Monday, March 24, 2014

Burning A Bowl

Okay, its not what you think. Unless you are into primitive technology, then maybe it is what you think... My friend Phil and I went backpacking in the Red River Gorge in January. We decided to burn a wooden bowl around the fire one night.

If you have never been winter backpacking you are missing out. No bugs, very few people, you can see much further through the woods and a fire is actually needed, not just a luxury. You will need the proper gear and knowledge to have a safe and enjoyable outing. Find a friend or a group that goes out in the winter to learn from. You will quickly learn what draws me into the woods every winter.

First order of business, fire. No Bic lighters were used in the making of this fire. Before all the primitive purists out there start trolling the blog, I know my K-bar is not a primitive tool, neither is the ferrous rod we are using, but I would never step into the woods without them, so just let it be. 

Reddit edit: I have learned you should not use the blade of your knife on a ferrous rod. If your knife has a 90 degree edge on the back, use that instead. If you have a K-bar like me, use a file and remove the coating to expose the metal first.

As I mentioned, we used a ferrous rod to start this fire. Let me tell you, it is not easy starting a fire with one. If you carry one of these and have never used it, try starting a fire with it the next time you are camping. Know your gear and its possible limitations. If you needed a fire immediately, because you slipped and fell in a stream, you would definitely not want your only source of fire to be a ferrous rod. 

Next order of business, bacon. When you have bacon, all of life's problems seem to melt away. 

I would like to bring your attention to, the backpacking hammock. No amount of padding or sleeping pads can equal the comfort of these light weight hammock systems. Once you try it you will never go back to a tent. 

My wonderful fiance Dara, bought me this Chainmate handsaw. It is made out of a chainsaw like blade. When I first looked at it I thought, well this is novel, but I bet it won't perform like my folding saw. Let me tell you this thing is amazing. I sawed through the downed log pictured on both sides in a matter of minutes. Sure my folding saw could have done it, but not as fast and easy as this piece of kit. Plus, it compacts down into a very small pouch.

On to the burning of the bowl. You will want a log about this big if you want to do a burn down the center. I have burned a bowl into the side of a log before, but the log needs to be very large and it is not typically movable, once you are done.

Start by carving out a small depression in the center. Place a coal in it and apply oxygen. If you have a tube of some sort this is much easier. We sacrificed one of Phil's cheap trekking poles to use as a blowing tube.

You will want some way of keeping the coals in the depression. A knife, or in this case, a Kukri works very well. Once you get the inside of the depression burning, you will no longer need to add embers, it will keep burning down and out as you add oxygen.

You have to be mindful of the sides burning out to far when you get close to the edge. Some clay or mud works well to stop the sides from burning while letting the burn continue down.

Keep burning it down until you get a vessel deep enough for your needs. Unfortunately for us, the sides of the log we used turned out to be very punky. Before we started burning it was very hard and seemed like a good piece of wood. Once the heat got to the outer part of the log it turned soft. Oh well, we still learned from our mistake. It is soothing having something to occupy your mind around the fire on a cold January night.

Unfortunately, since the punky wood made the bowl not usable, I didn't get a picture the next morning. Sorry. I will do this again, and make sure I get a finished product picture. 

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