Build A Fire
One of my family’s favorite activities is snowshoeing and along with that comes building a fire in the snow. I will warn you this is less about the hows of building a fire and more about the whys. I’ve included a link at the bottom on fire craft techniques. Here are ten reasons why you should plan this for your next snowshoe trip:
- It’s fun and challenging, kids especially like it.
- It’s low impact on the environment; with snow on the ground you can avoid tramping fragile vegetation to gather fuel and spreading a forest fire. Rather than rangers giving you a stare or warning you might get in the summer, I’ve had them come by to chat and warm up.
- It’s a great way to learn the principles of fire craft. Survival and fire craft are a declining skill in today’s gas fire place culture. The snow makes it hard to take short cuts on key principles like a platform, brace, and breaking down wood into smaller pieces.
- Fire on a cold day will warm you up and is a good lunch time activity. I’ve found that if we build a fire at lunch time we can also lengthen our trip distance and time out.
- It teaches teamwork. In our family everyone helps out from gathering firewood, to breaking it down; to starting the fire with a magnesium stick.
- You can use it as an opportunity to talk about outdoor fire safety.
- It’s easy to put out, just dump small batches of snow till it’s completely out.
- If you don’t get a fire started, you’ll probably warm up trying.
- When the days are short it’s a good source of light if you’re winter camping or staying out late. I call it Survival TV.
- Having a warm cup of hot cocoa or tea helps lift the spirits and with a fire you don’t need a thermos. Make sure you bring a small pot (that you don’t mind getting charred) to boil water in.
Plan to take about 20-30 minutes from start to getting flames to about waste high. For techniques and hints on igniting an outdoor fire in the snow check out Fire craft in Snow.