Thursday, September 13, 2012

I remember one time about 25 years ago.....

I remember one time about 25 years ago I was driving down a dirt road and in a clearing about 25 yards away there were two guys crouched down head to head. I was feeling particularly sociable that morning so I pulled off and wandered over to offer them a cup of hot coffee as it had been raining pretty good for a couple days.
When I got over to them, I could see they were trying to build a fire and having damned little success at it. I also noticed they were dressed completely in Royal Robbins clothes and all their gear was North Face and not only that, all that shit was brand fucking new. I mean it was so new you could still smell it. No creases yet in their fancy hiking boots, no scuffs or dirt on their packs, no rumples in their hats and most noticeably, no fucking fire.
My keen senses told me that they were new to this.
They had pieces of rotten wood and wet tinder and had just about run their lighter out of fuel trying to ignite it. They had started to burn shit from their wallets trying to coax that little flame to life.
I offered them a cup of coffee and when they accepted, I went back to the truck for my thermos, a couple of canteen cups and my firemaking equipment.
"Y'all are fucking up." I informed them. "It's cold and wet and nasty and you didn't even bring the stuff to build you a fire. May I show you the proper way?"
They looked at each other, then at me - long hair tied back, bearded, Carhartt coat, Wranglers and well worn lace up ropers on my feet, not only that but there wasn't a bit of color to me. No fancy fluorescent clothing, no fancy brand name shit but looking pretty much at home standing under a tree staying dry while they huddled in the clearing getting rained on.
"Um, sure. We're just having a little problem with our fire because it's wet."
"And because you ain't quite got a grip on things yet, Stud. Lookee here, your shit's all wet because you don't know where to look for dry wood. And even if you did find dry wood, it's getting wet because you're trying to build a fire in a clearing in a rainstorm. Come back here under this nice tree and start over."
"Oh no, we don't want to start a forest fire" they said.
"You can't even start a campfire and you're worried about burning down the woods? It's been raining hard for 2-3 days now, man. It'll be okay, really it will."
They explained that they wanted to give camping a shot and thought because it was still nice and warm down in LA, they figured it would be nice and cool up here and that they just weren't prepared but because they'd traveled so far they didn't want to waste the trip. Rain never even figured into their plans. They had used all their brought-from-home tinder trying to light wet wood and now they were fucked. They were giving up, fuck it, spend a miserable night in the car and head for home in the morning.
"Ah, the 4P Principle" I said.
"4P Principle?"
"Piss Poor Prior Planning. Come on, let's save this trip." I led them back into the forest a little bit, showed them where to find dry tinder and kindling and headed back to the truck for some 550 cord and a tarp while they gathered fuel for their fire.
When I got back to them I unfolded the tarp and set it up between some trees, then showed them how to prepare a campfire. When I was sure they had it down I asked one of them for a light and he hands me the used up lighter.
Oh well, time for me to show off my woodsman's skills. I pulled my firemaking gear out, popped that road flare and shoved it right in the middle of their nest of tinder and kindling. "Works every time" was all I said.
Fuck, I thought they were going to stroke up right there on the spot - "That's cheating!!!"
"Yeah? It ain't no less warm. It'll be all right once the flare burns out and the smoke goes away."

My lessons in outdoor life must've paid off because when I went back past there the next day, they were there and dry and warm and having a good ol' time doing nothing but drinking bourbon.

The point to this story? There ain't none, I was just doing a little remembering and thought I'd share.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, I for one thought you made a fine series of points, and would like to hear more stories from The Chronicles of Wirecutter.

Tell us another story, Uncle Wirecutter!

H

MissK said...

I agree with AnonH.
And who needs pics with those words.
We can see everything when you tell a story WC :-)

rpm2day said...

Sharing knowledge, the best gift. Good for you.

Walter Zoomie said...

Then you shot 'em, right?

mohave rat said...

next time you tell this story, make it two incredibly hot chicks in short shorts and wet tank tops. Hugging each other to stay warm. Oh, wait I know some lesbian action! yeah, that's the ticket.... Just playing with ya man! good story. the rat

Anonymous said...

Their degree's in douchebaggery weren't saving them ?. No good deed goes unpunished . You can imagine the tale's they told back at the condo, of the uncouth hillbilly strait out of 'Deliverance'.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they knew how to take a good crap in the woods...

Anonymous said...

That shit was funny, I enjoy reading your blog, you freaking rock!!

Toaster 802 said...

Wirecutter, what is best in life?

To crush the coyote population,

See bacon be laid before you,

And to hear the lamentation of the citidiots.

http://youtu.be/6PQ6335puOc

Grog said...

Walter, I could be wrong, but I think Wirecutter would tie the camping nubs to a tree and leave them for the critters, or at least threaten to, if they pissed him off. More amusement that way. ;)

hiswiserangel said...

The Wirecutter Scout Badge for Helping DumbAss Yuppies.

DeNihilist said...

Beautiful Cutter. Great story. Being in the mechanical trades, I usually have my trusty mapp gas and torch close at hand, and some nice cedar kindling and the throwaway 2 x 4's from a jobsite.

as you say cheatin maybe, but at least we stay warm!

Robert Fowler said...

I carry trioxane tablets for that very purpose. They will burn hot in the rain and don't take up much room.

Anonymous said...

Great story and a decent act of kindness to fellow man. Probably a story they will tell to grandkids.Way to go.They had the burbon part right. AE

Brock Townsend said...

The Seven Ps
http://tinyurl.com/94cqdj6
"Proper, Prior, Planning, Prevents Piss, Poor Performance."

Everett said...

What do you use for tinder out there in the SoCal woods? Mesquite standing deadwood or some other? I'm a northwoods guy and we go under a big old Spruce or pine, break off a big handful on dead twigs from the end of the branches, make a little tent out of them, reach in your pocket and get all the lint out of the corners, or scrape the legs of you jeans with your knife till you get a good ball, put under the tent, breakout the flint and steel, one swipe in the right place and Voila! Ze fire!

The Old Man said...

Hopefully they learned either they did NOT belong there - or how to start surviving there...

Skip said...

I always carry a small tupperware jug of diesel.

Blue said...

Fuck! That's good shit! :)