale) as the grounds are pretty wet this weekend. However rubber boots aren't ideal when hiking longer distances. The sweat stays inside the boots and the fit of the rubber boots never get as tight as a leather boot with shoe laces. A good fit is important to avoid blisters on my feet. Anyhow, my feet are so much happier this time compared to last time when I didn't bring any socks at all. This time I used socks from Blue Wear.
When I start off my weekend adventure (Friday 14.00) the temperature is showing +34°F (+1°C) and as it's getting darker the rain picks up. Foolishly of me I haven't tested my new overall (Blue Wear) prior to this training. The 100 % Polyester garmond is suppose to be somewhat water resistant. But in fact the rain really like getting sucked into this jump suit. So this first night is being spent standing as close as possible to the struggling fire in the rain. As I'm all naked underneath the overall I also get to learn that the seams of the suit isn't really wind proof. I can especially feel this when crossing fields where the wind is keeping me company.
The choice of bringing a lighter (Bic) this time was good. The flame from the lighter was needed to light the wet tinder. This would have been tougher using a fire steel. However a lighter is sensitive to dirt and water so I need to blow and shake the lighter clean from time to time. It's a challenge getting a fire started in the rain and then keeping it alive only using wet wood picked from the ground. During Day 2 I manage to dry some birch tinder in a pocket so my seconds fire is a bit easier to get started.
One good thing with snow is that it's a good water source where ever you go during Winter. With my drinking bottle (Primus) i melt snow into longed for warm water. I take the opportunity to drink when I have the fire running and during this weekend I drink 5 liters of snow water.
Besides the five objects I also bring my emergency kit for safety. This kit consists of; a first aid bandage, a CAT, a cellphone, a compressed sleeping bag and my ID. The safety kit is only intended to be used if I find myself in a real emergency situation.
I have planned a hiking route circling around the grounds around the cabin. The snow offers a lot of interesting game tracking. I'm impressed how much Hare these woods keep this year. But I also see a lot of traces of big Moose and the Roe Deer is quite curious on what I'm doing out here.
During the second night the wet and cold has really taken it's toll and I'm close to call off the training as it feels like I won't be able to do the last 10 kilometers anyhow. But after a couple of hours of sleep that morning I get my motivation and strength up to finish off the last stretch just within my time frame... A really nice feeling. My hiking this weekend looked something like this; 15 km Day 1, 25 km Day 2 and 10 km Day 3.
The harsh circumstances made these 50 hours feel pretty long. Interesting to explore what freezing does to my physical status; very energy consuming. This was reflecting om my hiking pace that became a lot slower than usual. A aspect that also differed from my summer session is the short days during Winter.
I was set on not eating anything during my 50 hours, except for the water. Instead I use my energy reserves stored in my body. I lost 6 kilos of my body weight during the 50 hours (from 86-80 kg). Always interesting to get to know my body's reaction to starvation i combination with physical activities. By now I know how my body respond to activities like this.
After 24 hours I start thinking about food
After 30 hours I get a headache and feel a bit sick
After 40 hours my hunger feelings has gone away
Pending on how much sleep I get; I get a bit slow in my thinking and movement after about one day.
When finally back home I celebrate with a big plate of chicken and fries finishing of with a good hot cup of coffee. An interesting observation is that I the morning after had lost yet another kilo despite my feast the night before. Just as my body was consuming energy when taking care of all that food in my starved system. Grateful for not having any stomach problems this time either.
Other Lessons Learned
As you probably understood by now; this JVMS was a bit tougher than the one I did this summer. The wet made me cold that then led to a big energy loss. This in combination with no food and very little sleep took it's toll on the hiking pace. I was pretty sure I was gonna catch a cold on that first night but I can gladly say that I'm still feel good. Stubborn as I am I never used the sleeping bag in the emergency kit. Instead I worked out the cold by moving around or keeping close to the fire. Obviously stubbornness and hardheadedness is survival techniques that works. But than again; you need to ask yourself how sophisticated and healthy the "hardhead method" really is.
Regarding the choice of gear I probably wanna bring a more robust and water resistant overall the next time and swish the rubber boots into a pair of high well oiled leather boots for better hiking comfort.
When it comes to the method JVMS I think it still works. This session was tough but I made it within the framework of the method. And as long as I feel I learn something from each session the goal is achieved.
Now I have tested a couple of low JVMS (a 6 and a 5). It will be interesting to see how the method holds up when trying a longer session like for instance a JVMS 14.
I'm truly grateful for the things I have learned about myself during this adventure. Although the conditions were challenging it's always a privilege to be able to take part of Nature's wisdom, strength and beauty.
All feedback is welcome and please let me know if You are planing to execute a JVMS; would be great to hear about your JVMS adventure and your reflections on the method after testing it yourself. But remember to always put your and your friend's safety first.
If your interested in reading a bit more about my Midsummer Survival you can do so HERE.