The Traditional Ash Pack Basket

Contemporary design inspired by the earlier Northwoods pack baskets from the 19th Century.  This one was made by Bill Mackowski in Milford, Maine.

Taken from Bill’s site:

Nothing speaks of the traditions of the Maine woods or the mountains of the Adirondacks like a hand crafted brown ash (black ash if you’re from away) pack basket.  Imbedded in the very creation of the Native Abenakis (People of the Dawn), brown ash is the most unique and durable of all natural or manmade weaving materials.  Nothing can compare with its texture, workability, and visual beauty.  Even its smell has an unusual and inspiring quality.  Although it has been the preferred material of untold utilitarian and artistic basket creations, to me, it’s true beauty reaches its pinnacle in the lines and character of a hand crafted pack basket.

For hundreds of years, no self respecting guide, trapper, or woodsman ventured into the woods of Northern New England and New York without his pack.  It was as critical as his bed roll or tea bucket.  It was his signature piece of apparel.

Many of these packs were made by the guides themselves, but many more were made by the basket makers that lived and crafted throughout the North East.  To me, every one was a unique and artistic creation.  Each maker having his little variation or particular quirk in the crafting.  Unfortunately, most of these craftsman never marked their work, and their styles have been lost over time.  Those packs that remain and are traceable to any of these old craftsman, are truly a piece of North woods history.”

LL Bean used to market one much closer to those shown below [and may still].

A web clip of what I assume entries at a “common-ground” type craft fair

Traditional Pack Baskets are available from a good number of craftsmen throughout New England and can be ordered online from most.

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Ah…. wow… er… ah…

I came upon this over on one of the blogs I follow on the Tumblr. Bushcrafters gone wild!

It pretty much epitomizes everything I’m not likely to do when I go out camping.

Talk about “Leave No Trace”~~ Two dozen+ live trees cut for unnecessary [and U.G.L.Y., and disfunctional, and inefficient] shelter, and a hacked up stump. I just hope this was their own property. If it was public use land, or a state park, I’d be pretty upset finding this on my trip down the trail. However, from the amount of gear, I’m guessing they didn’t walk in very far.

Playing With Fire- “all natural” Flaming Dragon Turds

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My buddy, Ed, and I have been upptacamp a couple times recently to build a deck.  Part of the process was taking down several large pine trees that were going to be in the way of the deck and the view. We took them down three weeks ago on the first visit. When we were up again last week, I realized that one of them had “sweated” a large amount of sap out of the stump.

Pine sap is one of my favorite tinders/kindlings, and, this being the Northwoods of Maine, there was plenty of loose, dry birchbark to be picked up easily. I scraped a bunch of the still liquid sap off and smeared it across the surface of some of the birchbark. I sprinkled it with some of the course sawdust from the chainsaw work, and pressed the two pieces together between a couple of cinderblocks for a few hours. The photo shows the result. I figure to thumbtack it to the railing outside for a few weeks to let it dry and set up completely, and then I should be able to cut it into pieces and add it in to my tinderboxes.

After I took the first photograph, I snipped off a chunk, and touched it off with a single match.IMG_0999

I got a burn time of about a minute and a half, and it left an “ooze” of unburned sap on the slate that would’ve soaked in if there was other tinder. It also burned so hot that it popped a flake of slate off the underside.

I think I have another keeper.