The campfire: it is the center of the outdoorswoman's universe; people have stared into flames under a starry sky for a millennia. The campfire represents all that is good and awesome about camping — not to mention the best food is cooked over the flames fueled by logs and twigs collected from the woods. But these days it's a bit of a lost art. So here's your ultimate guide on creating the spiritual center to your camping experience.
Create your own firestarters
Although purists would demand that you start your campfire with nothing but two sticks and some kindling, we at the OBC are a little more practical. Here are some of my favorites (gleaned from Pinterest):
Burn, baby, burn
Now that you've got your firestarters, it's time for the good stuff. First, you need head out and gather as much firewood as you can. Got it.
Great. Now go out and gather three times more. Seriously. Unless you've been building fires for awhile, you will never have enough wood. The info graphic to the right helps you figure how much of what kind of wood you need. Basically, you need three types - all of which should be dry. (Hint: Sometimes finding dead branches attached to a tree, rather than looking on the ground, are your best bet):
Second, decide how you want to structure the wood for maximum air flow. I like both the teepee and the log cabin methods (sometimes a hybrid of the two works best):
The trick is to push a few sticks in the ground to act as a support for the the remaining kindling.
Log cabin campfire
Use the same kinds of fuel, except now you want to place two large sticks parallel to each other on the ground, then turn 90 degrees and lay two more on top (like a log cabin). Add another layer in each direction, but use smaller sticks, moving them closer to the middle. Add your tinder in the middle, kindling on top (you can add a large piece of bark over the top of everything to make it burn even better). Light the tinder/kindling in several different places. As it burns, make sure you don't add any large logs until there's a strong flame and a few coals.
Whatever method you choose, don't make the mistake of smothering the tinder with too much kindling, which prevents air from getting to your flabes, and usually results in too much smoke. Always leave airflow gaps in the kindling, light the fire at its lowest point, and blow gently if needed. Once it starts to take, sit back, relax and enjoy one of the oldest pastimes of human beings (I once heard a contestant on Survivor call it "Survivor TV").
And don't forget to have some way to put out the fire should it somehow get out of control - most people use a bucket of water, but heavy dirt or sand will work as well. Make sure you spread the coals around before you put the fire out for the night - a tedious job if you're tired and cold, but it's the most responsible thing to do. (And we're all about being responsible when out in the natural world.)
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Over the years several myths have developed surrounding women traveling alone. Whether it's "traveling alone is dangerous" or "it's prohibitively expensive to travel by yourself," somehow these myths and untruths have developed into full-blown warnings. But the truth is that traveling by yourself as a woman is one of the most rewarding activities you can participate in. After all, it takes some moxie to decide that you're going to step out into the unknown with just your instincts to guide you.
Top 5 myths of women traveling alone
It's only for spinsters or losers.
Only if you're an AWESOME spinster or loser. When you join a tour or pre-planned trip with strangers, chances are that others on the trip share a common interest with you - whether it's the book or the destination. This gives everyone in the group an immediate bond.
You'll get hurt, murdered or kidnapped.
At Outdoor Book Club, we provide the right gear and expertise to our clients, so you don’t need to worry about traveling somewhere unfamiliar without a safety net. We've got your covered.
It's hugely stressful.
Traveling by yourself is actually very relaxing and freeing. No email, no Facebook, no kids and no men equals a very zen like experience. Also, since all you bring is your personal gear, there’s very little prep before the trip (as opposed to if you had planned the whole trip yourself) and clean up after the trip is over!
You won't know what to do with yourself.
Novelty and adventure keep us smart and young. When you try new things in a supportive environment, and the trip has a good mix between planned activities and personal/free time, you'll wonder where the time went. With our trips, you'll also go to places and have experiences the big tour groups cannot.
We've negotiated discounts and repeat booking bonuses give us access to first-class packages at economy prices. And our prices are a great deal, when you consider everything, including your food, drink and fees, are included in the price.
Traveling alone in an all-female entourage is actually one of the most empowering things you can do as a woman. It's fun, it's educational and it's empowering — in fact, we're not sure why more women don't do it more often!
Jill Hinton Wolfe,
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