Fire Starting

  Two pitch pines stood alone in a grassy field. To the west, a wetland opened up into a cranberry bog owned by Pine Island Cranberry Company, one of many bogs dotting the landscape in southern New Jersey’s Pine Barrens region. It was late May. Soon wildflowers would sprout, insects fill the air, and northern…

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Historically, the campfire was a necessity for warmth and cooking, while today it’s become culturally synonymous with the outdoor experience. But the proliferation of lightweight and high-quality camp stoves, combined with deeper knowledge about the ecological impacts fires have on natural spaces and the environment, mean that fires are no longer a necessity in most…

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Having the means and ability to make an emergency fire is an essential survival skill. It requires two key items: something that generates a spark or flame, and tinder to catch the spark or flame and start your fire. For the latter, I have long recommended Vaseline-coated cotton balls (though a variety of other pre-made…

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Like paddling a canoe or pedaling a bike, splitting wood is a rhythmic outdoor activity that can feel downright meditative when done correctly.  Swinging an ax, however, is a little more difficult (and dangerous) than biking or boating, so it takes time and practice to become a master of this useful art form. To get…

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No winter trip to AMC’s Maine Wilderness Lodges would be complete without spending an evening huddled around the wood stove, warming chilly toes and sipping hot chocolate. JP Krol, a longtime winter caretaker for both AMC and Randolph Mountain Club, has spent many a night doing just this. “Caretakers wear many hats, but one of…

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With drought conditions contributing to wildfires throughout the eastern United States, officials are wondering whether 2016 marks the beginning of a scary new trend. More than 119,000 acres burned in eight southeastern states last year, and New Hampshire saw its largest wildfire since 1903. The Covered Bridge Fire in Albany, N.H., consumed 329 acres of…

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Regardless of the length of your trip, from a three-hour hike to a three-day or three-week expedition, all hikers should carry the 10 essentials—a list developed by the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, the public agency responsible for the majority of search and rescue operations in New Hampshire. In this outdoor skills video, AMC…

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Invest in waterproof, tear-proof trail maps. Tyvek and plastic are significantly more durable than paper. If you do carry a paper map, fold it to highlight your area and place it inside a waterproof map case or a heavy-duty resealable freezer bag. Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both sunburn-inducing UVA and skin-damaging…

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