making fire

Natures Tools and Making Fire

Nature Has Many Tools to Offer

water seeping through rocks

water seeping through rocks

Drinking Water

Water is an essential for survival. I typically don’t drink from rivers or streams as I don’t want to be downstream from beaver feces or other impurities. It can make you pretty sick. The closer I am to a water source the more confident I am in drinking it. I’ve often found the beginning of a creek, where the water is literally flowing under my feet shallow below the earth. I also drink water that is coming out of cracks of rock and cliff faces.

Noise That Carries a Distance

If you are lost, and didn’t bring a noisemaker to help people find you, then keep your eyes out for an acorn shell. The cup can be made into a referees whistle. Put the acorn shell between your thumbs, with a small space by your knuckles. Then put your lips firmly over your knuckles, and blow. Move the angle of the acorn shell up and down until you find that perfect spot. You’ll know you have it right when you hear the piercing whistle. 

Another thing you can do is to pick up a dry solid hard wood stick, and periodically bang it against a large tight bark tree. It will make a chopping sound that carries far though the woods. Any normal person will know this sound isn’t made by an animal, and will start to search in your direction.

Starting a Fire

One of the most important things in woods survival is starting a fire. On damp days it can seem impossible. But even if you are dealing with wet wood, if the fire is hot enough, eventually the wood will dry, and burn. The trick is in getting the fire started. Luckily the woods has incredible lighter fluid all around - birch bark. Birch bark is absolutely amazing in retaining its properties and structure even though the tree may have died decades ago. Do not remove bark from a living tree as there are plenty of dead ones on the forest floor.  Even in wet conditions, simply get a flame on it and you’ll have instant fire strong enough to get a stubborn branch red hot. 

If you don’t have a lighter and brought a flint instead, then you’ll need to find some dry tinder to get things started. Cedar trees are throughout Northern Michigan. The bark is often dry (especially on the opposite side of the rain or underside of a tree growing at an angle). Simply shave some  superficial surface bark from the tree. Then find some dry very fragile branches and make a small bundle with them. Be sure your birch bark is nearby with the larger branches for the permanent fire. Ignite the cedar tinder, then the small branches, then the birchbark and finally your large fire.

Other excellent tinder is the inside of a cattail. Even under very wet circumstances, the dense cattail keeps the inner fluffy stuff nice and dry. you can simply break them in half, exposing the dry innards and easily light it.