On Discovering Self

"Walk in Peace... Learn from Nature... Find Yourself...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Day Trip With My Bush Buddy

   It is always a pleasure to get out for a day trip and to explore with my bush buddy Christian. He always reminds of what it is like to be a kid. That makes for some really good bushcraft adventure. We really get in some good dirt time. He enjoys learning the things I can teach him and he teaches me things about being curious and observing and about getting dirty and wet and close to the things that really make it fascinating. He never gives me any excuses why he does not want to go. He always wants to be outdoors and on an expedition. He has told me flat out, he will never refuse an invitation to go "for a hike". I like that. He is faithful to his word. He is always good to go. He is my son and I love him.
   He challenges me to keep honing my skills, no matter what the subject might be some days. As he is learning more about bushcraft, he is challenging me in other ways. One example came up on this latest trip.
   We had sort of reached the end of our trail, following a stream bed and decided to stop, fire up my trangia alcohol stove and boil some water to make a couple cups of hot chocolate. As I was getting that going, he found a lost "Bic" lighter and wanted to see if he could use that resource to start a fire. I was sitting under a tree along the shore and asked him what kind it was. He said basswood and he was right. We then discovered a part of the tree was a deadfall, so he harvested some of the inner bark for tinder and challenged me to make a bow drill fire with some of what was left. I accepted the challenge. It was fun.
   Here is a video of our adventure that morning. It is a little long, but I think entertaining and especially if you like spending time with your kids. I hope you enjoy it.

   I am sorry that I did not get his success in getting a twig fire going with the tinder he had made up, but he did succeed in getting a fire going with the found lighter, all on his own. Just before the trip began, he was able to run a 7 point compass course that lead him to a water source and I thought he did quite well in that for a first timer.
   He is fast becoming a good bushkid and I look forward to many more trips and learning a few more things from him. Take the opportunity to get out with a kid and enjoy what "real" dirt time is all about.
Thanks for watching and Happy Exploring.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Finally A Meetup: BCUSA Minnesota Members

   I was quite excited on Labor Day Weekend, 2012 to finally meet up with some Minnesota members of BushcraftUSA. One of the members, "Steene" and myself have been playing email or personal message tag (PMing) on the BushcraftUSA forum site for some time, trying to arrange a meeting. But to no avail, we just could not make it happen. Then this Labor Day weekend came along and he said he could make it. I quickly contacted two other members, Gager and Little Jon and they agreed to meet us as well. We were on for what would be, at least for me, a first time "Meet Up" of Minnesota members.
   I let the guys know that I would be bringing what we would need to practice some skills and that I thought it would be great to work at friction fire and bow drill sets. I also brought some compasses to run a 7 point determinate compass course and if time allowed, we would hike out to find parts for a bow drill set to build from scratch and maybe work on some natural cordage skills.
   Well the friction fire practice was a lot of fun and here is a video of two of the guys and their very first attempts at getting a friction fire with a bow drill set.

   As you can see, both Steene and Gager were successful in their attempts and I must say it was well worth coaching them thru it, to see the smile on their faces. It was fun to be kids again.
   Next we went on to run a determinate compass course, which really was a set of 7 compass bearings they had to follow, each bearing they walked until they hit a barrier, such as a tree or a rock or landmark. The whole course did not take long and led them all to a source of water. It was a fun time, and if I had not been so involved walking thru it with them, I would have had more video. Maybe next time.
   Around noon, Little Jon and Gager had to leave, and Steene and his son and myself went on for a hike to gather for him some parts for a bow drill fire set. We settled on some boxelder and basswood and he tested it with a little burn in. He will be good to go for some practice. We also stopped long enough to harvest some wood nettle and make some cordage. Steene was very interested in that, as he is very adept at making nets. I am hoping to talk him into teaching how to make netting one of these next times we meet up. That will be fun.
   After we returned to the parking lot, we said our farewells and both agreed this will have to happen again. It was just to good of a time to let it happen but once. All in all, we made good friends and I know that this kind of adventure will continue and grow. Now I just need to get some more members to visit us here for our Saturday 9am meetups in the Minneopa State Park. Come and join us if you can. Every Saturday, 9am in the Group Camp parking lot to start.
   Happy Exploring my friends.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

So What Happened to August?

   Hello my friends and it is good to be back. The month of August was not without it's bushcrafting adventures. Quite to the contrary, I did in fact have a lot of adventures, but was very focused on enjoying the time with my best friend and bushcraft mentor... my Dad.
   For the entire month of August, every weekend and even for the first full week, I got to spend a ton of time with my father. He is still quick with a story, full of woodsman-like wisdom and still a boy scout at 81 years of age. It was absolutely the greatest to spend all that time with him. I really did want to write something up for the blog, but every moment just seemed so precious. So here I am finally to tell the tale.

Dad and I Visiting the Garrison, MN Walleye

   He told me stories of working his trap line as a kid going for mink and weasel and rabbit and about getting geared up to go fishing with his dad in the wee hours of the morning as his dad was getting off the night shift and about how he and his buddies use to just go out camping and spending time out in the woods, just for the fun of it. They were bushcrafting long before it would be called bushcraft. We recalled together a great number of boy scout camporees we had done together, and spoke of various canoe trips and hiking adventures.
   I even shared with him a number of videos of my most recent adventures in bushcraft. He was very eager to get back to Cheyenne and share them with his old boy scout buddies. They meet a few times a month to share and talk about scouting and he was sure that they would like to see what it was that I was doing. (blush)
   Now I really will have to work at making even better videos because I will have an even wider audience then I would imagine.
  Before he left to return home to his place in Wyoming, we worked to put together a good improvised "Flint and Steel" kit for him in an Altoids tin. We also put together a bow drill set, consisting of a basswood hearth board and spindle, paracord and a specially made bearing block handhold with built in bearing scrounged from a set of roller blades we got for $1.50 at a thrift store. I can only imagine what that might have looked like on the x-ray monitor at the airport when he checked in for the flight, with that in his carry-on.
   While we were spending time together, he tried getting an ember with the bow drill set. He came very close to succeeding. He had lots of smoke and lots of dust, but because he was still working on the mechanics of it all, just ran out of energy towards the end and could not get the final push of speed towards the end. But he is going to continue to practice and I know he will get it. He practiced several times and was getting down the body mechanics quite well the last time he practiced. Not bad for an 81 year old.
   He was also able to, on three occasions, to get a spark onto some charred cloth and then fold it into a tinder bundle of jute twine and bring it to flame. Awesome. He even made some charred cloth in his altoids tin from some denim cloth I provided him.
   We also worked on natural cordage and carvings and even a wooden spoon. We took a few short hikes and did some exploring and it was just good to feel the presence of my dad and to be a kid again.
    The best part was to be able to tell him how much I appreciated him teaching me all the bushcraft skills and things that he knew, as I was growing up. That I had become the woodsman that I am today because of him. That he had a legacy in me and that I was going to pass it on, and keep it alive by teaching my kids. I know he is proud of me.
   I am pretty proud of him. For one incredible month, I got to be a kid, a student, a mentor and most of all, a son. I had time with my dad. We had time to get aquainted again. We had time to do together, the things we both loved doing. We had time for bushcraft. I love you Dad!
   Happy Exploring my friends...