Category Archives: primitive camping

To Rebuild a Fire—When the Flame Has Gone Out

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Bonfire burning bright!

As fascinated as I was reading from Jack London as a child, I’m not going to retell To Build a Fire. I am, however, going to address the art of bringing back the flame when it has almost died out.

Let’s pretend that you built a fire in a fire ring and that you have cleared all flammable items for 10’ in every direction so you can leave it unattended and get your tent ready for bed. You’re crawling around in your tent blowing up the sleeping pad, rolling out your sleeping bag, hanging an led lantern and finding your night time reading. You crawl out and zip the netting. You’re eager to sit with your honey by the fire and oh no! your fire is almost out.

  1. Move evenly and with moderate speed so you don’t blow out what you have left with the wind generated by your hasty movements. Hurry is your enemy here but modulated quickness is your friend.

2. Position your body between any wind and the fire.

3. Carefully lift each piece of wood and lay the warm end in the center of the fire ring where the ashes are the warmest. Watch carefully to only pick up a stick that is cool on one end. Lay the sticks so the warm ends touch and get as many as you can together so their combined warmth begins to rise.

4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the wood. This will blow away some of the ash and allow any remaining embers to be exposed to more oxygen in the air.

5. When your air is gone from that breath, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Repeat till you get a flame. It will often burst into a small flame just at the end of a long breath.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the small flame begins to grow slowly. Once again the key is gently and slowly—no sudden movements.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size flame.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind.

If you banked your fire over night with a sizable log, this may work in the morning too. Add a step to the beginning of this list—use a stick to gently brush away the surface ash that has accumulated over any warm spot till you find 5 or 6 bits of glowing ember. Push them carefully together and start with step one above using this little pile of embers as the center.

Practice—practice—practice and this method will save you a lot of grief and provide many happy returns. Your Honey will probably be impressed. My Honey still gasps with delight when that first flame returns with a burst. See my Honey’s guest blog to see what fire was rebuilt on this day two years ago…Happy Engagement Anniversary Honey!

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Is there something in your life where the fire has gone out? Maybe with your Honey? What steps could you take to bring back the flame?

Princess Loral Loves Part Primitive

My Honey is part princess—the kind that you would normally think of—glamours dresses, jewelry and makeup. She is also the princess who can rule over her feelings and desires to endure some hardship to get to see the beauty out in nature that she loves so much.  Read her guest blog for tips on how to make it work—successfully see beauty and still maintain a necessary level of comfort.

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doing the check list before our original primitave adventure—ta dah!

She loves beauty so much that we have had rewarding nights in primitive locations. Primitive meaning no facilities, no water, no electricity and only what you can carry for your needs. The reward for such hardship is going to sleep under a full moon, a starry night or the waves crashing on the sand melodically twenty yards away. Or getting to experience a romantic sunset and fire on the beach completely alone—just us. No neighbors, no noise, no city lights and no interruptions.

We have been doing component adventures where we practice as little as one piece at a time of an epic adventure.  We are still putting together all that we need so that I can take her, for example, for 8 days in the Yosemite Wilderness. I want to retrace the steps my buddy Randy and I did so she can see the breathtaking beauty that I did. We are working our way toward epic one component at a time.

There are many aspects of a grander trip that we are now combining as we increase our collective skill. We did our load plan and carefully filled our backpacks to be gone for 48 hours of completely primitive fun. The trade off for my Honey was sand, beach and gulf waves. But we have a total melt down the first night, packed it up the next morning and hiked back to the car…not sure what to do to fix this failure. After a good meal and some soul searching, we decided that with God’s help we would try again and have fun—and we had a blast. What a perfect experience on that beach that night!

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Beach camp fire deep in the sand

After this experience we coined the term partial primitive. We plan to do it again for three nights or so next time because it combines multiple one day loops and time in town. I get the hiking, making camp and living out of our packs in 20 hour chunks at a time; she gets to spend a couple of hours in town dressed in a cute sun dress being taken out to eat. Then we hike back in for adventure and romance alone for the next 20 hours in primitive land.

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back in town for a meal on the beach

This method we found to be inexpensive too.  No fee or a low fee for each night which gives us frugal hikers some wiggle room for a meal in town each day and a cheap hotel if a huge storm comes through. What a wonderful accidental discovery that is now another “our way” of doing some of our outdoor adventures.

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What compromise could you work out with your Honey? Do you have a fun “our way” of doing things that is parts of both of you?

Why Do I Want My Honey on the Trail With Me?

Today, as I read my Honey’s blog that she posted last night at cowriterpro.com – her business site, I felt inspired to answer this question in the title of today’s blog. Here is what my quotable Queen said in her blog:IMG_2982

“So what can I do, today, to affect the spreading of love with a skill that I love—the skill of writing. I can encourage you to write to those you love. To tell them how important they are to you. To tell them that they are loved. Tell them about the two or three memories that you treasure. Tell them about how they made you laugh. Edit the part out about how they made you cry. Tell them about the good now because tomorrow isn’t promised. And Forgive.”

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Just knowing she’s there

There are many positive things I could say in response to this advice. I will try to only address why having her on the trail with me is so special – choosing to address just this part – because after all, this blog is about Hiking With Your Honey.

She makes the trail real.

I still like to hike with an athletic bent for speed and conditioning but I love hiking with my Honey because she sees every butterfly, snail, flower and water fall.  Now I SEE the real forest and the trees – through her eyes and mine. One day at Henry Horton State Park  I watched with joy as Loral stopped dead in her tracks to watch five butterflies. I laughed as I watched her try to follow them all with her head and eyes. She was the cutest bobble head ever.

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Bobble Head Honey watching butterflies

I love what we talk about

The deep thoughts and the superficial chatter. To hear her laughter and to watch her be silly. One night we hiked back in to the car and drove to near by Pensacola to have a nice meal and she dressed up in the beach bath house because she wanted to feel pretty. After dinner I had a hard time keeping up as she ran along the beach in her bare feet splashing in the surf, laughing, dancing, spinning and giggling at herself for this silly wonderful display.

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So happy spinning in the surf

And then I love her presence

Just being together quietly swinging in a hammock, sitting on a log eating snacks and looking out over a lake, snuggling by a fire. On our second night primitive camping on the beach on Perdido Key I woke up over and over because the moon was so bright. Waking up was magical though because each time I would marvel that she was there with me – sleeping peacefully in the gulf breeze.

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Just a swingin’

Loral Pepoon, I love you! I’m putting it in writing and giving it to you! Three happy thoughts with three special memories. Thanks for the inspiring post:-)

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Could you stop, write down an “I love you” thought, story or tender tribute? Then give it to the object of that affection? Sure you can – give it a try –  It doesn’t have to be eloquent, cute or funny – just be real and make it permanent:-) Who will the loved one be?

A Beautiful “Do Over” Moonlit Night

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“Our favorite time of light when the sun kisses the night”

“Fighting is terrible but at least you get to make up,” someone said to me once.  I’m not a big fan of this idea but when making up follows real resolution, I’m all about that.  Still seated in the coffee shop where we hashed out the 9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site…our skin was suffering from the hot air outside and the air inside was still warm from the fiery debate. But our hearts were aglow with the joy and satisfaction of having been heard and appreciated. Unsure what to do now with this hard earned vacation day, we just sat pondering over our useful solution to our ugly problem.

It was in the happy but tentative silence of that moment that my Honey quietly asked a question: “Is there any part of you that wants to try this again?” I immediately responded, “yes”.

Almost without words we committed to each other to do the same primitive night between the dunes and the waves of the Gulf that we had tried to do the night before. With the energy of excitement over certain success, we repacked all our gear and checked our supplies.

Back to Perdido Key we went. Our park pass that cost only $15 dollars for the week was still good so we whipped the car in behind the Ranger’s Station and filled out another primitive back country registration form.  We giggle as we drove in with that deja vu feeling…or maybe more like the movie Ground Hog Day where the main character got to repeat the same day over and over until he got it right.

We dove past all the public beaches, past the last legal parking spot and down to the end of the blacktop. We made a nest for Loral to soak up the sun and watch the waves and I drove the half mile back to park the car. I returned to kiss my Honey and help her into her backpack. We made silly puns and meandered along the shore looking for perfect sea shells.

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My Honey – so happy to be barefoot in the sand!

My honey was barefooted, clad in her one piece bathing suit and 40 pound pack. She walked on the packed wet sand and let the waves tickle her toes. I have a bit of bad background with direct sunlight so I was in my hat, long sleeves, pants, boots and 60 pound pack.  I walked along in the loose sand and occasionally on the packed sand when I could dodge the waves.

We stopped and talked to fisherman and other campers while we covered almost a mile more of beach to get to a secluded spot. With all that we learned we discussed how we would set up camp satisfying all our practical concerns and her nesting decorating concerns. Camp was perfect and our meandering trip through the dunes carefully stepping around the protected vegetation was peaceful.

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The dunes washed in pastel light

We set up our tiny chairs on the other side of the key, got out our snacks and water and settled in to wait for the most glorious sunset we have seen to date.  The fish jumped from the water and the birds flittered all around as if celebrating our restored joy. As the sun melted into our Favorite Time of Light we held hands and gushed on and on about the beauty of what God had made.

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Wow!

We slipped back to our camp – which looked awesome as we approached – and throughly enjoyed our evening and night under the biggest full moon I have ever seen. We slept with the flaps open on the tent letting the gulf breeze blow through and carry away the heat and cares of the day.

The next morning we spent in our beach cabana reading our Bible and talking to the Creator. We watched the hermit crabs surface tentatively from their holes and scurry back at the least sign of danger. We watched the fish jump and the birds float on the air currents and then reluctantly left that happy time to pack up and break camp.

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Camp is ready and we are off to the sunset

Loral jumped in the water to prepare for the hot hike back and once again I covered up from head to toe to lead the way to the car. This chance to repeat what had been so badly damaged was such a special treat. Thank God we get the chance sometimes for a “do over.”

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Is there something you need to hash out with your Honey to get resolved and move on? Is there any way to get a “do over” to reclaim what was lost?