I’ve been visiting the same campsite on my mother-in-law’s property since 2009, back when the Woodsboy was a mere “Woodsinfant”. Having decided that the boy is now old enough to safely visit that area with me, I brought him along on my latest visit last Sunday. But before I tell you about that, I’ll share some pictures from the area around the cabin, since we hung around there first.
As you can see, spring has solidly sprung (actually, it’s pretty much full-on summer here):
Rowan/European mountain ash:
Alder (not sure if it’s black or gray):
The Woodsbabe asked me to get the muurikka (Finnish wok) ready and start a fire in the fireplace so we could fry some pork chops, so I split some wood with my diminutive Wetterlings Mini Axe (not to be confused with their Small Axe). It’s a fantastic tool for chopping and splitting smaller-diameter wood and rough carving.
I also made some wood shavings with it to get the fire started:
The muurikka was put in place, and then the fire was started. The muurikka spends all of its time exposed to the elements, so it has to be prepped first by throwing some water on it when it’s hot, scraping it with a metal spatula, getting rid of the water and then wiping it down with olive oil. Here’s the boiling water cleaning the surface:
After it was fully cleaned, the Woodsbabe threw on the marinated chops:
We also grilled some sausages. This cooking area has been around for a long time and its days are numbered. You can see the beginnings of the new and improved cooking area in the background.
We ate a nice lunch with my in-laws and then, after letting our food settle, the Woodsboy and I got ourselves ready for our hike. His little backpack has a stool integrated into it. We picked it up at a consignment shop for 2 Euros.
Can you tell he’s excited to go?
I threw on my pack, and we headed out. The terrain proved a bit too rough for the little tyke, so I ended up carrying him most of the way. When we arrived, we had a little tree and plant identification quiz. He identified spruce:
Next, I introduced him to fireweed:
Then he spent some time checking out the campsite:
It had been promised to the Woodsboy that we’d roast sausages, so I started that process going. I set him up with a forked stick and two small sausages.
On that day, I was carrying my refurbished leuku/puukko knife duo and used it for the cutting and splitting tasks of the day.
Then I got the fire materials set up. It had to be a small fire due to the relative dryness and heat of the forest. Speaking of heat, I brought along my thermometer as usual, and although I don’t quite trust the reading of 111*F/44*C (in direct sun), it was without a doubt hot that afternoon.
We ate our sausages and then some small pastries and drank juice and water, which the boy doled out.
By this time, both the Woodsboy and I were getting sick of the heat, so I made him a shelter out of dead spruce branches and my poncho after very thoroughly soaking the fire pit and surrounding area with water. I realized then that I should have made the shelter right after we arrived so he could have a place to get out of the sun, although I did keep him in the shade of trees most of the time. Lesson learned.
Our trip lasted about 2 1/2 hours, and I was very proud of how the boy held up, especially considering the heat and the swarms of blackflies which pestered us the entire time (fortunately, they didn’t bother the Woodsboy as much as they did me.). By the way, we did bring a net hat along to keep the bugs at bay, but he didn’t want to wear it. After a while, he asked if we could go back to the cabin, so I packed up our stuff and we headed out. He enjoyed telling mommy, grandma and grandpa about what we did and is looking forward to going again soon. So am I. 🙂
On another note, a little while back I mentioned that we were hoping to be able to make use of an old house, farm and forest (belonging to the Woodsbabe’s extended family) in the country after our move. It turns out that the house, which is 120 years old, has been abandoned for 40 years and is in poor condition, isn’t quite up to snuff for use (earlier, we didn’t know what kind of condition it would be in). So unfortunately, we won’t be able to use the house, but we are still planning on reviving the garden plot and using the forest for camping, bushcraft, berry/mushroom picking etc. There’s also an easy access point to one of the large lakes of the Lakeland District about 150 yards/135 meters from one edge of the property, so we’ll be able to make use of that as well. My first trip exploring that property will probably take place over the next few weeks, and I’m really looking forward to it!