Preparing for their journey to the sea for salt, the two men gathered weapons and tools. Kai-Tai, a good hunter, collected straight sticks from wild current bushes. He scraped the wood to the right thickness and lay them in the sun to dry. When they were dry, he gathered them into two piles; one of straight wood and the other pile of currant bush sticks that were crooked. These crooked arrows, Kai-Tai drew through a hole in a five-inch, flat slab of soap stone. The soap stone, he heated in the fire. When he dropped water on the crooked stick, the stone steamed. The fibers in the wood relaxed and became straight as they cooled and became like the others.
In their Deer-hide carry-all bags, each man carried other tools. A thick piece of Elk-horn, ground to a sharp edge, was the tool they would use to split wood for the fire when they made camp for the night. Over their shoulders each man carried a five-foot spear, its head of chipped obsidian.
Each man carried good stone knives made by splitting flakes of obsidian. This special task was one entrusted to a more skilled workman, it was a delicate task. For all his experience, the arrow head chipper had broken many elk horn tools as he carefully flaked away the obsidian.
For warmth at night, both men knew the skill of making fire. Wild currant bush sticks, twirled in both hands in a hole of Buckeye, produced friction. Patience and a handful of mouse nest or, on the trail, powdered pine dust was good tinder.
Fishing tools; basket fish traps, a scoop net and his harpoon with its detachable head of sharpened bone, along with tied hooks, also of bone, these were left behind for their return and fishing in the lake. At home, when meals were taken by the tribe, cooking aids were of no use on the trail. The old folks used a mortar and pestle to grind the food as an aid to digestion. But such tools were never needed for the two warriors with strong teeth and in their prime.
That morning, before they began their journey, Kai-Tai’s mother boiled Grebe eggs in a water-tight basket, heated with hot stones for the hard-boiled eggs they would take. Kai-Tai examined his arrows and sinew-backed bow. Brush rabbits, cottontails or Jackrabbits would give them protein on the march. Squirrels as well, were easy game. Mountain Quail, or in an emergency, grasshoppers could be counted on to supply a delicacy.
Each man carried a store of Tule potatoes; the succulent and nutritious roots of the Tule reed. The carried nuts and berries and jerky and dried fish. Little hunting would be necessary. Their good store of provisions guaranteed they could move quickly to the ocean without the need to hunt.
By the second day, Kai-Tai spotted a deer. Unable to resist the easy kill, he reached for his bow, backed with sinew for greater resilience and strength. The bowstring, woven wild flax, made use of skin as well. Kai-Tai had wrapped a part of the string to deaden the sound of the twang to keep the prey from being alarmed. All of Kai-Tai’s dozen arrows were short. They had been made from a light wood. Each of his arrows had been winged with three or four feathers, to send them true. The arrow heads were chipped black obsidian stone; a material that chipped easily and had an edge as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel.
Koo-Noo favored the spear. His weapon was about five feet long with a head like Kai-Tai’s arrows; obsidian. The shorter, more powerful Koo-Noo was proud of his ability to send his spear far and true. Both men carried slings, an exceptional weapon for hunting or in warfare. Against an enemy the Pomo sling could hurl a smooth stone with such force and precision it could fell the target, an animal or a man.
Had it been a man and if they had been forced to fight and defend themselves, they would have fought. Most times the passing into another tribe’s land was settled with a payment of tolls and bloodshed was unnecessary.
Next week: They warriors reach the sea.
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