A week ago, I met up with Scandic Woodsman and OZme from Bush n’ Blade for a little woods time on Birgitan Polku (Birgitta’s Trail) near Tampere, Finland. It had been a few months since I took to the woods with either of the chaps, and with the weather getting colder, the time was right for some early-winter woods wandering.
After driving a short distance to SW’s house, he drove us northward for about 1.5 hours to the designated meeting point. From there, we followed OZme to the trail head, parked the cars and decided to shoot a few arrows and sling a few rocks before hitting the trail.
We took turns shooting SW’s Estonian-made Falco bow at a target he made, and tried our hand at OZme’s homemade slingshot. Here I am giving the bow a go. (The “fat belly” is my heavy old camera weighing down the front of my jacket…really!)
Next up was a short hike to a fire pit, where we would be warming up near the fire and cooking some grub. We chose to hike the shorter of two possible trails due to our arriving later than anticipated, the limited daylight of this time of year and our growling stomachs!
There was a light dusting of snow in the forest on the way.
We spotted a moose feeder-type thingamajig.
This stream wasn’t frozen over yet.
Upon our arrival at the site, I snapped a pic of what has to be the coolest outhouse I’ve ever seen.
This shelter was nearby as well. It’s kind of like two laavus facing one another and connected to one another. You could also see it as a small hut with a hole in the roof. Depends on your perspective, I guess. In any case, it looks like it’d be warm in the winter!
Since the nearby pond was frozen over, we had to break the ice to get water.
Here’s OZme checking out the scene with two of his three ladies who accompanied us that day.
I dropped my German army alpine rucksack on a bench near the fire area. Over the past 4 years or so I have alternated back and forth between this pack and the Swedish army rucksack. Just can’t make up my mind!
After OZme and SW brought some wood from the shed, SW and I started splitting it up. SW used his hukari (a large Finnish chopping knife), and I used my Wetterlings axe. Here’s SW getting the fire started with his ferro rod.
It didn’t take long until it was going full-blast!
OZme and SW lined up split logs outside the fire pit to act as a wind break, which worked well.
Our first course for the afternoon meal would be campfire pork ala Scandic Woodsman. I lent him my frying pan and gave him some olive oil, salt and pepper to get the job done. He had decided it was time for something a little finer than the old standby of sausages. After tasting the first round of juicy-on-the-inside, slightly-crispy-on-the-outside pork seasoned with just the right amount of salt and pepper, we agreed.
Next up was my secret-recipe bannock (camp bread). OK, the recipe is no secret. It’s bog-standard bannock. I use 4.7 dl/2 cups of flour, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of baking powder, “some butter” (several tablespoons) and enough water to make a dry dough. I mixed the ingredients, kneaded the dough a little and threw it in the pan. The secret to good bannock is to let it bake slowly. Make sure it’s not too close to the fire. Give it time to rise. Rushing it will just ruin it. The burn marks on the bannock in the picture below are not from the baking process, but rather from my attempt at the end to brown the exterior a little. Guess I left the pan on the coals one second too long!
By this time, it was totally dark out and felt pretty cold. The air temperature was 3*C/37.5*F, which isn’t cold at all, but the constant wind coming off the lake, coupled with the on-and-off drizzling rain made it feel chilly. We let our fire burn down to coals and then finally extinguished the dying embers.
A short hike later, we were back at our cars, ready to head home. This trip was a great chance to get out and shoot the breeze with the guys while enjoying some fresh air and early winter scenery as well. Thanks for the great company, Scandic Woodsman and OZme! (and thanks for letting me use some of your pictures, as well )