Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A wintery bushcraft meeting

The weekend before last we had another bushcraft meet from the "local" branch of bushcraft Sverige. This time it was my turn to arrange things and I chose the charcoalkiln as a hostingsite. Given the time of the year weather might not be agreeable and there we'd have a roof over our head. Plus all the other advantages, such as a roomy firepit, a parking very close by and enoug woods to raom around in. I had chosen a subject for this meeting; warmth under difficult circumstances. I also was going to set them a challenge; the one match challenge. Make a fire with just your knife and one match. The weather cooperated nicely. The cold and frost had taken a step back. with temperatures hovering about freezing. Humidity was quite high and everything was icy, yet there was precipitation forecast.
At 10:00 I was on site, waiting for the others to show up. I did not need to wait long. I had given directions and marked the road with a bright pink air recognition panel. I got a fire going and hung a kettle with water over it to clean and boil it out.
By the time the kettle was clean, the first parfticipants started to come in, so time for coffee!!
Fortunately Olli had some more of his woodscoffee with him. He never lets one down.. ;) But I had a package myself too, so no shortages there! He also treated us to 2 cakes (you know Swedes and fika), but he also brought along some guests from work in order to introduce them to our way of outdoorlife.
More and more folks trickled in and by 11:00 we were complete

Photo by Boel Engkvist

Photo by Boel Engkvist
It was good to see a lot of familiar faces, but it was equally nice to meet new people. The group we have is steadily growing in size, which pleases me a great deal. That means somethig like this is needed and appreciated!
After the coffee and introductionround we set off to find material for the fires. And this is the main benefit of having a group. Not only can the chores be divided, you also have bundled knowledge and it always feels special, when you can teach someone your tricks and learn some new ones yourself in the proces.

Finding some fatwood or tjärved

Finding an entire stump of it!!

Dead, standing/leaning wood

Photo by Boel Engkvist

Picture by Salima Voloscuka
After this is was time for the task at hand; make your fire, using but your knife and one match. That means you have to have everything right, since you only got one chance. That means you have to focus on what you do and so, because you are focused, the proces gets stuck in your head, both failures and success. Preparing your fire is an essential skill, especially under these circumstances. Firewood is not readily available, getting it going is tough, but so is keeping it going! And your fingers get numb in this humid cold, so you have to watch out when handling your knife and that one match. It was great to see everyone so focussed, yet not all succeeded. Even the "old dogs" struggled and for me that meant a mission accomplished. Much was learned that afternoon and all involved realized the difficulty in it.

My wife paid us a short visit during this challenge, bringing along our oldest daughter and the dogs. And they too learned some lessons. For the dogs that meant dealing with a group of people and another dog! 
She tasted woodscoffee....
.....and they didn't want to go home....

After the challenge it was back to the firepit for some lunch, more coffee and more talk! Between bites, and there were many since not only did everyone bring their own food and Olli from Swetrek treating us to the earlier mentioned cakes, but Sali had brought a large pastery of dough and feta-cheese, whereas Boel treated us to some dark chocolate! 
We discussed all sorts of subjects, not just the one we tried. Marcus brought along some material to make charcloth like tins and cottonfabric. We tried flint & steel and as a bonus Olli showed us how to make a Swedish/Finnish torch. The discussion about its origins still rages on...!!

Photo by Boel Engkvist

Photo by Boel Engkvist

Photo by Boel Engkvist

Photo by Boel Engkvist
And then..... right at the end... we received an absolutely fitting encore! It started to snow. Big heavy flakes wafting down, immediately transforming the atrmosphere. All went silent and I am always amazed at the effect this has. It instantly creates a dreamy, almost failrytale-like atmosphere, yet with a chilling undertone....
Picture by Salima Voloscuka

Photo by Olli Niemelä
By 15:00 hours it was time to say goodbye. Some had a longer trip ahead of them and being on the road during snow, thaw on icy surfaces when dark settles in... It takes longer and a lot more effort.
I waited till everyone had gone, packed up my things, made a last round to make sure everything was as it shoukd be, stared into the fire a few more moments and then poured over the water from the jerrycans I had brought with me. A large column of vapour bellowed up through the trees and with that I thanked the spirits for granting us such a good time here.

A massive thank you to all that participated!
You made this day special!


  1. Thanks for word fatwood! I didn't know the English term, but now I know.

  2. Looks nice! Its in Borlänge somewhere?

    1. No, this one is roughly between Falun and Hofors.