(SUSAN PARRISH/Between the Rivers Gathering)
SURVIVAL GATHERING: Between the Rivers holding week-long primitive skills gathering for seventh year in a row…
If you’ve seen reality TV shows like “Alone” or “Mountain Men” and have been curious about learning primitive, ancestral and survival skills, here’s your chance. About 80 primitive skills and self-sufficiency experts will teach hands-on classes at the Between the Rivers Gathering May 27-June 1 at Grouse Creek Farm, 3586 Solokar Road, Valley, about 10 miles south of Chewelah on Highway 395.
“With my army of volunteers it takes three days to set up for Between the Rivers,” said Patrick Farneman, executive director of Bridges to the Past, the nonprofit organization that produces the event.
It’s the seventh year for this family-friendly event attended by students of all ages. Students can learn to start a bow-drill fire, brain tan a deer hide, weave a bark basket, felt wool, make a bow, arrows and arrowheads, forage for edible and medicinal plants in the woods and much more at this northeastern Washington ancestral skills and self-sufficiency gathering.
NE Washington usually provides mild spring weather, a temperate climate, beautiful rolling mountains and varied landscapes of rivers and forests for people coming from all over.
“We may have some bagpipes this year, and we have over 20 new instructors teaching new classes in addition to over 60 returning instructors,” Farneman said. “This year we have people coming from all over the world, not just this continent. Several people are attending from Europe and Israel. Because of the reach of the internet, we have found global interest and support.”
They expect over 300 people at the event this year. The week-long community event is focused on basic skills and knowledge including “camping, finding food, creating tools and art from what is given in nature, and the ancient skills of making fire, finding water, clothing ourselves and most importantly, enjoying a simplified life—especially in the outdoors,” Farneman said.
Evenings after classes, participants gather around the campfire for singing and playing acoustic music. One evening features a talent show. The event’s Scottish Highland Games are Thursday, May 30, beginning around 7 p.m.
“Highland games are being run by some friends who compete regularly in heavy games where they live,” Farneman said. Campers dress in traditional kilts and Scottish garb and participate in a caber toss, rock toss and footrace.
Classes at the week long event will include bows, basketry, blacksmithing, brain-tanning, buck-skinning, tanning fox furs, clothing and decoration, fibers including spinning and felting wool, cordage and weaving, flint knapping, leatherworking, hunting, traps and snares, lithic (stone) tools, seed saving and sustainable gardening, shelters, silversmithing, survival skills, weapons, wild food and medicinals as well as woodworking musical instruments, friction fire and more.
There will be an archery range, on-site camping and communal meals as well.
Classes, workshops and meals are for paying participants. Most participants will take classes all week, camp on-site and eat meals communally. Day fees apply for non-campers. There is no fee for visitors who want to walk around the area.