Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bushcraft weekend Gyllbergen

Now this post will contain a number (probably most) of pictures and links that are not mine. I will give credit to the owners and people concerned. And I have to warn you beforehand; it contains many pictures, some even have me in them.... 😆
The fun thing is that this way I not only can harass you all with repeated exposure to my ugly mug, but it also shows the event through the eyes of the others, creating a more colourful and diverse picture.

It had been a long time since I last slept out and the last time actually was the bushcraft meet in 2016.
So this local bushcraft meet was an excellent occasion to get my butt out into the woods again!
The weather forecast was changing constantly, but the dominating presence of rain and not knowing the terrain, prompted me to load up the big tent, after consulting Olli. In hindsight the tent was not needed, thankfully.
However I came very close to not attending. My stomach really started acting the previous night, but it settled down in time. A wrong combination of food, probably combined with a touch of nerves, I think. Regular readers know that I tend to get a bit anxious when being confronted with the prospect of meeting new people or participating in larger groups. Turned out that the group wasn't that large after all and it felt as if I met with a group of friends, not strangers. Says enough, doesn't it?

I wanted to test some things too over the weekend. Things like my upgraded LK35 backpack, my puptent/mosquito net arrangement and the army wool blankets I have. The expert will recognise a standard LK35.... heavily overloaded. It contained everything I needed including the food. Bedroll with tenthalf, mosquitonet and blankets over the top, poncho and bungies before that, small pouch with first aid kit and foldable 5l. watercontainer and sleepingmat under. Inside as said food, swedish army messkit, moccasins, fleece vest and small stuff.

It performed very well, given the load of 18kg, but one half of the waistbelt came off almost instantly, when unloading the car. A test report will follow in due time.

My home for the weekend.
I opted for this one, because of the forecast rain and because I actually never slept in one of these before.
It is actually part of a small viking-style village under construction/restoration and the entire premises is private property.

This weekend was organised by Olli NiemelĂ€ from Swetrek, but it was an all private undertaking.
The friday workshops were fire given by Olli and fly fishing by Joakim Karlsson, who also is a member of said team.
I went for the first one and in this little group there were a number of absolute beginners, which to me is a good thing. This way everyone gets to go over all the basics again and their enthusiasm was contagious. There was plenty of room for exchanging of experiences and knowledge, so it was fun to participate.
Photo by Per Moren
That's Lisa to the right and
Roger, the knifeman to the left
Afterwards we had dinner and I was able to share some of my outdoor household tips; how to do dishes bushcraft-style with nothing but a birch branch and some water. Crunch or smash the tip of a fresh branch as thick as your thumb for a brush, use the leaves of said branch for soap but crushing and boiling them, which releases food remains and fat even before you start brushing and use the ashes to remove soot by dipping the brush into the water, then the ash and then gently scrub. Voila, pots & pans clean and no chemical waste left out there. It also removes the need to bring that stuff in the first place. Not much of a contribution, but one subject that is often overlooked and/or dismissed, since many deem it a burden.
Later in the evening there was live music by Lisa Brolander, singing songs by Dan Andersson, a favorite of Olli, and some of her own work. Her unique voice, accompanied by her guitar playing, combined with the melancholy in Andersson's songs and lyrics, the darkening skies and forest around us, the looming clouds promising rain, the campfire.... All this created an atmosphere that was hard to describe. Everyone, perhaps even everything fell silent and listened and I dare say that she touched our souls. At least mine. An experience I shall not lightly forget.
Then another participant, called Boel, spontaneously joined in, and these 2 women had voices that matched and complemented each other perfectly. As they sang it sounded as if they had been doing that together for a long time, despite just meeting one another. Amazing, really.

Lisa Brolander kular

photo by Boel Engkvist

photo by Boel Engkvist
Saturday started grey and wet.  Not the best of conditions for the first workshop; the bowdrill!
The guy showing and teaching us, Robert Eriksson from Mountain Guide Travel took some materials with him, so these were dry and he managed to get a fire going in 2 attempts and under 10 minutes. But the effort involved was quite obvious!
He told us what locally available materials to use, which was very welcome to me and then we could have a go to. I knew I would not be able to pull it off, but I had a go anyway. And indeed...... After a few starting troubles I got the thing smoking and there was charred powder, but before an ember emerged, my shoulder seized up and I had to put the bow down, knowing that pushing it would make me regret it for days after. Slightly disappointed and frustrated I sat there on my knees, looking at the small pile of charred wood. And then I had a lightbulb-moment; would a firesteel work?? I loaned one and with 3 strikes I got a glow. Some gentle fanning and blowing indeed resulted in a small ball of fire!!

Observe the simplistic expression of joy and
wonder on this specimen's face

photo by Boel Engkvist

Photo by Lee Fraser

After lunch we were heading out, aiming for the highest point in the area, the top of the Gyllbergen. Not impressively high at 497m, but the highest in the area. The terrain on the other hand did prove to be a tad challenging, especially given the wet conditions. Rain had come in by now and much of the track was bare rock, barely covered rock or wet wooden beams with a hint of algae. In the beginning I boosted that my old army boots gave me a firm footing, but before the end of the trip my cockyness had come crashing down, putting me firmly back on the ground again. I slipped. The first 2 times no harm was done and I thought the second one actually was a quite spectacular save, but three times is a charm and my third time was not at all charming. No saving there! But other than a bruised ego and some wet cloth, no harm was done.
The hill itself, with its boulders, bare rock and stunted vegetation was quite gloomy in the greyness of the low hanging clouds. Finding an sacrificial stone, a large square block, deliberately leveled out, did little to lighten the atmosphere.

photo by Lee Fraser
Back at camp we prepared for the next workshop; a beginner's theory on wolf tracking, combined with making camp coffee. Which was a good combo, since we were kind of in the mood for coffee.
Olli explained and showed the basics of tracking wolf, but unfortunately it was all theory. The coffee making was much more practical and not much later we were enjoying a hot cup o' joe.
Another workshop on fly fishing, especially the Japanese version tenkara, followed suit. Joakim was explaining the basics and tenkara is all about basics apparently, but I absolutely have no fishermen's heart, so I did not attend. However I did catch the part, where the fishing rod Ă­nvolved was shown and I could not help being impressed, when out of a tube that would easily fit into a backpack a rod emerged, several meters long, complete with string and lure.
By now the grey clouds started to get thinner and not much later small patches of blue started to appear, growing in size still. Then the sun entered the stage and the change of the area and atmosphere could not have been more dramatic and total. Gone was the all dominating greyness and the vegetation positively blazed with greens. Greens so bright it looked as if the were luminous, leaves and branches decorated with drops that glittered and shone. The surface of the pond next to camp became still and turned into one big mirror, amplifying the invigorating brightness. The mood, which was never bad to begin with, noticeably lifted even more....

photo by Tobias Karlsson
Later we were treated by a guy, who came to bake so-called "kolbullar", a kind of thick pancake with plenty of bacon, to be eaten with lingonsylt (lingonberry or cowberry marmelad), baked in cast iron over an open fire. I must admit I can not recall having had better ones than these! They were really good and a suitable dinner for the occasion. Chef de cuisine was Johan Hyson.
In the meantime we had a workshop on restoring old knives, given by Roger Olsson, who was also attending. Now there was a man with a passion for knife restoration! He rekindled my desire to finish my knife project that has been dormant (sounds better then shelved and forgotten) for 5 years now and I will see to it that it gets done after summer. He gave me a handful of very useful tips and suggestions and he also showed us a good deal of tips and tricks on knife sharpening, both practical and economical!

Several fish were caught during the evening, cleaned up and cooked and we all got a taste of that. Again, not being a fish lover, I thought it tasted good and was impressed by flavour and simplicity.
During the evening I talked to Tobias, board member of both the Swedish bushcraft förening and bushcraft festival and it is due to him that I decided to attend the latter and probably rejoin the first. Actually the festival is already booked and the ticket sits on my planning board as I write this....
This night we were treated to a very different kind of musical entertainment. One of a much lighter character and we had a few good laughs listening to the guy, called Mika Olavi, performing, singing, playing his guitar or accordion. We had a good chat regarding atheism and related views on the world and life afterwards.

Photo by Johan Hansson
This is Tobias and me and you might notice the coffee grinder in the picture.
Now there's a little story to that one. During our conversation we talked about several small pleasures of camplife, one being pipe smoking and another coffee. Turned out he had the same preferences of the old ways and he showed me 2 coffee grinders he had just bought. Like me he seems unable to pass by a secondhand store without stopping. Now this particular grinder is exactly the type I like and matches the colours of our kitchen. And being the gentle man that he is, he let this one pass over to me!
You can see him using the other one, grinding coffee which afterwards would please our tastebuds..... He also explained how to prepare and use a pipe and gave some tips on tobacco. I have on several occasions thought about getting one myself, but have convinced myself that it would be pretty stupid to start smoking again after being "clean" for almost 15 years.

But still.....
The evening went on well into the night and even into the morning for some, but now we're so close to midsummer it is not getting really dark anymore. Lee captured that wonderfully I think.

photo by Lee Fraser
During the weekend that social lubricant, known as alcohol, was applied liberally and sunday morning showed the carnage. I was up first, ready for breakfast by 08:45 and the scene around the campfire did remind me of one after a Roman orgy. Cans and bottles and junk everywhere!!! So after blowing the fire back to life and while the water for the coffee was being heated I started cleaning up. It didn't take too much time and by the time coffee was ready the site looked acceptable once again. Good thing too, since the owner of the site showed up not much later and I would have hated him seeing the mess. I must admit that during cleaning I got the feeling that some parts of me integrating into Swedish society have worked out...... given the amount of empty beer cans under the bench where I had resided for much of the previous evening...... 😏
But it has to be said that there was no negative behaviour at all, both during or after and I have seen differently!

This weekend I did test and learned a few things for myself as well.
The major one being my bedding setup. I can now lay to rest the romanticized and nostalgic ideas of using blankets. I used 2 wool army blankets....... and froze!! Even though temperatures remained around 10C. I have to say that conditions included high humidity, due to the rain and the spot I slept was quite drafty with gaps in the floor, around the small windows and all around the edges of the roof. It was dry, but that was about it. Even the gaps in the floor were big enough to let in daylight!
I was lying on a fieldbed with a sleeping mat on top, but the cold just came up and went through. That was the biggest issue. I also learned the hard way that I do need some form of pillow for a good night's rest. I ended up using a fleece vest and my moccasins stacked on top of one another as a headrest, but those quickly compressed into a hard lump. Lugging around a field bed or slumping on a rocky floor crisscrossed with roots no longer appeals either, so I have been taking a closer look at Lee's hammock & tarp setup. Those look more and more appealing.....

Was the entire weekend one of only ups? Unfortunately no.
I did suffer a loss as well. My trusted and loved moose mug has rendered itself useless. A crack in the bottom now has extended all the way out, so the coffee leaks through. It will go on the wall or shelf of memories as a living testimony.

A wholehearted "Tack sÄ hemskt mycket" to all participants for creating and making this event into what is was!!!

1 comment:

  1. HÀrligt att lÀsa Ron! Vi hade verkligen en hÀrlig helg! Ser fram emot bushcrafttrÀffen i augusti!