Monday, December 21, 2009
“An afternoon with Taiga Woods”
My good friend Bmatt from over at bushcraftusa forums has given me permission to post a short write up and a few photos of a recent day hike he took in the Finnish Taiga (northern forest).
I really enjoyed the story and photos ;it put me in mind of Montana but seeing the snow also reminded me that I’m more of a palm tree and sunny beach kind of guy.
I hope you enjoy this post as much as I do.
Tomahawk – Scouts out!
(The following write up and photos belong to my good friend Bmatt in Finland)
“An afternoon with Taiga Woods”
By that of course I mean the northern forest.
This past Saturday I visited my favorite campsite for a few hours to get away from it all. I started at 12 noon and hiked about 20 minutes, half on dirt roads and half through the forest. The temperature was -11*C (12*F) and there were a few inches of snow on the ground, but the sun was out and it was beautiful, as you can see in the first few pics. Can anyone identify the tracks?
When I got to my campsite, I gathered up some brush that I had been using as bedding material and threw it in a pile. Then I spread out my poncho, half over the pile and half on the snow. This allowed me to have a dry place to sit and put my gear.
Having only a few hours of daylight left, I got to work processing firewood. I went to the downed pine that I’ve been using for firewood this season and chopped off a 5.25”-diameter section with my Roselli axe. After this, I took the section back to my fire pit and sawed it in half (Fiskars saw not shown).
This was followed by splitting the sections up into usable firewood. I had used the Roselli axe to split wood before, but man was it a demon that day! The first section split clean in half after two hits. The other one (where 1/3 split off) took only one! This little axe continues to impress me. Splitting the wood down further was a breeze, once again taking one hit for each split 90% of the time.
I then made some thumb- and pencil-sized sticks for the fire, followed by a big pile of shavings. This chopping and splitting exercise was a good test for the axe, as the air temperature was well below freezing and the wood was frozen. I had not tested the axe in temperatures quite this cold before.
To start the fire, I decided to try out something I recently saw done by a few folks on the Internet. It involves getting a piece of birch bark and scraping up the outer layers to make it thin an papery and easy to catch a spark. A few scrapes of my firesteel lit the bark right up, and I quickly piled on my shavings and pencil-sized sticks, followed by the bigger stuff. Finally a chance to warm my feet.
Once I got the fire burning nice and hot, I filled my teakettle and put it next to the fire and started roasting a weenie (actually, this sausage is about the size of 2 or 3 hot dogs put together. )
I don’t remember exactly when it started to get dark (about 3 o’clock?), but the temperature dropped dramatically after sunset to -18*C/-1*F. When the cold started to creep through to my body and it was pretty dark out, I put on my headlamp, stamped out the rest of my fire, threw lots of snow on it and hiked back to the car.
Though short, this was a trip of several firsts for me: tested the Roselli axe at well below freezing temps, used birch bark and a firesteel to start a fire and had my coldest wilderness outing so far. All in all, it was a great relaxing afternoon.