Learning how to make fire without using a match or a lighter is a very big part of wilderness self-reliance. The ability to create sparks on birch bark with a ferro-rod or a flint and steel smells and feels great, and will keep you well-heated long after your lighter has died and you’ve run out of matches.

Nevertheless, even these methods have a deadline, as ferro rods diminish perceptibly with each strike, and char cloth is not a renewable resource.

Those methods can carry you for a while, but in that time, you can practice and perfect a new method of friction fire that will keep you warm for the rest of your days.

In the boreal forest, getting an ember from rubbing two sticks together is possible, but usually requires the added friction supplied by a bow with some cordage.

Making and using a bowdrill kit is a beautiful synthesis of many outdoor and bushcraft skills.  It relies on knowledge of tree identification, the ability to shape wood with axe and knife and a degree of physical dexterity earned through practice.  Many outdsoorsfolk carry their kit with them, along with a dry and ready tinder bundle.  I even know a few who have achieved the ultimate level of this skill: they can forage all the ingredients from their campsite, and fashion a new kit and tinder from scratch, each and every time.

This season, we’re running a series of bushcraft skills workshops led by wild arts instructor Mary Elizabeth Konrad.  These all-women-only sessions are designed to help you learn to forage and fashion your own bowdrill kit, and practice the physical skills of friction fire to keep you warm for a lifetime. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018 – Self-identified women only

Saturday, February 24, 2018 – All Welcome!

Learn more at canoecampingtrips.ca/bushcraft-skills/.

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