American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Went out for Ten Minutes...

...stayed out for hours.

I went out to play in the snow with Jake and promptly slipped on the ice three times and went down hard each time. For some reason I fell on my right side every time (maybe because I'm left-handed?) and my right kneecap immediately turned black. It's going to feel so good tomorrow I'm sure.

I hobbled back to the garage, pulled out a few pieces from my winter car kit, and headed back into the yard to throw out a poncho shelter, build a small warming fire, and just hang out in the yard to enjoy the day.

It was in the low 20's but felt like the low teens with the wind chill and I was wearing a synthetic t-shirt, a wool vest, and an unlined Carhartt jacket--not exactly all-day cold weather gear. I had my Fallkniven F1 on my belt, a Swiss Army Soldier, firesteel, DMT sharpener, and some keys in my pocket, and a SwissTool on my belt.

I used a trick from Dave Canterbury and used bungee cords to hang the poncho. Normally I'd use some paracord and tie knots but I found a couple of trees just inches further apart than the width of the poncho so the bungees worked just fine and went up fast. I staked out the back grommets with two aluminum tent stakes and called it good.

The ice storm from a couple of weeks ago brought down lots and lots of branches and smaller trees so the kids and I started cleaning up the yard and turning that wood into firewood, kindling, and tinder. A piece of fatwood, the Swiss Army Knife, and a firesteel later we had a fire. That fire then burned for several hours as we fed it piece after piece of frozen and wet wood. Peeling the bark helped to minimize the smoking.

As we worked we got thirsty. I brought out a bottle of water but wanted to show the kids (again) how to make water by melting snow and ice. The trick? Add some water to the pan first. Otherwise you'll scorch your pan before the ice ever melts.

Once we had melted enough snow and ice to fill the pan of my Swedish Army Trangia we let it come up to a rolling boil for a few minutes before straining it through a handkerchief. This gets out the chunks, bark, charcoal, and ash that invariably get into the water when boiling over a live fire. The boiling kills all the nasties and makes the water safe to drink but all the minerals in the dirt/mud remain behind to give the water a lovely color and flavor. Laura and I drank from the pan once we'd strained out the crud. It sure doesn't taste like tap water but it doesn't taste bad either.

After several hours of laying on the ground in front of the fire my body had had enough from the earlier falls and it was time to head inside. I'll be a little stiff tomorrow but will work the kinks out while testing a new knife from Dan Koster called the Bush Master.

I can hardly wait...

Thanks for reading,



At 9:17 PM, Blogger Mungo said...

Ouch! Hope your knee isn't as bad as it sounds. Maybe staying outside with the cold was a good first-aid decision...

By the way, in case you decide you don't want that ol' F1 of yours... I could take it off your hands. If you'd like. Just a thought! Great photos.



At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel for you, the ice here is just as treacherous. Sometimes its like skating just to get out the door and to the car. Not a winter season passes when I don't take a couple of good spills. Its gonna get interesting when I am 80!

Glad to see you are teaching the next generation, keep up the good work AB.


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