Adventure Journal

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Creating a Primitive Bowl

Creating a Primitive Bowl

The article below shows us how to create a primitive bowl using fire, a knife, and a piece of deadfall log. The article is illustrated with photographs. This project is designed to be reproducible in a survival situation. This project is also part of Wolfmaan's primitive living and survival course.

The first part of the project is to find a piece of deadfall log. You are seeking a log without too many splits in it, as the bowl may need to hold water in the future. Choose a log that is oval shaped if possible, and fairly short. If necessary, you can use your knife to saw through the log and cut it to it's desired length.

You want to ensure use of a deadfall log as a live log will not properly burn and the project will take days instead of just a few hours.

Selecting the Log

[select a deadfall log]

Next, select the spot on your log which will be the actual bowl. Inspect your log carefully to ensure you use the “worst” side. Small splits, cracks, or other imperfections are okay as they will be burned away.

Take your knife and chip away a small spot in the surface of the log. This will hold your embers and prevent them from rolling around off the log and potentially burning you badly.

Carving the log
[carving the center of the log]

To be neat and appealing to the eye, I took my knife and whittled the edges of the log on the top, to make it look a little bit more finished. This is optional and will have no effect on the usefulness of your project.

[whittling the edges]

Start a small fire. This will provide you with burning embers which will be needed for the project. If in a real survival situation the fire will need to be constantly tended to. For this project, the fire may burn itself out after you have created it. I used scrap wood for my fire as the intent is to create a series of hot coals.

[creating a fire]

Once the fire has a bed of coals, *CAREFULLY* obtain some small embers. This can be done by using a long stick to knock the embers onto your knife, or if you have one, a shovel or other instrument. Be careful when handling embers as they can cause serious burns.

Place the embers on your log, and gently blow on them to make them glow red. The point is to get the log itself to start to smoulder and ignite in the center.

[embers carefully placed on the log]

As you can see by the following photo, a small fire may erupt on your log. This will simply accelerate your progress. Beware if the fire starts to get too large, your bowl will not grow deep, but large and shallow. This will not be as useful when it has been completed.

[embers burning the log]

When your embers have burned themselves out, return them to your fire pit. While there, use your knife to dig out the log. Dig only the center of the log, and leave the charred edges intact. This will encourage your log to burn deep, rather than wide.

Load your log with new embers, and allow them to burn. Help the process by blowing air onto the embers and ensuring that they glow nicely.

[removing burnt embers from log]

By now you should see a clear round or oval shape of your bowl begining to come to life. The embers will start to sit in the log, rather than on the log. This means the project is coming along.

[burning embers in log]

To ensure your log burns deep and not wide, ensure that the edges of the log are kept damp. In a survival situation cat tails will act like a sponge and hold water in, to be smeared around the log. Avoid pouring water on the log as it will undoubtedly be drawn to your embers and attempt to wreck your project. Wipe the edges of the log frequently to ensure your bowl becomes deep.

[using cat tails as a sponge]

[using cat tail sponge to apply water to the log]

After several replacement embers, and scrapings, your log will start to take shape. When feel the bowl is deep enough, dispose of your embers into the fire pit and scrape the bowl out completely. It may take a bit of work to get all the pieces of burnt log out of your bowl. Be careful not to scrape too hard or you will have ruined the afternoons work.

[embers burning through the log to create a bowl]

Scraping the log
[scraping the log]

Your completed bowl should look similar to the one below. A nice, deep hollow should be in the middle of your log. This can take several hours to accomplish and gets better with practice.

Completed Bowl
[completed bowl]

Once you are satisfied with your bowl, fill it with water to ensure it will not leak, and to ensure that there is no smouldering still taking place.

Filling the bowl with water
[filling the completed bowl with water]

There are many things you can do to finish your bowl. You can use a rough rock to grind out more of the inside and make it smoother. You can even use natural resins to put a finish on the bowl so it can be more useful. If you have the time you can whittle the exterior and make it more bowl shaped. The possibilities are endless. This is only a beginners guide to creating primitive bowls.

Once completed, this bowl may be used for dozens of things around your campsite. It can be used for holding drinking water. It can even be used for transporting embers to a new campsite if you have no way of starting a new fire.

The log bowl takes a lot of time to make. In a survival situation this is a good thing as it helps occupy the mind and keep it sharp. Boredom in can be your worst enemy. Please comment on this article, and “Digg it” if you feel it may be of use to others.

PLEASE NOTE: There is a possibility of cuts from your knife, and burns from fire embers. Please use caution and care when using sharp objects, and working around fire! If you choose to use any methods in this article – and it's affiliates are not responsible for damages caused directly or indirectly from use and misuse of this article and it's directions.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Rock Chapel Falls

Rock Chapel Falls is nestled in North Hamilton on Highway 5, near where it crosses Highway 6. Getting there is relatively easy from the QEW highway.

Pulling into the parking lot, the park seems uninteresting. A small gravel lot with a dozen cars, and of course a ticket wicket to pay for parking. There is also a sign which states to keep your dog on a leash at all times.

This small conservation area is crossed by the world famous Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail, however does not dare venture into the gorge itself. Too dangerous. This conservation are has three distinct habitats located within it. The trail starts at the upper plateau. This area has a Cliff face habitat, followed by a Talus slope.

My goal was to reach the base of the waterfall. This could not be accomplished by simply following a trail. Most main trails have a habit of keeping you away from the fun, in order to ensure your safety. I would be sure to seek a side trail which would lead me to the base of the gorge, and follow it to the waterfall.

A steep, windy pathway led from the upper plateau past the cliff face. The path was narrow and damp. There was a lot of broken glass which slowed me down with bare feet. The base of the gorge revealed a large series of boulders, rocks, and trees cut in half by the river. This would be the pathway to the base of Rock Chapel Falls.

Rock Chapel Falls River

I love waterfalls. I especially love standing at the base of a large waterfall and enjoying the mist spraying in my face, and the feeling of wellness from being exposed to the negative ions which are released as the water tumbles. Rock Chapel falls is an 8 metre high horsetail ribbon waterfall.

The riverbed was strewn with giant boulders, and dead-fall which made navigation a challenge. My husky Luka had to be lifted over several sections. My two Jack Russell Terriers Merlin and Morgana also needed some assistance.

Looking around, the area was stunningly beautiful. Like nothing most city dwellers ever experience. Giant trees lay across the river, some with root systems still intact. These trees have managed to weave chunks of rock into their complex root systems. Boulders re-route the otherwise straight path of the river and create dozens of small rapids, and waterfalls. Some as large as 2m in height.

Tiny waterfalls at Rock Chapel

There was little evidence of human intervention here. Only a few pieces of scrap metal, and an old bicycle were visible. Nature had removed the rest and swept it somewhere downriver.

The terrain presented quite a challenge. The boulders were tough to negotiate and some were covered in slime which made them very slippery. Going barefoot is the best way to scramble the large, porous rocks. My hiking partner Tori sustained quite a few scrapes and bruises. The Jack Russells also received quite a few bumps, and scrapes.

Two hours of rough, battering terrain led to the base of Rock Chapel falls. The narrow, tree covered gorge expanded out into a rocky area with a large talus pile edging it. There was little sound other than the splattering of water. The water poured effortlessly over the edge of the falls and plummeted the 8 metres to the shallow basin below.

I took some time to relax at the base of the falls and get some photographs. I also ate lunch which consisted of some power bars which I had purchased at Mountain Equipment Co-Op en-route to the falls.

Rock Chapel Falls

Leaving the basin was easier than expected. A small pathway led up the talus pile to the cliff face. There was a thick, but damaged rope hanging from a tree. The rope led to the plateau of the escarpment, a few metres from the roadside. I helped the dogs up the cliff face, and hoisted myself up with the damaged rope. It was an easy exit.

Luka near the Rock Chapel Basin

The pathway from the exit point led to the parking lot where the car awaited. I removed my pack, and headed home. It was a fantastic waterfall to visit.

Remember to keep your dog on a leash. Locals say that Royal Botanical Gardens park wardens will cause a real headache for you if your dog is off leash. They will sometimes ask for your dogs vaccination and registration tags. Failure to have these on your dog can result in confiscation of you pet on the trail.

For a slideshow of the trip, click here