One of the goals of my camping trip this September was to build a fire. I didn’t need to build a fire to survive, to cook from or for warmth. I simply wanted to build one to prove to myself that I could. As a bonus, I could relax and enjoy the fire’s beauty, make some s’mores and sip cider .
In September, I went on a solo road trip to Pacific Rim National Park and camped at Green Point Campground. At night it was a toss up on whether I should build a fire after dinner or go enjoy the sunset. The sunset and Parks Canada program won out but after the sun was down and I was back at the campsite, I successfully built my own fire. It was easier then I thought. I had built up the idea that making a fire by myself was going to be difficult, but it wasn’t. It just shows you that you never know what you can achieve or accomplish unless you try. I admit I am proud of myself for trying something new!
I was building a fire in a fire pit, with firewood bought from Parks Canada shed, a minute walk from my campsite. If you haven’t built a fire before, set yourself up for success. I wouldn’t try making my first campfire in the pouring rain, with damp wood or in the backcountry. I will attempt to build fires under more difficult conditions once I get more experience. The first time should be in fairly easy conditions.
Before I went I watched Parks Canada, Learn to Start a Campfire video and a couple more videos. I also asked a couple of friends for some tips for first time campfire starters. Below is a list of hints to build a fire:
- Depending on where you camp, if the facilities are available, buy your wood from the park/campground. If they don’t sell it, they can probably tell you where to buy it. Don’t bring wood from different areas/provinces. Don’t use deadfall as it is valuable for the environment.
- Keep your wood dry. At night, I would put the wood on a tarp and cover it but depending on your environment , that may not be necessary.
- Use longer, sturdier wooden kitchen matches or a barbecue lighter. Leave those free match books at home. You can also use a fire paste or starter to help get it going.
- Overestimate on how long it will take to chop the logs into small kindling bits, don’t skip this step as it’s important to get smaller pieces to get the fire going. The hatchet, being smaller than an axe was more comfortable for me.
- Before you start building your fire, make sure the immediate area around the campfire is clear and there is nothing flammable in the pit.
- Keep your fire small, start off with twig size pieces and old paper, make a small tipi with kindling, continue to feed the fire, blow on it. Start adding a bit bigger pieces of wood as it catches and grows. Don’t smother the flames, the fire needs oxygen to grow.
- Enjoy a glass of your favourite beverage and make some campfire desserts once it’s going,once the fire gets going. Remember to keep adding wood to the fire.
- If you are not successful keep trying. Make sure the wood isn’t damp and that the wood pieces are small enough.
- Make sure your fire is out. I let my fire die down and then the coals around until they became cool. You can also spread out the fire, let it die and slowly put water on it if you can’t wait to cool on it’s own. Always make sure you don’t leave it burning or hot to touch. There are too many forest fires caused by humans.
I have to admit, the only difficult part of solo camping and creating a fire, is you can’t leave it alone so make sure you have everything you need before settling in. I loved sitting around the fire and reflecting on the day. I pushed my own comfort level, chopped my own wood and created my own fire, twice. I’m happy I did it, stepping outside of my comfortable zone led to a couple of great nights by the fire. I’m already craving another trip to Pacific Rim where the toughest decisions are where to hike and where to watch the sunset.
If you have any questions or first campfire experiences to share, please do!