One of the most prolific trees in the world is the pine tree.
There are 126 confirmed species that call the northern hemisphere home, along with one that ventures south of the equator. With that kind of territory, it is important to know how it can be used.
1. Equipment Repair
We coasted over the waters of White Otter Lake in Ontario, Canada. It was a truly beautiful location with loons diving and singing in the evening air. We were headed for a small island in the center of the lake to make camp.
While exploring the area, we came upon a group of fellow adventurers with a leaking canoe. It turns out that one of the rivets in their aluminum hulled boat had popped out during their trip. There were two choices.
The first was to continue to bail water along their trip. The second was to use the repair kit given by Mother Nature: the pine tree.
To fix the canoe, we broke a small pine twig that would fit into the hole. We then used a knife to cut a small slit in the trunk of the tree. As the sap oozed, we coated the twig in the pitch and then wedged it into the space of the missing rivet. Problem solved.
So what else is available for this jack-of-all-trees?
2. Fire Building
One of the best ways to get a fire built in wetter weather, or any weather for that matter, is to use pine. While it's not the cleanest burning wood, it does light well.
Fire can be started using pine cones as in the picture above. However, you can also coat twigs in pitch to serve as a wonderful fire starter or make fuzz sticks to get flame.
If you use pine to create fuzz sticks, be sure to use older sticks or coat in fresh pitch. Don't forget to gather up pine needles as well in order to get a great blaze.
Okay, so maybe "medicine" is an overstatement, but it is great for minor first aid purposes.
Pine pitch can be mixed with beeswax to make a throat lozenge. You can also chew it direct from the tree, but you'll need to make sure it has had a chance to form into bulbs.
You can also use pine tar in much the same way you can Crazy Glue on minor cuts. It will seal off the wound from exposure with will serve as a replacement if you are lacking first said supplies.
Pine branches tend to be easy to break and often does so with a jagged edge. Sharpening it with a stone or knife can make a lethal point.
Pine sticks can be turned into three-pronged fishing spears, two-pronged frog gigs or simple single pointed spears. Whatever your choice of weapon, the versatile pine tree will meet the need.
Of course, everyone that is lost in the wilderness needs a good night's rest. While that is easier said than done, the ever present pine tree can help with that.
Pine boughs can be used for shelter or bedding. Either way, they can keep the wet off from both bottom and top. Depending on the species of pine tree in your area, you may be able to snuggle up underneath low-hanging branches and strew some boughs around on top of the already dropped needles.
If you do this, be sure to clear an area for fire building. If you aren't sure why, see the second reason on this list.
True, there are many places in the world that are not home to pine trees in one form or another, but there are numerous places that possess these all-around useful trees. Don't overlook what Mother Nature provides when trying to stay alive.