Happy Wednesday, everybody!
In last week’s post, I’d hoped to get a few five-gallon bucket build ideas, but we’ve only had a couple submissions…so I’m going to stretch that out another week in the hopes we might get a couple more. On top of that, I’ve been bedridden sick with a nasty stomach virus, so I haven’t had time to get mine together. So another week it is!
However, last Thursday (before I got sick), I’d taken time off from work to spend with the family. But Mrs. Warrior and the baby had plans with friends, and my 13-year-old stepson was off to school, so out of nowhere, I was blindsided with one of the most wonderful things to happen to a guy with a family, newborn, mortgage, and a 50-hour a week job: I had nothing to do.
Giddy with excitement, I grabbed a couple fresh provisions from the fridge, tossed ’em in the BOB, found my 5-round AR mags and topped them off with 55-grain softpoint handloads (coyote season is year-round in Maine, and you never know when a pesky porcupine might waddle its way in front of you), pulled the rifle out of the safe, and put the works in the truck with my snowshoes. The Tacoma must have known we were going out in the woods, as it fired up with as much voracity as its tired V6 could muster, and it carried me merrily up the road to my favorite hiking/hunting spot. We plowed down a neglected dirt road, and I parked it on a turnoff. I practically leaped out and jumped for joy. Did I mention I don’t get to do this very much anymore?
With the L.L. Bean snowshoes buckled on, the BOB snugged across my shoulders, and the rifle in hand, I took a deep breath of the clear winter Maine air and trundled up the side of the mountain. It was a gorgeous, clear-as-glass day, though a brisk 9 degrees. (my wife thought I was a lunatic, not gonna lie.)
I made note of deer trails, watched out for predator tracks, and just generally enjoyed the quiet, me, myself, and I. I could see no trace of humans that had been up there since the snow had come, and that’s just the way I like it. I clomped around for a mile or so to get my heart rate up and clear out the ratty factory air from my lungs, then found a lovely spot in a depression between a pair of rock walls to plunk down and make breakfast.
I dropped the BOB and pulled off the snowshoes, and set to work clearing out any small dead limbs or trees that could cause secondary fires, then looked around for dead drop trees for nice, dry, snappy limbs for my fire. Luckily, there were many, and in no time, I had a nice little pile of dry firewood.
I opened up the BOB and got out my little alcohol stove, and set it to work melting up some snow for my coffee:
Went out one more time for some kindling, and found this perfect white birch tree (these babies are lifesavers when you’re out in the woods!)
Back at “camp”, I broke up some small twigs into fire starters, and tore up some birch bark for the ignition source to catch.
I set the works up on a nice big sturdy sheet of birch bark, and with two heavy strokes of the FireSteel Armageddon Gobspark I had a cheery blaze up and running.
I kept the branches small, to keep the fire from growing too large, and in about an hour it had melted down to the ground through the snow, making the perfect fire pit. I was able to open up the mess kit, and get cookin’. Maple bacon and scrambled eggs were on the menu this morning.
After a few bouts of bacon flambe (anyone who’s cooked bacon over an open fire knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about) and some charcoal-and-bacon-grease flavored eggs, I enjoyed a couple cups of rugged coffee as I let the fire burn down, and I let myself unwind, relax, de-stress, and forget about the world for a while.
When the time came, I cleaned up all my gear and trash, used the snowshoes to scoop a giant pile of snow over the remnants of my buddy, the fire, re-packed my bag and made a mental checklist of what I needed to replenish, strapped on the snowshoes, and lazily wandered through the woods, back to my truck with a smile on my face. I needed that.
Folks, I know we sometimes talk about the world ending, but while it’s still here and beautiful, take some time to get out and enjoy it when you can. You’ll be glad you did.