I first heard about the Wilderness Living Project when I met Delmar at staff training on Mount Seymour. Hiking the trails with him it was obvious that he has a lot of knowledge and is happy to share it. When the poster went up for his North Vancouver based workshops I was super excited to sign up.
A few friends decided to sign up as well, we carpooled to the Eslha7an Learning Centre. We arrived and Jenna signed us in. We had time to walk around the room looking at different types of tinder, and materials for bow drills. Once everyone arrived we gathered on benches in a circle. Delmar and his wife sang us a song welcoming the day.
After introductions Jenna lead us outside to show us what we were aiming for. Removing her shoes she knelt down placing her foot on the baseboard, attaching the spindle to her bow she started a sawing motion. Smoke started rising almost immediately. She took the coal she created and placed it into the tinder bundle. A few breathes into the tinder bundle and the coal sprang into flames.
Our turn, but first we have to make our bow drills. First step was selecting and carving our spindle. Many people were carving for the first time. We selected our knives and they left us to it, coming around to check on our progress and give advice on our technique. Once our spindle was ready we chose a top, a baseboard and a bow. The whole room smelled of the cedar we used for the spindle and base. The top and bow were made out of vine maple.
Time to head outside, the wood made a horrible screeching sound as we started drilling. I was amazed at how easily Jenna had started the fire this morning. Now I was astonished. I couldn’t get the spindle to stay in the bow it kept popping out and flying across the area. Everyone focused on getting their drill going just right, we were trying to burn a hole into the base. The screeching became infrequent as we got better. Eventually small wisps of smoke were coming up from my baseboard and my spindle fit so that it didn’t fly quite so far when it popped off the bow.
Once the hole was burnt deep enough into the baseboard we cut a notch from the side into the hole. Delmar reminded us making a fire heats you three times. Once gathering the supplies, a second time as you get it started and a third time as you sit by it. I was very warm.