Saturday, 11/21 from 9:30AM-4PM
On our expeditions fire is a necessity; it warms us and cooks our food. We’re often faced with extremely difficult firelighting challenges. These must be overcome for the success of the expedition. What participants of the this one-day workshop will take away are the skills and confidence that they can get a fire going anytime, under any weather conditions, with a single ignition source (ie. a match, lighter or ferro rod). A big part of achieving this is wood selection and procurement. This is a fancy way of saying choosing good wood, and processing it so it’s useful. Hence the marriage of the axe and fire. The axe is the tool that allows us to access and process wood for fire in bad weather.
We’ll start the day learning about axes, their history, what to look for when purchasing, and how to safely and powerfully use them to perform the four major axe tasks: felling, limbing, sectioning and splitting. We’ve developed a variety of safety parameters over the years, and we’ll pass these along so you won’t wonder if you’re doing it safely; you’ll know you are. (Note: Learning how to efficiently use a tool takes time and hand-eye coordination. Our goal is to get you where you’re safe, but only time and practice will make you efficient.) When following our parameters, you should be able to comfortably use an axe barefoot. To do so would be foolish, but so is relying on safety equipment to protect you instead of a well thought out plan and understanding the forces at work.
After gaining some field experience with these topics, we’ll move on to firelighting. We’ll cover the five stages of every fire, then practice the establishment stage numerous times using different materials. Then we’ll walk through the process of starting a bad-weather fire from start to finish, including finding dry wood, choosing a tree, felling it, sectioning, splitting, and shaving it into dry feather sticks. These topics are glossed over in almost every book on the subject, but as with most things, the difference is in the details.
If there is interest among the participants, we’ll demo and discuss primitive ignition strategies such as traditional flint and steel, bow drill and hand drill.
We’ll be squeezing a lot into a single day, and our goal is to make it informative and fun. Many of the people who participate in our short courses are working or aspiring instructors. We take this into account and include not only the skills, but tips on how to effectively teach them.
Course takes place at the Jack Mountain Folk School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Participants should bring an axe, knife, lunch and water bottle. We’ll have coffee and tea over the fire.