Pretty busy last week and I'm just starting to get caught up in here now. What a slacker, I hear someone say in the background. :-) Oh how Time doth fly! So anywho, yesterday afternoon I finally made it back out into the bush again. The original mission was supposed to be to set-up a little temporary shelter/survival campsite out in the snow. However, the thick brushy area that I was in, as you can see in the photo, didn't quite allow enough sunlight penetration for good photo work. With time working against me and with the quickly fading light, I skipped a few parts of the mission.
For the above reasons, I kept it fairly simple and stuck to just gathering a few of the local fire starting materials nearby and went to work to see if I could get a little fire going, at least. I peeled a few little strips of well dried Birch bark from a dead stump and gathered a small hand-full of White Cedar bark that was hanging loose off the side of a towering ancient forest brother. Snapped off another small hand-full of toothpick sized dry branch tips from a stunted Maple and a long dead Poplar tree.
Wanting to repeat a test I did a few months back, I had brought along a 35mm film canister with my new "secret weapon" aka three real cotton balls in it, to be used as my only "society" tinder. Well, again, without a doubt, real Cotton balls are the best thing that I have ever used to catch a spark from any kind of flint type fire-stick. I have three different sparking rods and a Magnesium bar too, so I know they all work real swell with this most EXCELLENT, "society" fire-starter material! DO NOT leave home without a ball or two of this life-saving stuff in your pockets or bag with your other fire gear!
I laid a few little pieces of green Cedar branches on the compacted snow and then a little layer of skinny, bone dry branch tips, criss-crossed to make a little dry platform for the fire. I then ruffed up the Cedar bark in between my palms until it was all bushy and hairy and wispy-like and laid it on the platform, flattened out to about three inches across and a quarter inch deep. Next, the BBark was slit into fine strips with my razor sharp key-chain knife, seen here in this picture. Everything has to be kept fine and airy so I then rubbed the thin strips lightly between my fingers and it all got just right and fine the way I like it. Don't try to powder it though, fine fluffy strands is what you want here. The tiny branch tips from the Maple and dead Poplar were then placed, willy-nilly over the whole thing, yet leaving as much space as wood, over the tinder.
Finally, I slipped a carefully stretched, ruffled, and fluffed up, HALF of a genuine, as in real, Cotton ball, under the shredded Cedar layer, so that only a one inch square or so of cotton was sticking out. I touched the tip of my little chunk of worn hack-saw blade to the edge of the cotton sticking out of the bottom of the pile. Then, I carefully placed the end of the fire-stick under the edge of the hack-saw blade and pressed firmly against the stick, while drawing it up and towards me, in one smooth motion. Fifteen or twenty medium sized sparks flew from the rod into the tinder pile but 7 or 8 of them were enough to ignite the cotton right away. Within seconds, the Cedar and BBark flew into flame and the beautiful smell of home-made woodsmoke drifted past my nose. Man, I'm not sure what that is but I'll never tire of that wild smell as long as I live. :-)
So all in all, I didn't have time for the shelter part but at least, now you know what you need to ensure that you will be able to have fire out there using these simple little objects and methods. If you don't own a Fire-stick as I love to call them, Google them and track one down for your bush jacket pocket or your trekking pack or whatever! They can and will save your life and will last a LONG time after lighters have run out of fuel. Pop quiz... Your new bush fuel again is what? That's right, the one you learned about in here to-day. Cotton Balls Rule! :-)
So here's the results of yesterday's woodsy adventure mission and the gear used to create the fire...
Hope y'all Enjoy your Sunday out there to-day folks!