Here’s the Primitive Pursuits apprentice group, our clothes stuffed with leaves for insulation.
We tested it out by pouring buckets of frigid water from a nearby stream on each other:
The genesis of my debris hut.
Sleeping in this debris shelter, as it is known, in 15 degree weather was a lot of things, and painful was one of them. But it was also awesome. There’s something incredibly invigorating
about laying immobile, arms pinned to your sides, head against a tree trunk, feeling smushed and mummified in a dark and freezing tunnel. I laid like that for four hours or so, breathing sweet hemlock-scented air, not really sure if my eyes were open or closed, unclear on whether my mind was awake or dreaming
I was entirely present, focused wholly on the uncomfortable cold torturing my body, as I couldn’t think of anything other than willing myself to stay there. I could only find one glove, and my toes hurt. But I wanted to stick it out for the night. What resulted was an amazing experience, about as exciting and challenging as anything can be. The highlight was when I wiggled out, shined a flashlight inside the shelter and saw the most beautiful series of wooden ribs over my head. I emerged to rejoin the group at the fire when the sensation in my toes crossed the line from painful to numb, and I figured that frost bite was not worth toughing it out any longer. Others had a less torturous experience — they were the folks wise enough to know that no amount of leaves is enough insulation. Whereas my shelter was maybe one foot deep on one side and two on the other. If I did it over, I’d aim for, say, 6 feet on either side.