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 Niemelä 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
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|
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|
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|
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 ínvolved 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|
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
|photo by Lee Fraser|
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 så hemskt mycket" to all participants for creating and making this event into what is was!!!