Flint in the Post, Paleo Knife in the Box - My Flint & Steel is Complete!

Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert.

Recently I sent out an S.O.S. to the bushcraft world explaining that I was unable to replenish my supply of flint for my strike-a-light set.

Mark from Nehawka Primitive Skills responded and offered to send me some flint.

His blog profile states "I've been interested in primitive skills ever since I read Larry Dean Olsen's book, Outdoor Survival Skills, decades ago. The past 10 years, or so, I have been striving to learn the skills...flintkapping, hide working, friction fires, edible & medicinal plants, etc. Having gained some proficiency, I have been demonstrating and teaching at historical events and gatherings. It is a never ending journey."

I have Larry Dean Olsen's book and it is one of my most treasured skills and bushcraft books.

Every time I read it, I learn something new. I highly recommend it. Mark's site is brilliant. Check out one of his Flintknapping 101 series.

So just before this past weekend, a package arrived in the mail. And like I once wrote, ..."there's nothing quite like the feeling you get when a package arrives for you in the post box."

I very excitedly opened the package, and in it was a box.

And in the box were about a million pieces of flint (well, a whole bunch anyhow...) and an item wrapped in newspaper.

At first I just stared at the flint, figuring I had just hit paydirt. Who needs gold when you have a box of flint? But as I pulled the chunk of rolled up newspaper out, I realized there was something inside.

It was a paleo-knife. I'd not read Mark's note carefully on the inside flap of the box. It is amazing!

So, so far I have cut up some beef jerky withe paleo-knife. But the first thing I did was grab my steel striker, a small piece of charcloth and hit a spark off it with a new piece of flint.

It took 5 seconds and my charcloth turned into a hot ember.

I have much more to write about flint, and fire lighting with a strike-a-light in general - I intend to write about Keith's (Woodsrunner's) book Primitive Fire Lighting - Flint & Steel that I ordered some months ago and got in a package from Australia.

But first I need to thank Mark of Nehawka Primitive Skills for his thoughtful and wonderful gift. I am going to knapp a piece or two of the flint and see what I can make!



Planning My Next Camping Trip With Great Aplomb.

After years of working as a project manager, and now in a role as a manager of an I.T. department, I have finally taken the almost-final step towards a certification that I have wanted for a long while: preparing for my PMP certification. The PMBOK - the Project Management Book of Knowledge is a thick, obscure, abstruse, and mysterious tome. But I am attending 5 days this week of an intense preparation course to review this book in order to write and pass the exam.

Once I am PMP certified, I will be able to plan camping trips with great aplomb.

And once this week is up, I can return those few idle neurons that I have left to planning my next camping trip.



7 Days with Minimum Kit

I am planning to go on a canoeing and camping trip this summer. I might go with a friend of mine who really enjoys fishing. I am not great at fishing, and he doesn't have much kit, so I think this would be a good fit.

He would catch the fish. I'd cook 'em over the fire along with the bannock.

I want to bring minimal kit if possible, to make it both lightweight, but also a memorable trip where we could both learn bushcraft and minimalism lessons in the woods.
  • Flint and steel for fire, cooking
  • Cooking pot, 2 cups, 2 spoons, 2 Nalgene bottles and 2 bowls
  • Knives, axe, saw
  • Wool blankets
  • Tarp shelters
  • Compass
  • Fishing gear
  • Rope & 550 paracord
  • 2 Therm-a-Rests
  • 2 Sleeping Bags
  • Books (Rogers Mushrooms, and fiction)
  • Camera
  • 2 Legless Folding Chairs
  • Food
  • Booze
  • 2 cigars
  • Toiletries
I think that sounds basic enough. I didn't get into the varieties and quantities of booze - that would need further examination... :-)



Where Can I Find a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir™ Air Mattress?

Okay, so I'm all big on using wool blankets to camp with.

And using flint and steel to light my fires.

And using a hobo stove and a wooden pole for a fishing rod.

(Okay, fine, I also use a naptha stove, carbon fibre rods for my tent, and a silnylon tarp... but I'm making a point.)

But can't I be allowed a little modern treat now and then?

Where Can I Find a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir™ Air Mattress?

From the Therm-a-Rest site:
The NeoAir mattress represents the world’s most advanced engineering in ultralight comfort. Beyond being the lightest air mattress available, we’ve utilized two patent-pending internal technologies, making it up to three times warmer and far more stable than any other uninsulated air mattress available. And when it comes to space in your pack, you’ll appreciate that it’s no bigger than a one-liter water bottle. Revolutionary by design, the gossamer NeoAir mattress makes comfort one less thing you’ll need to compromise when traveling Fast & Light.

° Ultralight & Compact: Weighs just 14oz. and packs down to the size of a 1-liter water bottle.
° Unrivaled Warmth: Our patent-pending reflective barrier returns warmth to your body and reduces heat loss to the ground, keeping you three times warmer than any other uninsulated air mattress
° Sleep Stable: When inflated, patent-pending Triangular Core Matrix technology creates an internal truss system, resulting in the most stable non-self-inflating air mattresses.
° Lasting Performance: Achieving thermal efficiency without down or fiber insulation means the NeoAir can be inflated directly without the added weight of a pump, or worrying about exhaled moisture wetting insulation and decreasing performance.
I like the fact that it is super small when packed up and weighs hardly anything. My current Therm-a-Rest mattress - while small - is still a pain to pack on my back. I just wish they'd lose the obnoxious yellow/green/diseased colour. Give me a tan coloured one please.

They are sold in Canada at Mountain Equipment Co-op for $149.00.


A Long Weekend - Day 1

Today we had Spring's cousin and her husband over. They're on their way to emigrating from Turkey to Canada. We drank wine and talked and it was good. The squirrels watched from outside the window and ate the bird seed. So I went outside and sprayed the pole that holds the feeder up with WD40 Silicone Oil spray. Hopefully it'll prevent the tasty critters from climbing up the pole.

We went for a walk down at Cherry Beach. It was windy and cool. I could have stayed there for hours.

A few dogs roamed about.

Seagulls flew about.

The green hasn't come out on the trees on the island across the bay yet.

Once back home, I visited the back garden with Monty.

I ate some violet flowers. They taste like Raspberries. Really.

I think these are Hyacinths.

Monty just soaked in the sun.

At first the rose bush looked dead.

Small flowers are beginning to bloom.

Remnants of last year have appeared through the slush and snow.

Tulips and other bulbed plants are beginning to appear.


Small vibrant shoots are appearing at the base of the rose bush.

All the birds in the neighbourhood are coming by for the buffet.

These are delicious. I forget what they're called.

I'm looking forward to the spring time in the garden. I've decided to plant a good sized vegetable garden. We shall see.



Indian Fishing: Early Methods on the Northwest Coast

While browsing through Tim Smith's Jack Mountain Bushcraft Network, I came across a thread started by Samuel Chapman.

He picked up a copy of Indian Fishing: Early Methods on the Northwest Coast, by Hilary Stewart for a good price and was asking if anyone else had read it. Tim Smith highly recommends it.

Now, I'm not really an avid angler, but I am more interested in the bushcraft that is illustrated in this book. Look at the following images and see how lures and hooks were made without using iron or steel. The intracacy of the lures and hooks and the craftsmanship in creating cedar bark fishing line is astonishing to me.

The book jacket's summary reads:
"Of the many resources available to the First Nations of the Northwest Coast, the most vital was fish. The people devised ingenious ways of catching the different species of fish, creating a technology vastly different from that of today''s industrial world. With attention to clarity and detail, Hilary Stewart illustrates their hooks, lines, sinkers, lures, floats, clubs, spears, harpoons, nets, traps, rakes and gaffs, showing how these were made and used--in over 450 drawings and 75 photographs."

Check out this preview of Indian Fishing: Early Methods on the Northwest Coast on Google Book Search.



Come Rain, Sleet or Snow.

We've had snow here in Toronto over the last couple of days. All I hear from folks trudging in from the parking lot at work, or on their Facebook status comments, or in phone calls are complaints and irritation and unhappiness with the weather. I actually quite like it. And not in an annoying in-your-face kind of way. I just like how the weather is in charge and we're left to figure out how to cope with it. To me it just means a few more days of my shearling hat, and heavy winter jacket. It means daydreams of camping with a big warm fire, a tarp keeping me dry, heavy wool clothes and waiting for the spring rains to come.

I just keep thinking of that saying I read somewhere that there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. The weather has trumped me in the past - I remember camping in minus 20 degree Celcius weather and shivering my butt off. I remember becoming hypothermic in some cold autumn rain. But knowing what I know now about outdoors clothing and camping and survival methods, I know that if those situations presented themselves to me today, I would be fine. Another saying appropriate to these circumstances is "Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance".

One of my most pleasant memories of camping was of a few years ago when a massive rainstorm washed over my campsite in Algonquin Park. I sat bundled up in a wool blanket under a big tarp with a cigar looking out across a lake and watched the rain storm advance, grow, peak, crest, subside and then vanish - replaced in time with sunshine. I felt that this was a privilege that few people get to experience. We're all too busy hurrying from air-conditioned or heated buildings and cars - and staying outside only as long as it is warm and temperate.

If my schedule permits tomorrow, I will walk the one-mile trail around the campus at work (must bring my boots to contend with the wet muddy ground), through the overgrowth and bush. I will bring my camera and see what treasures I can photograph. Come rain, sleet or snow.



Wanted: Flint

The flint in my flint and steel striker kit has worn down and I need a new piece of flint. In fact, I'd like several pieces of nice flint.

I bought my Hudson Bay Steel Striker kit from DB Primitive Forgeworks (I highly recommend them - terrific service).

After I intially ran out of charcloth, I posted on how to make your own charcloth.

But I don't know how to make my own flint. I suppose I'd need to exert tremendous pressures and apply high temperatures to certain minerals etc.... But I simply don't have the time on the geological time scale and effort that this would take.


Please for the love of all that is bushcrafty, would someone please send me some flint. I'll reciprocate with a bushcraft piece of kit that I think is reasonable - suggestions are welcome.

Please. Please. Please.

I can't figure out - despite my massive Googley abilities - where to find some in the Toronto region. No geology shops. No flint deposits sitting at the end of my garden. No secret agent Peter Flint giving me flint (who read Warlord comics as a kid?).

Please - I want flint.

Ask, and ye shall receive - right?



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