Today in the News: bmatt returns! I know that I always refer to his posts as "awesome" and such, but this one truly is next-level. There's a little bit of everything in this one. Needless to say, I haven't been out much lately. This one made me jones for a day hike. bmatt, you rock!
Early spring outings in Finland, Part 1
Back in mid-April, spring started to make itself apparent here in Eastern Finland. I had a chance to get out two weekends in a row (by some miracle) and made good use of the newly arrived warmth and sunshine. In this first part, I’ll cover a day trip, and next time I’ll tell you about my overnighter of the following weekend. On both trips, I was able to learn about and do some things that I’d never tried before.
For the first trip, I brought my usual dayhike stuff, but put most of it into my backpack because I also needed room for some other stuff, like a knife to be tested, a sausage roaster which I received as a gift, a book and plenty of food, among other things.
Although there was no snow on most of the back roads, the road I needed to go down still had wet snow almost up to my knees in some places and less snow in others. Even though I wore my high rubber boots, my pants, socks and feet still got wet.
I saw some scat while hiking. I don’t remember seeing this ever. Can anyone identify it?
The streams were flowing.
I saw some tinder lichen along the way.
My kota/lavvu was still standing and usable. I will fix it and make some adjustments soon.
I prepped some wood, lit a cigar and dried my feet, socks and boots.
Once I was dry, I cooked up a sausage using a sausage roaster given to me by my wife’s grandfather. I also made some tea in my tiny pot and drank it from the fancy kuksa I bought used for 4 Euros. :)
At one point, I tested the Greek knife I recently modified. It did well at most camp tasks, but it was not very easy to use for chopping. The handle isn’t uncomfortable, just not easy to hold for chopping. I could not get a good grip to strike solid, deep blows. Of course, it’s not designed for chopping, so it’s not a fault of the knife. It’s still a great all-rounder.
After the knife testing, some hiking and other camp work, I cooked another sausage and kicked back with a book I bought years ago before I learned who Raymond Mears was. :)
The book inspired me to try my hand at birch bark crafts. I had wanted to fell a small birch anyway for firewood, project wood and for a future article about felling and limbing trees for The Sharpened Axe, so I found a suitable tree at the edge of a crowded location and chopped it down. Just like the buffalo to the Native Americans, no part of this tree will go to waste. ;)
I studied up on how to remove the bark and got to work. I didn’t do the best job, but it was my first time trying it and I learned a lot. I got enough usable bark to play around with and get a feel for how the bark folds, bends etc. For my first very basic project, I made a small match box. I cheated and used glue from the store, but I think it’s OK for my first project.
It was a well spent 8 hours in the forest. I got some exercise, enjoyed some camp food, tested some gear and tried something new. I even saw two big, beautiful moose on the road as I was leaving the forest, but couldn’t take a picture because I was driving. Next time, you’ll see a lot less snow, a simple shelter setup, some more spring bushcraft and more.