News from Blackthorn Base

So here it is, almost spring 2017, and almost time to kick off another season of outdoor adventures and training. When we last met here we had just designed an entirely new website. That was two years ago. A lot has happened since then and I thought I’d take a moment to update those who haven’t been out to see us recently.

In the summer of 2015 we purchased an additional property about six miles away from our original location. Our intention was to develop this new property into our new headquarters, or Blackthorn Base Camp. This brings our total training area to 430 acres and both properties border 12,000 acres of Public Wildlife land. We’ve got room to explore.

Our new property was, and is, heavily forested. So much in fact that when we first started clearing areas the tress wouldn’t fall once they were cut. They would just lean into the next one. When we did get them down, we had nowhere to put the brush, and couldn’t burn it in the forest. Our first major purchase was a trailer mounted, V8 powered, wood chipper. Life got a little easier.

Most of winter 2015 and spring of 2016 was spent clearing trees and processing them into firewood, chips for trails, and logs for future building projects. We cleared a gathering area, campsites, parking areas, training areas, cut in new trails and about two thousand feet of new road. We hauled in stone and made fire rings and a small foot bridge on one of the trails. Our cooking structure and hide tanning racks were built, and an Adirondack lean-to was started from logs harvested on site.

As the weather became warmer we started concentrating on infrastructure and the site plan. It was a stop and go process as we were now fully involved with the county planning and zoning departments. We did what we could including digging in thousands of feet of water and power lines. We purchased a road grader and a skid steer to develop and maintain our roads and parking. A couple small buildings were built along with a couple semi-permanent tents and shelters.

After many months of meetings with zoning officials, surveyors, planning committees, county board of directors, fire marshals and anyone who could squeeze a dollar out of us we finally got approved to develop our site plan as we envisioned it. This was October 2016. So now, while we are a few thousand dollars poorer, we are on track to continue development of Blackthorn Base.

So here it is winter again, and we’re back to cutting trees… Although now we have a sawmill so we can turn them into lumber. But classes have slowed down this time of year and we’re still busy everyday getting the site ready for next season. Lots of projects ongoing and coming in the future. It’s going to be fun! We’re looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones as we settle into our new place.

I’m grateful that I have an understanding family, good friends and great instructors that have helped me along the way. I also appreciate all of you who have come out and spent time with us. You really are my incentive to create this training site.

Thanks, Dave

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