Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous 2011- Part 3 of 3

After breakfast on Sunday, I went to a workshop by Andy Williams  on How to Build A Sling Fireplace.  I’d never seen anything like this.

Sling Fireplace

There is nothing about this thing on the web, or at least my search’s results.

The materials list includes fire place screening, two sections of tent poles, flexible galvanized air craft cable, key rings, a few aluminum cable swages, and P-Cord.  The unit rolls up and fits into a recycled Thermarest stuff sack.  It is suspended between two trees and the fire is build in the air, resulting in a massive charge of air that quickly feeds the fire through the screening, and has the distinct advantage of leaving the surface of the earth scar free, as well as burning all the fuel into powder.  The downside is that the materials cost about $40 due to the 18 feet of 1/8″ cable that runs about $1.29 / foot.

After this was demonstrated and discussed, I wandered out to the back porch where Don Kivelus was re-running his “Trail Stoves:  Their Selection and Use workshop.

Fire + Stove = Winter Comfort

Don told us that dry wood yields 7,500 btu \ lb., with that figure remaining the same no matter what type of wood is used. If you have dry pine available, you arr going to need a lot more of it than you would if you  were harvesting dry oak.  In this part of the US, the best you can expect from wood that is seasoned out doors is 15% moisture content. On the positive side,  pine dries quicker that hardwood.  Don advised us to never harvest dead wood that is lying on the ground, due to the relatively high moisture content that is present in the wood.  Look for dead vertical standing spruce. Beware of leaning softwood tress, as each degree of lean generally equals a degree of moisture contained in the wood. Here we learned about stove damper basics, and firebox management and such.    Don stressed the importance of choosing the right clothing to take with you into the winter bush, with wool still taking preference to synthetics.  The second most important thing that you must have with you in winter camping is good fire building skills.

This year I didn’t win any of the dozens of door prizes that were given away.  I also didn’t buy much , with the exception of two Opinal knives

Opinal knife

Opinels are French picnic knives that have been around for over 100 years.  They are easy to use, and are designed to be safe, employing a stainless steel locking collar that prevents the knife from accidentally opening or closing. Opinel knives were ranked as one of the “100 most beautiful products in the world”, by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  They are only $12, and come a three sizes.  They feel good in the hand and fit easily in a pants pocket.

Snow Walkers’ rendezvous is all about improving winter camping skills.  One of the past things I heard Don tell the group was that lessons get delivered in the midst of ice, snow and cold.  If you are not listening, you lose.  Each of us is a student who needs to pay attention. The goal is not only to survive, but to be comfortable in uncomfortable conditions. Once you get cold and on the road toward hypothermia,  you get cranky, frustrated, and become disturbed in your focus.  This is an area that I fervently avoid.

I hope that some of my readers will attend next year’s Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous, at the Hulbert Outdoor Center, at Lake Morey, VT on  November 9-11, 2012.  I plan to be there.

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