Stomping around the old stomping grounds

Those of you who started reading the blog last summer won’t have seen my old haunt unless you’ve read some of my older blog posts. The location in question is in a forest which has been in the Woodsbabe’s family for generations. I used to visit the place pretty frequently, but the distance from our new home means that my trips there are now few and far between. In fact, my visit last weekend was the first one since we moved last summer. I always considered myself really lucky to be able to spend time there, and last weekend’s trip only confirmed this.

The Woodsbabe and Woodsboy dropped me off as close to the place as we could drive without getting stuck in the snow (which we managed to do anyway :)).

Tracks within tracks:

Looks like a slow-moving bunny:

Moose track:

He/she stopped to nibble on some fresh shoots:

Looks like a fox was here:

Red squirrel:

I was able to hike part of the way without snowshoes, but they were necessary for most of the trek, as the snow in most places was too deep to hike in effectively. So I strapped them on and carried on.

Nearby summer cabin:

Usnea/old man’s beard lichen:

Jackrabbit or kangaroo? You be the judge…

High-traffic area:

I believe a moose bent and broke this sapling to nibble on the tips of the branches:

After about an hour of snowshoeing and picture taking, “my precious” came into view. πŸ˜‰ The cooking rig OZme and I put together in 2011 is still going strong, but is currently in hibernation.

Besides being handy for hanging pots over a fire, it also serves as a place to throw your pack. πŸ™‚

The temperature that afternoon was hovering around -8*C/17.5*F or so, which I find to be pretty pleasant for winter activities.

Between the dry winter air and snowshoe hike, I was beginning to get mighty thirsty. I checked my “canteen”, aka thermos, and saw that my water was still room temperature despite being left in the car overnight at -15*C/5*F.

For a change, I thought I’d make some pine-needle tea. Although spruce-needle tea has been something I’ve enjoyed for years, somehow I’ve managed to go all this time without trying pine-needle tea (I think?), so it was high time! Both are full of vitamin C and have a very fresh “foresty” taste. πŸ˜‰ I located my firewood stash under the snow and knocked a few pieces loose with my axe.

They were then split up in preparation for building a fire. The wood prep heated me up too much, so I had to swap the fur hat for a beanie.

While I was splitting the wood, I found three of these little guys. They would be great as ice-fishing bait.

Instead of building a fire right away to boil the water for my tea, I decided to do it a little differently this time. I plopped down one of the pieces of spruce I had split to act as a “mini bar” for making the pine-needle tea with the alcohol stove made for me by OZme.

I chopped up the pine needles:

Added some fuel to the stove:

And lit it up with a match (if you’re not familiar with alcohol stoves, they don’t show much of a visible flame when lit):

Somehow I managed to use just the right amount of fuel, as it burned long and hot enough to bring my cupful of water to the boiling point in about 5 minutes and then dropped off and petered out. I added the hot water to my kuksa and let the needles steep.

Since I was feeling hungry by this time as well, I whipped out a “riisipiirakka” (rice pastry) with butter. The rice pastry is basically rice porridge (special rice cooked with milk and salt) placed in a thin rye half-shell and baked.

This was a nice snack, but it wasn’t quite enough to fill ma’ belly, so I split and shaved the spruce a bit more so I could build a fire to roast a sausage.

I found a nice forked branch on a sapling nearby, so I prepped it to hold my big, fat “HK sininen” sausage. πŸ˜‰

The wood I used for the fire turned out to be pretty wet (probably because I didn’t cover it last summer…oops), so I had to coax the fire for a while, but finally it ended up burning well. I roasted and ate most of the sausage and then left the rest for nature’s creatures (they really are quite big).

After checking the time and seeing that the Woodsbabe would soon be back at our designated spot to pick me up, I extinguished the fire, packed up my things and then closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. The silence of the place was something I had forgotten. Only the occasional chirping bird could be heard. Quite a contrast to the noise of the city! I snapped a final picture of the hazy sun before throwing on my pack and heading out.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do an overnight trip as I had planned a few weeks back, but in the end the 5 hours of “therapy” I got out there turned out being exactly what I needed!

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16 comments on “Stomping around the old stomping grounds

  1. Ron says:

    Yeah!!
    Snow… fresh air.. and snow ..tracks…. fire… hot food and beverages…and snow…. πŸ˜‰
    We don’t have much snow anymore. It’s all water and/or ice by now.
    Good to see you “breathing” again!

  2. OutdoorEnvy says:

    Great time out buddy. Trips down memory lane are always nice. Great report and pics. That place is beautiful with all snow. That meal looked good. Nice kuksa mug too.

  3. Wade says:

    Awesome pics. Thanks for taking us along.

  4. Martijn Top says:

    Beautiful and great therapy πŸ™‚

  5. OZme says:

    some times, All you need is just few hours of out time. it is amazing that actually can feel all the stress and hectic mind drains out.
    And thanks for sharing this story. by reading it, I got bit of that forest energy refreshing my mind.

  6. Duncan says:

    As always, excellent post with beautiful pics! It looks like beautiful countryside. I’ve never tried either tea mentioned but feel inspired to do so. Perhaps on my next outing.

  7. Very nice photographs. Everyone needs two things that you got that day- breathing room, and time well spent in the woods.

    Kangaroo by the way.

  8. linhartb says:

    Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing. It looks so quiet and peaceful.

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