Niagara Bushcrafters April Campout
Sunday, April 8th the Niagara Bushcrafters met for the first official camp-out of the year. The air was cool, and the smell of fresh earth filled my lungs as I walked past acres of grapes to a wooded area located in Niagara-on-the-Lake. One of the members was fortunate enough to be able to host the gathering.
Walking toward the edge of the woods, the ground felt cold and we under my bare feet. We all had our large overnight packs, complete with tents, axes, and of course knives.
The woods had a tear-drop shape opening where we were greeting by a small field of freshly cut grass, a pile of cut wood, and an inviting fire pit. We all looked around the area to find the best spot to pitch our tents. Sean decided to use his new Gransfors Bruks axe to split some wood into small pieces to start the fire.
The wind was coming directly into our small clearing from the vineyards which surrounded us. Ed, Dave, and I set-up a tarp as a wind break. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to enjoy the land and feel the camaraderie with such people of like mind.
Ed had been given a tent. This tent was not like any other tent. “The tent from the Future!” Ed laughed as he pulled it from its large bag. His tent was a large 3-man dome tent with fiberglass poles and bright, silver exterior. We laughed at it, but it was better than no tent at all.
It was the Easter weekend. All of us were full from family dinners which we had all partaken in earlier in the day. No one was hungry.
Tents and tarps set-up, we gathered by the fire to relax for the evening, and exchange stories about our latest adventures, including the canoe trip which Sean and I went on just a few weeks prior.
The sun slowly slipped into the horizon, and the evening dew settled over the land. Laughter and stories of adventures, now more grandiose than ever before echoed through the woods.
Around midnight, we heard some rustling in the woods, and saw someone moving. As they approached, they tripped on one of the bright orange guy-wires from one of the tents. “Dean!” I shouted out loud.
“Mind the guy wires!” Sean yelled out laughing as Dean danced around trying not to fall to the ground.
We talked about permaculture patches, earth ship homes, dome homes, and even the possibility of buying some land for the group. The night wore on. The wind picked up.
The wind caused the campfire to swirl like a tornado. No matter what we did, the smoke rushed into our eyes, and burned. We all took turns squinting, although I think the squinting made the burning worse. “I don’t think I have a piece of outdoor gear that doesn’t smell like smoke” Dave commented.
“If you did, you won’t now” I laughed.
Around 02:00 I decided it was time for me to head to bed. Dean slipped away into the darkness. The wind was blowing a gale. The tents flapped furiously, as if they had decided to run away from home as fast as possible. Over the years, the sleeping bag and tent have become more comfortable than any bed for me. I lay in my tent and wondered if Ed’s tent would survive the night with the vicious wind.
Dawn came and I awoke to a beautiful, sunny day in the woods. I could hear the crackle of the morning fire. Chickadees “hee-hawed” in the distance. I peered out my tent, to see smoke rising from the fire.
Surprisingly, Ed’s silver future-tent survived the windstorm. “If it did not survive, it would have become a large bivy” he laughed.
Sean awakened and brought out some beautiful bacon. He made a spit using some wood, and we had smoked bacon over an open fire for breakfast.
The bacon slowly darkened and firmed up as we all waited in anticipation of our morning outdoor feast.
As breakfast slowly made itself ready, we packed our tents and gear and started thinking about our next adventure.
We lingered by the fire for a few hours, and enjoyed the beautiful, bright, crisp morning. Sadly, all of us had things to do for the day, but we always make the time for a quick get-away into nature.