On Sunday, I had the esteemed pleasure of being accompanied on a hike in the forest by a native Indian living and working in Finland, far from his ancestral home. We went to Nuuksio National Park, the same park recently visited by the Woodsbabe and I. This time around, the weather was colder, -10*C/14*F, but much sunnier. It was determined that a short hike would be a good way to help my friend become accustomed to outdoor activities in the winter, so we did the 2 km/1.2 mi Nahkiaispolku loop trail.
Here’s where a bull moose (I believe) rubbed its antlers to shed the velvet from them after they stopped growing:
Tweety bird tracks (There were fox tracks nearby as well, but I forgot to photograph them):
Horse hoof fungi growing on a dead birch tree:
After our short hike, we were both ready to eat, so we started our fire prep. Here’s my native Indian friend splitting some wood. Did I mention he’s a native of Delhi, India? Perhaps you were thinking Cree or Cherokee? ;) He was a great hiking companion and very keen to learn about Finnish nature and “grilling traditions”. Hopefully he’ll join me again sometime soon.
Our main tinder for the fire would be birch bark.
The other tinder component was birch wood shavings:
You’ll probably recognize this cooking shelter from my last outing. In addition to my friend and I, a father and daughter team showed up after a while and grilled some sausages as well. More about them and their knife mishap later…
My personal favorite way to build a fire is first to lay down the tinder:
Then I like to place a piece of fuel wood on either side of the tinder and then lay on two or three layers of kindling in a grid-like pattern:
Then I light it up:
And finally put on some fuel wood, also in a grid-like pattern. Seems to work every time.
After enjoying the warmth of the fire for a while and letting the birch wood burn down to coals, we threw on some chicken sausages and toasted buns for them as well. I made some white tea after lunch, which is my favorite outdoor drink in the winter. Well, campfire coffee isn’t bad, either.
The father-daughter team which showed up while we were grilling and eating also had the same thing in mind. I watched as the father split some knotty pieces of birch by batoning them with some sort of Mora knife knock-off with a light-blue plastic handle and then…SNAP! A section of the handle broke off and the blade fell out. That’s when I offered him the use of my axe instead, which he readily accepted. Later on, my friend mentioned something about having the right tools for the job. Indeed. I have nothing against batoning wood with a knife to split it, but it’s got to be a good solid knife that can stand up to that kind of use, like the BushProwler knife I’m using above to make the wood shavings.
We said adios to the tool-breakers after finishing our food and drinks and chatting for a while and then headed back to the parking area. Altogether, we covered about 3 km/1.8 mi. As always, I’m already thinking about the next trip out, which will probably be an overnighter or weekend trip soon, so stay tuned!