Cody Lundin Survival Course
July 31-August 1, 2004

On July 31 - August 1, 2004 I had the privilege of attending Cody Lundin's Provident Primitive survival course. This two day course was located in northern Arizona.

Enroute to our starting point.
Ready to begin.
In my other life I am a computer programming trainer in Chicago.
Dawn is a massage therapist from New Jersey. She also teaches watershed programs to grade school children.
Guy is a physician. He just completed an internship in Salt Lake City and will be returning to Montana.
Roy owns a restaurant in Phoenix.
Cody Lundin is our very capable instructor for the weekend.
And we're off...
This plateau is bone dry, but there's some promising greenery down there!
In the foreground is the trail which will lead us down to the river.
Enjoying the view.
Approaching the river.
Dawn crosses the river.
This river valley will be our home for two days. Worth the price of admission just to be here.
Upon arriving at our base camp our first order of business was to set up a tarp shelter in case we were struck by monsoon rains, which are common in Arizona in July and August.
Cody discusses the rabbitstick. For those who are not familiar with it, the rabbitstick is a throwing stick, shaped like a crude boomerang. It is usually heavier than a boomerang and does not return. It is designed to skim along the ground when thrown at small game such as rabbits. The wide stick has a much greater probability of hitting its target than does a rock.
Cody demonstrates the use of a bola knife in making a rabbit stick.
Me with a bola knife and my partially completed rabbit stick. We used tamarisk, also known as salt cedar. It is a hardwood commonly found in, but not native to, this country.
Enroute to a giant cottonwood Cody affectionately refers to as "Grandmother".
The inner bark from fallen branches of this giant cottonwood will be used to make tinder nests for our fires.
Cody demonstrates hand drill firemaking. Priming the hole.
Carving the all-important keyhole notch.
Gathering seep willow for hand drill firemaking.
Blowing an ember into a flame. I've made fire with a hand drill working as a team, but this was my first time start-to-finish alone.
Guy gets a flame.
Dawn attempts to split a piece of cottonwood from which she will make a bowl. "Nice biceps, Xena."
Freshwater clams were easily harvested from the creek. They were usually found just below the sand. Boil until they open. Cody said he was always told to discard those that don't open.

The meat is small, but this seemed to me a very good return on calories gained for calories spent.

An evening sky like this in Arizona in July and August often means monsoon rains.
When it started to rain, we retired to our sleeping bags under the tarp. The rain was, however, very shortlived.
Telling tales under the tarp.
Silver nightshade. Pretty purple flowers. A member of the tomato family. Notice the yellow fruits. This plant and its fruits are not edible.
Fremont bayberry.
I've eaten prickly pear pads many times in southern California. But contrary to what I have read elsewhere, Cody insists that not all prickly pear pads are edible. I need to find out more...
During our edible plants walk we cross the river to reach a stand of very large cattail.
Cody attempts to pulls up some cattail. This one is so big he has to settle for cutting it off at the base.
Carefully peel away the leaves to get to the heart. Cattail heart is delicious. It reminds me of celery heart but milder and less stringy. Again, plenty of food for little effort. That's important in a survival situation!
Gourd canteen project. Start with gourd. Take it down to the creek and scrub it with wet sand to remove the white stuff, which is really just mold.
After washing gourd, cut off the top. Use a long flexible stick to clean out the insides as best you can, then take it down to the creek and rinse the inside repeatedly with a slushy mixture of water, sand and pebbles.
Use reverse twist method to make simple rope from jute. Tie a ring for the top and a ring for the bottom. Tie top ring to bottom ring with simple weave as shown here. Our time here is limited, so after returning home, rinse repeatedly with boiling water to leach out impurities.

Pretty cool looking, huh?

Piute deadfall trap.
Once again I find myself distracted by the scenery.
Survivors...Dawn, Bill, Roy and Guy.
Cody and Bill. Thanks, Cody!
It's over.
"I learned in medical when you can, sleep when you can."
A few words about Cody...This guy's the real thing. I have a lot of respect for Cody, not only as a survivalist but as an instructor. One comment he made on Sunday around noon was very telling: he said, "We have work to do. By now you are probably thinking, we could have left a couple of hours ago and it would have been fine with me. I've learned a lot and I think I have gotten my money's worth. But there is more to do." His comment taught me two things. First, he was right. We were getting tired. I noticed I was moving slower than the day before. Despite conscious efforts to stay hydrated, I think we were all suffering a little bit from dehydration. How can that happen when we are twenty feet from a river? It is a silent enemy. Every breath contributes to your dehydration. (I drank a lot of water during the day. Was I dehydrated from the night's sleep?) The low humidity dries your sweat before you can see it. You must be ever vigilant about it! Second, his comment showed an awareness of his audience and their well being. He has done this many, many times with many, many students. This level of understanding comes only with experience. Cody, I think you did a great job.
For more information on Cody Lundin and his Aboriginal Living Skills School go to
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Copyright © 2004 by Bill Qualls. Last updated August 9, 2004.