So it was, a Saturday. November 10th, to be exact and as I rolled out of bed, I readied myself for a regular meetup of BushcraftUSA Minnesota members at 9am at the local state park. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know the details of my trying to get something going with these members on a regular basis, to practice skills, complete some BushclassUSA Basic lessons and to get out and explore and have some fun.
I usual do not know what to expect when I arrive at the meeting point, though I always have high hopes of finding someone there. It has been getting better as of late. A new acquaintance, member "Sticker", has shown some real interest in making it a regular thing for himself and his wife, "Callmekris." I have also been surprised when "Steene" and his son, "CamperTater" show up, and this has been more often than I thought they would.
But on this last Saturday, no one showed. I busied myself for a little bit, getting my kit ready and then strolled over to talk to the park ranger, who had showed up to check on the group campsites and the outhouse facilities and such.
The ranger and I have spoken before and today I found out his name was Greg. Greg and I spoke about the park, some of the wildlife and my reasons for being there. I told him about the regular meet up of bushcraft enthusiasts and how we try to get together to practice skills. He remembered seeing me working on doing a friction fire one time and seemed very interested in the various activities. I told him about BushcraftUSA and its membership and how it was growing and how we had a growing number of Minnesota members as well.
Just as we were about to part company, a husband and wife drove into the parking lot and began to ready themselves for a hike. They wanted to know how to get down to the river trail. They had been there a long time previous and wanted to hike the trails. I offered to take them for a "tour." We parted company with the ranger and headed out.
As we hiked along, I showed them the lookout area, to view the valley below and the Minneopa Creek. We talked about the trees and how to identify them and what types there were high on the ridge as we hiked down to the valley. Soon the Red Oaks, Paper Birch, Eastern Red Cedar and Ash gave way to the Elm, Black Walnut, Cottonwood and Basswood of the valley floor, near the creek.
I shared with them my interest in bushcraft and my reasons for coming to the woods. I shared how the trees have many resources for bushcraft. I mentioned the use of the cottonwood tree to make friction fire with a bow drill set and how I liked to practice with friction fire methods.
It was then, that the woman shared something amazing. She said that she and her husband had been on a hike on the Sakatah Trail, out to the Eagle Lake bridge. As they were sitting around the picnic table near the bridge, she had found a hearth board and a spindle and a bow laying by a tree. She saw that it had been used to make a friction fire, as it had a burn in divot and notch. She said she was tempted to take it with her as it was a very interesting find and looked primitive and "artistic."
It was at that point that I revealed to her that the bow drill set that she had found was mine. That I had made it out of some willow found on site and that I had used it to make a friction fire. We were both amazed at the coincidence. What are the odds of two separate individuals finding such a connection, thru bushcraft.
We continued to hike closer to the river, when the husband and I noticed the smell of smoke. It was then, that I noticed a group of three young men, in their 30's, working around a campfire at trying to prepare some breakfast. The three of us decided to stop and say hello.
Then it got interesting.
Read more in part II.... Happy Exploring.