The campfire is part of what makes the whole camping experience memorable. It may not take long for the swimming, playing and traveling fade from our memory bank, but years after the campfire has turned cold the memories will linger on and on.
What makes the campfire so special? We all have our own ideas. There are so many great things about campfires and what we can do during the fire. Even starting the fire can be a mystery to some of us who have never had to start one.
Irma and I pulled into a beautiful BC Provincial Park campground one evening. We set up the trailer, cleaned and made the table ready for supper. Started the stove and, while Irma prepared the meal I got busy starting the campfire. I had purchased a box of firewood from the ranger upon entering the park. It was not very dry wood so I had to chop it up in fairly small pieces. I always carried a heavy axe to break the large pieces down to a size suitable for the smaller hatchet. I set up the fire starting with one piece of newspaper on the bottom. I built a small pyramid of thin kindling over the paper, a larger one over that one and finally a few of the larger pieces over that one. Placing one fire stick on top of the paper near the bottom I lit the fire and presto, we had a campfire burning nicely. You may use either fire sticks or paste. Both will burn like mad for getting the fire started. And it kept burning. After about 8 to 10 minutes the larger wood had begun to burn from the heat generated by the fire stick.
All this was accomplished easily as I had done it many times before. What I didn’t realize was that some others may not know how to do it. A young couple next door to us came over and introduced themselves. They were from London, England. They had been trying to start a fire for hours without success. We were happy to help them.
We lived on Vancouver Island for a few years. On our way to our favorite campground we had to pass by a saw mill. The owner had a huge box out by the road and kept it full of slab-wood, mostly cedar. We usually stopped by on our way and picked up a load for the campfire.
Other than the axe and hatchet, we also carried a saw. The best was a small Swedish bow saw with rip teeth. It’s called the Sven, folds away and really works. The saw was handy for cutting up long springy wood. Cedar is springy. Hit it with the axe and the axe may bounce right back at you.
We backpacked into places where there were no campgrounds and you had to find your wood in the woods. A lot of people look for fallen trees as their supply. One thing you can count on is that if the wood is on the ground, it will be wet or at best, damp. What you want is a standing dead tree. Because it’s dead, water no longer goes up to the branches via the root system. The tree just stands there, drying out a little more each day until it finally falls down. Cut it down before it falls and you will have great firewood.
There you have it. Dry wood. Proper tools. All the know how you need for that perfect campfire.