VIKING HIKING XI
WARMTH & ILLUMINATION Part Three
Kindling & Larger Firewood
Choose a barren level place, if possible, to build your fire. You probably do not want to dig a pit, lining the edge of the pit with blocks of the dug sod (which should be replaced) since you will probably not take along a shovel. Instead, line the perimete of the fire ara with rocks if possible. Kindling is smaller wood that can catch fire easily. Larger firewood must not be too large and should often be split into four or more sections with an axe. Depending on how long you have to keep the fire going, you might very well have to add wood to the fire.
The wood should be dry, which can make accumulating the kindling and firewood more difficult, but it is advised that you not bring larger pieces of wood with you on the trek. Find it in the immediate area around your camp if possible.
The Tipi is the most important layout for a fire. They burn steadily for a short amount of time.
Connor FitzGerald says: “Start by placing the tinder bundle into the fire pit. Build a cone over the tinder bundle by leaning small pieces of kindling against each other, making sure to leave gaps for air, and a door to light the tinder. Build a few more layers on the teepee with larger and larger kindling. Light the tinder!”
The lean-to, is most useful when you need cover to start a fire in the wind or rain.
FitzGerald notes, “Take a long piece of kindling and stick in into the ground at a 30-degree angle. Make sure the end in the ground points into the wind, and the end sticking up points in the direction that the wind is blowing. Place the tinder bundle underneath that stick, and build a very small teepee of kindling around it. Take the smallest pieces of kindling you have and start leaning them on either side of the piece stuck in the ground, building a tent shape with one side left open. Add a few layers to the lean-to with increasingly bigger pieces of kindling. Light the tinder inside the teepee to get your fire started.”
The lean-to campfire lay uses the same principles as the teepee to get started, but it also adds the protection of the outer tent. This means that you can use a lean-yo to start a fire in strong winds and even rain – the tent keeps the fire sheltered as it grows, and by the time the structure burns and collapses the fire will be big enough to survive the weather on its own.
For a campfire lay that provides all the warmth and comfort of a log cabin, look no further than the log cabin campfire lay. This is a lay that you can get started quickly and easily, and, depending on how you build it, can keep burning for hours with no extra work.
Fitzgerald writes of the “log cabin variation,” where a roof is made over the square, “Start with a small teepee built around a tinder bundle. Take your two biggest pieces of firewood and place them on either side of the teepee, parallel to each other. Take the next two biggest logs and stack them on top of and perpendicular to the first two. Anyone who has ever played with Lincoln Logs will start to see where this is going. Continue stacking logs on top of your cabin in sets of two, each set in the opposite direction of the one before it. As you start using smaller logs, [you can] start placing them closer together, until you’ve built a closed roof on top of your log cabin. Carefully reach in to the center and light the tinder, and soon you’ll have a slow-burning fire on your hands.”
Making a Fire in the Wet
Build your fire under some sort of shelter—either natural or a portable shelter or blanket of some sort Gather small pieces of wood—the more the better so that you do have to go out into the wet too often to accumulate wood. If the wood is not too wet, you can find flammable inner wood by using your axe to cut away the outside of dead wood and creating flammable shavings.
Make a platform—often just two or three steps that keep the shavings off the wet ground. Select small slicks that will dry quickly and build the firepit using the driest kindling and larger firewood that you can find, drying the wood by stacking the wood around the fire. This process may take a while but will become warmer and sustainable if you use patience.
Make certain that the fire is out before you leave the site. Using water or dirt, extinguish the fire, stir the ashes and pour on more. Only when you are certain the fire is totally out should you move on.