Late last night and into the early hours of today the Wolf Pack and I took a trip to the mountain forest to light a camp fire. We returned to the same area that our first campfire was lit to celebrate my return to Northern Ireland as detailed in “One”, but as agreed we went further into the “wild”. Coming prepared we brought torches, a hatchet, a saw, a machete, a hunting knife, marshmallows, sausages, beer, whisky (bourbon) and a whistle. However neither Gavin, Keith nor I thought to bring matches to actually light the fire. I had a flint, but we had no tinder and try as we might to light wood shavings and bits of paper from our pockets with it nothing would catch from the spark. Thankfully one member, Jonny, was still en route and he had the good sense to pack some tinder and bring a lighter. So in the interim we three silly halfwits made ourselves busy collecting firewood to make a small campsite deep in the woods. As always we all took the upmost of care to build a proper fire pit, with all forest bedding cleared away and cleaned down to the dirt bed. It was a respectful and conscientious campsite safe and clean bringing all of our rubbish back home with us when we left.
Jonny arrived in good time, we had left a good trail for him to track us down into the uncharted and now deeply darkening woods. He stalked us from afar just long enough to hear me begin to complain that “…he had better fucking show up” as with all the effort we were putting in gathering materials and setting up camp for us to be unable to light anything would have been a disaster! Thankfully he did show up, and to a bow from the three of us who had forgotten to bring any matches or tinder. We managed to light a bundle of small twigs with the cotton balls Jonny had brought with him by using my flint, and striker. Something has to be said for how it feels dong it this way, yes the cotton was somewhat of a cheat but really there was nothing dry enough in our surroundings to catch light.
In no time the small bundle of twigs had caught and we added the bigger sticks we had gathered from the forest floor, I had been busy cutting segments out of a fallen tree that had been uprooted and was perfectly dry but suitably dense for the larger fuel. So our campfire burning with a heat comparable to that of the Inferno we settled down for beer, marshmallows and whisky/bourbon.
The photo above shows me deep in my woodsman persona, equipped with beard welly boots and whisky sporting a lovely machete. There was another campsite quite a ways further up from us, not anywhere near as deep in as we were. There was a discussion of going down to see how close we could go undetected but the laziness and the fire kept us anchored to the spots. Another one of our discussions landed on is whisky flammable, and the video under will show the answer to that!
Taking a walk not far from camp showed the utter darkness that we were surrounded by, the photo below reminds me of the illustration in the hobbit where Bilbo snuck up upon the trolls in the woods. There was something so calming about this, and I think that given the opportunity I would do it alone! However I may bring my crossbow if I did!
The video below shows me in my element building the fire up and up, in the time it takes for Keith to film Gavin and Jonny chilling the fire had grown so much they had to tell me to stop! I never did!
Sitting pondering life with three of your best friends while a fire burns is nothing short of paradise. The talk to get this wild camping adventure is still in the works, but nights like this are just as good, there is something magical in it, sitting there in a dark wood surrounded by nothing but darkness.
If it wasn’t for the mobile phones going every now and then (taking photos) you could imagine yourself back in the days of old, or in the days to come when the apocalypse hits. Wither it be a worldwide, permanent electrical-power blackout like in the TV show Revolution, a unknown strain of influenza which has wiped out most of the human species like in Survivors, or the zombie infested world of The Walking Dead, the end is coming and you need to be prepared! Ok I think I digressed there, sorry. Our night needed with a speedy trip down the mountain road and into MacDonald’s for a hot chocolate! It was a classic campfire night although we didn’t stay as planed we had a fantastic time!