Sunday, October 24, 2021
40.0°F

One Match

| October 6, 2021 8:40 AM

So a few weeks ago we went back to one of Glacier’s high mountain lakes, which is a long hike, but not a terribly difficult one. There was no one else back there, primarily because the weather stunk.

The first day was smoky to the point where you could taste it. I don’t recall a September day being that dark at 2 p.m., but it was. Then the wind kicked up and we had some on-again-off-again rain, which cleared the smoke but didn’t make it any brighter.

I started a fire out of sheer luck. I carry a lighter, but it was dead and I found a box of matches with exactly one match.

The match lit, I set a small piece of paper on fire, then some birch bark, twigs and had a nice fire going in a few minutes.

I typically have a bar of Trioxane in the pack, which is a military-grade fire starter, but apparently I had used it all.

I also experimented with a mix of pitch, lichen and a flint and steel to see if that would work well as a fire starter. To my surprise, it worked very well, so I made a little batch of it, put it in a baggy and stuck it in my pack, just in case. I rarely start fires, to be honest. Usually I’m too tired or on the move to care.

After the fire was going I read the boy some Dorothy Johnson stories until the rain came down in earnest.

That night it poured and it poured on and off on the way out.

It was a good way to test out rain gear. I bought a pair of Marmot rain pants and a pair of Arcteryx. The Marmots won the day. The Arcteryx had wet patches here and there, which surprised me, considering they fit like a glove and cost $100 more than the Marmots.

The boy wore the Marmots and his pants were dry.

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If you’re wondering where Larry Wilson’s column is, I must report that Larry is under the weather. He is expected to recover, but isn’t able to write a column. We wish him a speedy recovery.