I went camping with my family in Mandokoro. It was a beautiful weekend showing my kids around the natural tea gardens of Mandokoro, experimenting with a different way of making a fire, trying out my hammock tent setup for the first time, enjoying some bushcraft, taking a cold plunge in the river for cold exposure, and simply having a great time in the outdoors!
[Watch the video which this article is a transcription of]
I really love camping and being out in the outdoors because here the worries of everyday life are taken away. Just being out in nature, connecting with the earth, with soil, with everything is a great way to find that connection again with the peacefulness and the quietness of existence. That is really what I love about being out in nature, camping, doing some bush crafting, trying to set up different camp styles, etc.
Making a fire for camping
This time I’m experimenting with a different way of making a fire. Experimentation is key to enjoying a great camping trip. It allows you to try something new each time, accumulate new experience and grow your understanding and knowledge; not only by reading it in a book, but from actual hands-on experimentation.
What you want for a fire first is a tinder bundle. This is something that’s very flammable. Then you’ll need kindling, which are usually smaller pieces of quickly flammable wood. Finally, you’ll need fuel, which is something like heavier logs.
Making a feather stick
I don’t really have a tinder bundle, but I do have some very flammable dry wood. And to ignite this wood easily I’m going to make a feather stick. The idea is to make thin, fine curls on this piece of wood, which will catch fire more quickly and get the whole thing going.
I don’t want to cut too deep and I don’t want to make them too large. I simply want to make a lot of these feather curls. Each time you make a cut, you create a new flat surface. Avoid cutting the same flat surface again. With every flat surface, you also create an edge on either side. For the next cut, twist the wood slightly so you can cut on one of the edges that you’ve just created. Keep repeating the process until you have a bunch of these thin curls on your piece of wood, which will eventually give you your feather stick!
Igniting the fire
So with feather stick it’s very easy to start your fire. You just use a lighter, and light it on fire and you’re good to go.
Now, before I use a lighter, I want to try something else and see if I can also make that work with this feather stick. I have flint and steel and I made myself some char cloth on a previous trip. This time I want to try to ignite the char cloth with flint and steel. Once I have a little ember on the char cloth, I’ll put it on the feather stick I just made, and try to ignite it into a flame.
On the first try I immediately ignited the char cloth after the first hit. But the wood didn’t catch the fire. It was a good first strike, a good ember, but I have a feeling my feather curls are still too rough and thick.
I feel that making a fire is something that is as essential as breathing. Knowing how to make a fire is so important. It relates to tea ceremony as well. Because you need fire to burn the charcoal to boil your water.
Each time we dig into something, such as making a bowl of tea, we think about what is necessary for it? We need water for it; so how do we boil the water? How do you make the charcoal to boil the water? Where does that charcoal come from? How do we make the fire? And sgradually we always come back to the same natural essence, the essence of life itself.
Simply being out in the wild and trying to figure out how this mechanism works, how the fire works, how to do it primitive style; those are things that are immensely enjoyable and make tea ceremony also so much more fun when you get to do this. By doing these experiments you grow your understanding of nature, of life itself, and in relation also tea ceremony, because all these aspects are so very closely related.
Bird’s nest tinder
Usually you would want something that’s similar to a bird’s nest as tinder to turn the ember on your char cloth into a flame. This can be made from the inner bark of a tree or something that’s very flammable like straw, etc. You would put your char cloth ember in it, and blow on it to make the fire go.
My feather curls are rather thick and not so easy to catch a flame with, but on the third try it finally worked out. What I learned in this process was how to make a feather stick; how to use flint and steel to get an ember to make a flame on our feather stick and to get our fire going.
This is a successful start of our camping trip in Mandokoro!
Morning after hammock camping
Good morning. It was a beautiful night. It wasn’t too cold. I was of course dressed very warmly to sleep comfortably in my hammock. It was the first time that I did hammock camping and I really enjoyed it. It was great. I was a bit wary about whether or not I was going to be able to sleep or if I was going to get some pains in the back and this and that. But actually it worked out fine and I was able to lay quite flat using the hammock in a somewhat sideways way. It was a great, great night. I didn’t expect I would sleep this well.
The essence of life
Camping to me is really just a way to be able to connect back to the essence; to connect back to the hand that feeds us; to connect back to where we gain our life, our life energy from. And that is the earth, the soil. Everything that grows, is grown upon the soil.
it’s really important for me to take these moments to connect back, to be subjected to the elements. We’re often locked up in our houses and we’re cut off from the elements. We can change the temperature inside. When it rains we’re dry. We can basically choose whichever environmental climate that we want to be in when we’re in our houses.
Is just not the case when you’re outside. And so because we’re so disconnected, it’s important to, at least at a few times, take this connection back and put yourself out there in connection with the outdoors. And if it’s cold, it’s cold. There’s nothing that you will change about it. You can only think about the steps that you are going to take to make yourself feel warm or make yourself feel comfortable. You try to work with it! And that’s the ingenuity of camping, of hiking, of bush crafting, of being out in the outdoors. There is this situation, what do I do about it to make it comfortable? That in itself is such a beautiful and powerful thing to do.
So I feel really good. It’s just a little past six in the morning. I’m going to start doing some morning activities, some morning rituals that I always do, and we’ll get started with the day and just have an enjoyable, relaxing day.
I took a plunge in the cold river. Cold exposure is one of my daily rituals to get the day started. I do it for myself. It’s a great moment to invigorate and revitalize. Next it’s time for some tea.
I have a dedicated camp tea pot. It’s an old bronze tea pot on which I’ve used some paracord to wrap the handle. I also put a cord around the lid to keep the lid in place. And I have a carabiner on it so I can hang it. The funny thing is that it gives it a double function. If you hang it on your backpack, it becomes a bear bell. Although this wasn’t intentional. I love this teapot because I don’t have to worry about breaking it or not. This one can take beating!
Camping Morning Matcha
Time for a matcha moment, I have my matcha bowls, tea scoop, and then I also have my tea whisk container. The whisk container usually doesn’t come with it, but there are these very useful wooden ‘kusenaoshi’ tea whisk shapers. I like to use that to keep my whiske in shape because otherwise the tines in this get sort of squashed.
Time for a revitalizing morning matcha! I’m going to enjoy this tea. Let me know in the comments how you connect to nature, how you connect to the hand that feeds you, how you connect to the soil beneath our feet.
Cheers to the morning.