On Discovering Self

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

On Building Fire With Natural Tinders In Winter

   It had been more then a month, since I saw my friend Sticker. Not since the middle of December 2012, had we had some time to get out for some good ole "dirt time." But on this particular Saturday he showed up and I was glad to seem him. We both needed some good dirt time and a chance to play in the cold and snow.
   We decided to try for lighting the fire using good old flint and steel and natural tinder gathered on site. On our way out to the camp, we didn't even bother to try and harvest any good cedar bark or cottonwood bark or try to find any cattail or thistle or the like. We just kept hiking, until we got to where we wanted to be and than we started looking. It was really part of the experiment I guess. To use natural tinder, found on site, and use it to get fire going with flint and steel.
   But as we were looking, we really came up short. There were only dried grasses. Even the cottonwood inner bark we did find, was "frosty" and when thawed, felt moist to the touch. I even tried the dried grass with a firesteel and it would light, flame for only a short time and then go out. Nothing sustainable. We were up against the 4°F temps and the little bit of moisture that was frozen and locked up in the tinder we tried.
   After much exploring for good tinder and without much success, Sticker gave it a try a few times, until we succumb to using the firesteel and some jute twine and the grasses.
   Here is the video of our great outing and when it was all said and done, we really did have a good time. It was good to see my friend Sticker again and to share the adventure. We are determined to figure out this winter firecraft with flint and steel, as it is a fun puzzle to solve.

   After we got the fire going, the hot cocoa went down good and we replenished our depleted charred cloth reserves to be ready for the next time. It was a great learning experience. I hope you my friends get a chance to get out and enjoy the challenges of winter. Until next time, Happy Exploring.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Improvised A Buck Saw And Saw An Improvised Buck

   This past Saturday started out warm, with the temperature around 34°F, and there was even a warm breeze, so it felt good to get out. Although the forecast said it was going to be getting colder, it was not expected until the afternoon.
   The previous Saturday saw the temperature and wind chills around -8°F. Minnesota is so weird when it comes to weather. Go figure.
   I went to the local state park for a regular meetup of Minnesota BushcraftUSA members and after waiting a half hour or so, I headed out to enjoy some well deserved bush time. It felt so good to get out and to get away from it all. I was determined to try a few fun things.
   I wanted to complete the bucksaw portion of the Intermediate BushclassUSA lesson "Student Practice to Improvise A Bowsaw & Bucksaw". After reviewing the instructor Croatoan's fine video on making the bucksaw on my smart phone, I thought I had it figured out. But it wasn't until I got home, that I found out I also had to split wood with it as well, to complete that part of the lesson for the buck saw.
   Oh well, it was still fun and I will do it again, (and again and again and again).
   After getting the bucksaw improvised, and using it for awhile, I felt inspired to try a couple of projects.
   The first one was to make a flat surface for the cutting station at the camp. I really needed a more stable platform for batoning wood and using the Cold Steel Trail Hawk. That was an easy task with the newly improvised buck saw.
   The second project was inspired by a post on the BushcraftUSA forum site by member Bushtramp, entitled "Bushcrafty Christmas Prank." This was a very interesting project that he undertook to put several bushcrafted fake "deer" out in a field beside his fathers country property. It was very funny and I have dubbed the fake deer "Cervus Bushtrampus" in honor of this famous stunt.
   I decided to fieldcraft a fake deer, just like the ones in Bushtramp's herd.
   I have found that having a few pieces of kit that can be used to improvise tools with, has put a little more "craft" in my bushraft.
   So here is the video of this last Saturday's adventure. It is a little long, because it shows three projects involving a lot of field work, but I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to skip ahead.

   The day out and all the dirt time was a lot of fun. It was also nice to not deal with any firecraft or meal prep. As the day grew longer and it started to get colder. The wind chill by 3pm was approaching 0°F.
    I decided to call it a day and head home.
   But I will be returning to make even more "deer" and "woods chairs" and "mallots" and many other things. I hope you can get familiar with a few good improvised tools and put a little more "craft" into your bushcraft. Until next time, Happy Exploring.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tried A Bowdrill In The Snow

   Yes, sometimes, you just have to give it a try. You get this idea, it seems possible, everything is in place, it all seems just right. Then you go ahead with the plan and WALLA! it fails. Okay, so it was not really a failure. But it felt like it was.
   I've had many a bow drill fire attempt failure in my time and it always leaves me wondering why? For that reason, if I learned anything by it, it is not really a failure, just a different kind of succeeding.
   I will admit that this last Saturday, conditions were not at their best. In fact, the temperature was hovering around 8°F with a wind chill factor bringing it down to -10°F. Needless to say, this was working to quench any creative muse I might of had.
   I so wanted to make a nice video, work at using my new knife, maybe get an ember from the newly made bow drill set made from materials on site, or get a set of curls with the new blade and set them on fire with my gloved hands and my fire steel. But it seemed like everything was working against me.
  Just one day before, it was 37°F and it rained all day on Friday. So I figured that any wood that was exposed to such conditions, if laying even a little sideways, rather then standing straight up, would be a challenge to get to work as a bow drill spindle or hearth board.
  With all the time I have spent recently, practicing firecraft in my little woodlands, I have discovered that if conditions go from rainy to snowy and then to freezing and back again, any wood you find may feel dry in its frozen state, but will be moist or damp or wet once it begins to thaw.
   To attempt a bow drill fire in these conditions demands the driest wood you can find. Spindles made from the deepest parts of the stock and then means batoning to the heartwood of dead standing and thick trees.
   On this day, I did not take the time to find such materials. I will the next time. I am determined to get a bow drill fire going in the snow, but it will be a large challenge knowing the conditions.
   In the end, what made for a good adventure anyway, was the sudden appearance of my friend "Steene", a Minnesota member of BushcraftUSA. He showed up about an hour and a half after the usual meeting time and found me practicing at trying to light some shavings and curls with my firesteel, without taking my gloves off.
   We had time for a short trip and fire and a hot brew and in the end, after the wind chill had gotten the best of us, we called it a day and headed back.
   Here is the video of my Saturday adventure, half of it solo and the other half enjoying it with a good friend.

   I have to say, that after my friend Wade showed up, I started to find my creative muse and I did finally come away with another adventure and a good time. Thanks Wade. Until next time, Happy Exploring.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The New Year 2013 And An Improvised Woods Chair

   Well the new year is upon us and I am looking forward to many new adventures in Bushcraft. I had my first outing of the year on Saturday, January 5th, 2013. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining with the promise of warmer weather to come. It was about 10°F and the snow was crunchy under foot. It was difficult to move quietly and even hard sometimes to stand still and make no noise at all.
   Despite the noisy conditions, I did manage to catch a few deer on video and I found a lot of very fresh deer sign and was pleased with the chance at tracking the mega fauna.
   As the day turned out, it ended up being a solo trip after waiting the customary thirty minutes for some of the regular BushcraftUSA Minnesota members to show up for our 9AM Saturday Morning meet-up.
   I know my friend Sticker wanted to make it out, but had some urgent family obligations to attend to. I know he will be anxious soon to join me for another adventure, so maybe I will see him on the next Saturday outing.
   I decided it was time to work on a BushclassUSA elective and since I had been playing quite a bit with my new toy, the one inch scotch-eyed auger, I decided that the "Student Practice to Improvise A Woods Chair" would be my next lesson.
   I have not really focused on any BushclassUSA lessons as of late, because I have been enjoying so much the time I have spent with my new bushcraft friends and helping them to complete their bushclass lessons.
   But, I know I have to get started on things again, as the goal this year is to complete my Intermediate Bushclass Certification.
   So before I go any further with this years plans, here is the video of my first outing of the new year and within that, my completing my "Improvised Woods Chair." I hope you enjoy it.

   It was a great outing, even if it was just a little bushcraft improvising and some hot cocoa. I always enjoy my solo times and getting closer to nature. And yes, even in winter, it has its perks.
   Thanks for watching and look forward to your comments. Until next time, Happy Exploring.